(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
When Matt Kemp went out 2 weeks ago, a scoring demise (along with win-loss record) was foreseen by both pundits and fans alike. Some hoped the team would maintain just a part of their 6 game lead over the Giants, others wondered if the team would have trouble scoring more than one run.
But in what might be a key part of their season, the Dodgers began a stretch of games where they scored runs in bunches, compiling a six game winning streak that had them score 6 or more runs each game. And their lead over the Giants never went down, with Matt Kemp due back on Tuesday, the Dodgers present him with a 6.5 game lead with two more weeks off the schedule.
The Dodgers have not had too many well-pitched games against them at Dodger Stadium but tonight, Shaun Marcum gave up an early run and then shut them down for 6 more innings.
The Dodgers opened the scoring with a two out leg double by Ethier that drove in Tony Gwynn who had earlier singled, stole second and was moved to third base via a sacrificed.
A safe call (that looked like the wrong call on replay) led to a key moment in the game when Aoki scored an unearned run in the 6th on a single by Aramis Ramirez. Harang was taken out after going 5+, he didn't pitch badly but after striking out 4 in the first 3 innings, he didn't get any more strikeouts in the game.
Javy Guerra, who suffered one of his early blown saves in Milwaukee, came into the game to pick up for Harang. He allowed one of the inherited runners to score to make it 3-1. With Ransom striking out, both runs were unearned but that didn't make them any less of a mountain to climb.
Shaun Marcum continued his road pitching effectiveness, entering today he had pitched 5 games on the road and had an ERA over 1.7 runs less than he does at home. He was efficient at keeping the Dodgers at bay tonight pitching 7 strong innings with only 1 run and 6 hits, he struck out 9 and walked only 2.
The Dodger bullpen, while not sharp as a tack, did a good job, Guerra did allow one inherited runner to score but Todd Coffey in a rare somewhat mid-leverage moment held the Brewers down and Belisario worked around the toughest part of the Brewers lineup to keep the Dodgers in the game.
K-Rod, Francisco Rodriguez, came in to pitch the 8th to face Abreu, Ethier and Hairston. Abreu had a great at-bat, fouling off pitch after pitch and then he singled to right. A second later he stole second. But Ethier struck out. Hairston worked the count full, and then he singled in Abreu to make it 3-2. That was Hairston's second hit and third time on base today (8 times in his last 9 plate appearances)
James Loney, who had hit the ball into the outfield twice before walking came up as the go ahead run and then popped up to short. A.J. Ellis represented what seemed to be a last shot (though only in the 8th), he had not had many good swings tonight, an infield single, a ground out and fielder's choice. Ellis, doing what he does, worked the count full, and K-Rod had made a lot of pitches in the inning, on his 28th pitch, he struck out Ellis.
This game had go on so long that Matt Kemp was in the air went it started and he landed just prior to the 9th inning.
Jamey Wright came into the pitch the 9th and retired the side in order. If the Dodgers were to send whatever remained of the $1 hot dog eating crowd, they would have to do it against John Axford who had 7 saves and had not given up a run in 6 consecutive appearances. With Dee Gordon, Ivan DeJesus, Jr. and Tony Gwynn, Jr. due up, that did not seem like a good bet.
Gordon grounded out to shortstop. DeJesus was sent up in a one run game instead of Sands or Van Slyke, he had a nice PA and walked. That brought up the third son of a former big leaguer, Tony Gwynn. Gwynn has been a "clutch" player this year and he too worked the count full. The question was, do the Dodgers run De Jesus here? They didn't and it might have cost them an out and a runner as DeJesus hit a sharp grounder the other way that Milwaukee was able to get a force play on.
Herrera came up with a 9-game hitting streak on the line. Now would Gwynn try to steal here? He didn't have to as a wild pitch moved him into scoring position. So now the Dodgers could tie it with a base hit but on the worst swing in Herrera's MLB career, he struck out and the Dodgers lost 3-2.
Home Runs: Aramis Ramirez (4)
WP - Shaun Marcum 3-3, 7 IP, 1 run, 6 hits, 2 walks and 9 strikeouts
LP - Aaron Harang
Save - John Axford (8)