The Dodgers were bested by a familiar foe on Friday, with Eric Lauer and friends combining for a 2-1 Brewers win in the first game of a four-game weekend series in Milwaukee.
A ninth-inning rally against Josh Hader — singles by Chris Taylor and Austin Barnes, plus a balk — brought the Dodgers their only run of the night, but the Brewers closer got Mookie Betts to fly out to end the game, sending the Dodgers to their eighth loss in 11 games.
Lauer was his usual brilliant self against the Dodgers, needing 73 pitches to keep them away from home plate. A steady diet of mostly fastballs of varying speeds and changeups had the Dodgers off balance all night, though perhaps the Dodgers can count as a measure of success that Lauer struck out three, the first time he’s fanned fewer than five in a start against Los Angeles.
Despite collecting four singles and two walks against Lauer, they didn’t even get a runner in scoring position against him until two outs in the fifth inning, when the left-hander got Corey Seager to fly out weakly to left to end the threat. That was deemed enough of a threat to get Lauer out of the game — well, that, and the fact that his spot in the batting order led off the bottom of the frame.
With his five innings Thursday, Lauer lowered his career ERA against the Dodgers to 1.89 in eight starts. Lauer has started 49 innings against Los Angeles in his career, and he’s finished 39 of them scoreless.
“He’s got our number, I guess,” manager Dave Roberts said.
As formidable as the Brewers bullpen is, at least they weren’t Lauer. But they were still effective enough to keep the Dodgers off the scoreboard until the ninth. The biggest threat of the first eight innings came against reigning Rookie of the Year Devin Williams, who allowed two hits and a walk in the eighth, an inning that might have provided run(s) for the Dodgers were it not for this spectacular rally-snuffing double play by Luis Urías and Kolten Wong.
#MasSwag@LuisUrias03 | @KoltenWong pic.twitter.com/y7U5JSJMuJ— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) April 30, 2021
Trevor Bauer pitched eight innings, the first Dodgers pitcher to record an out in the eighth inning this season, throwing 113 pitches, also a season high for the team.
Clayton Kershaw was the last Dodgers pitcher to last this long, pitching eight innings against Milwaukee in Game 2 of the 2020 wild card series. The last Dodger to record an out of the eighth inning in a regular season game was Walker Buehler’s on August 3, 2019., which was also the club’s last complete game before Bauer on Thursday.
“Doc [Roberts] did promise me when he took me out of the game after six innings last time he would let me pitch a complete game,” Bauer quipped. “Unfortunately, this was the eight-inning variety, and a loss.”
When asked about this pact, Roberts chuckled. “Promise is a little strong,” he said.
It was the sixth time in six starts Bauer’s lasted at least six innings, though he had a devil of a time in the fourth. After getting the first two outs of the frame, then throwing a first-pitch strike to Avisail Garcia, Bauer threw six straight balls, walking Garcia and falling behind Travis Shaw.
A pair of fastballs for called strikes got Bauer back even with Shaw, but a knuckle curve was hit into the seats down the line in right field for a two-run lead.
“It was probably the wrong pitch,” Bauer said. “I wanted to throw another pitch, but second-guessed myself. That will get you every time.”
At the very least, getting 15 combined innings from Kershaw and Bauer in consecutive days is as good a set up as possible heading into a bullpen day. But for Thursday at least, the Dodgers didn’t get much to show for it.
“We’re at full strength tomorrow, and that’s a credit to Trevor,” Roberts said.
Home run: Travis Shaw (4)
WP — Eric Lauer (1-0): 5 IP, 4 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
LP — Trevor Bauer (3-1): 8 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
Sv — Josh Hader (6): 1 IP, 2 hits, 1 run, 2 strikeouts
Friday is a bullpen game for the Dodgers, with a slightly later start (5:10 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA). Right-hander Freddy Peralta is scheduled to start for the Brewers.