The Los Angeles Dodgers (55-31) made the final stop on a nine-game road trip on Friday night in Milwaukee and took the first game in a three-game series by a margin of 12-8 over the hometown Brewers (44-42).
The showdown between two of the National League’s top teams turned into a well-played back-and-forth battle but the Blue Crew had the last laugh. Casey Blake delivered the big blow when he tripled home Manny Ramirez in the 10th inning to put the Dodgers on top once-and-for-all.
Los Angeles hit a season-high five home runs and once again attacked the opposition early and often. After scoring 11 runs last night, the Dodgers put up six runs in the 10th inning and scored 12 runs on the night.
Andre Ethier started the trend when he launched his 17th home run of the season off Brewers starter Braden Looper (7-4, 4.94 ERA) and gave Dodgers All-Star Chad Billingsley a 1-0 lead before he took the mound.
Billingsley (9-4, 3.38 ERA) hasn’t won a game since Jun. 14 and was trying for the fifth time to win his 10th game of the season. However, things were difficult right from the start.
Chad threw 33 first-inning pitches and gave the one-run lead right back. He worked into a jam by walking two and allowing a single, which loaded the bases for rookie Mat Gamel.
Gamel laced a line drive into center field, but Kemp had no chance at throwing out Craig Counsell tagging from third. Mike Cameron followed that up with an RBI single to right field and Ryan Braun came around to score and make it 2-0 Brewers lead.
Los Angeles brought the game back even at 2-2 in the fourth inning when James Loney hit a two-out solo home run.
It was Loney’s seventh home run of the season and his second on the road trip. It also extended his hitting streak to nine games.
But once again, Billingsley failed to shutdown the Brewers after his offense helped him. With one-out in the bottom of the fourth, J.J. Hardy hit a two-out opposite field home run and put the Brewers back on top, 3-2.
The Dodgers continued to play long ball in the sixth when Manny Ramirez and Russell Martin joined the party.
Amid a swarm of boo’s from the Milwaukee fans, Manny hit a two-run home run to give the Dodgers a 4-3 lead.
It was Manny’s ninth homer of the season and third since returning from suspension last Friday, and it also was the 537th of his career. That brings him into a tie with Mickey Mantle for 15th on the All-Time list.
Two outs later, Martin got a hold of a high fastball from Looper and put it into the bullpen in left-center field. The shot put the Boys in Blue ahead, 5-3.
Then for the third time on the night, Billingsley got himself into trouble after receiving runs from his team in the top half of the inning.
He walked Prince Fielder to leadoff the bottom of the sixth and after a Gamel single, walked Cameron to load the bases. Frank Catalanatto worked a tough at-bat and looped an RBI single into left field to slice the margin to one at 5-4.
Chad was taken out for Guillermo Mota after throwing 110 pitches. It was his shortest outing of the season and the final line for the Dodgers ace was five innings, five runs, five hits, four strikeouts, and four walks.
Mota then caught a little bit too much of the plate with a slider to Hardy and he lifted a fly ball deep enough to bring Gamel in from third and tie the game at 5-5. But Mota quickly buckled down a got an easy 6-4-3 double play ball to end the threat.
The teams exchanged zeros in the seventh and the heart of the Dodgers order was unable to produce in the top of the eighth.
Brent Leach came on in the bottom of the eighth to face the lefty-heavy Brewers order. He retired Fielder on a groundball to first, but then Gamel jumped all over a Leach offering and sent it deep over the right field fence.
Gamel was 2-for-3 on the night with two RBI and the solo home run gave the Brewers a 6-5 lead.
It also cued up “Hells Bells” over the Miller Park speaker system as all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman took the hill.
But Russell Martin got things going quickly in the ninth when he cracked the first pitch from Hoffman into center field. Hudson then bunted Martin to second, which brought Matt Kemp to plate.
Kemp then also bunted and he put down a beauty. The ball came to rest just outside the cut of the infield grass in front of the plate and he legged out a bunt single, also advancing Martin to third with just one out.
Mark Loretta, who entered the game as part of a double-switch for Loney in the eighth, hit an almost identical ball as Martin and drove home the Dodgers catcher to tie the game at 6-6.
Hoffman got out of the jam when he got speedy Rafael Furcal to ground into a double play but in the blink of an eye, Hoffman had blown just his second save of the season and the game was going into extra frames.
In the top of the 10th, the Dodgers sent 10 men to the plate and exploded for six runs to put away the Brewers once and for all.
Manny walked with one-out to bring up Blake who drove a pitch high off the wall in right-center field. The ball bounced far off the fence and rolled back towards the infield, which gave Manny the opportunity to come all the way around from first.
The triple for Blake put the Dodgers on top 7-6. They would add another run on a Martin infield single and a few batters later Kemp dealt the final blow when he hit a grand slam, already his third of the season, high into the left field bleachers making it a 12-6 ball game.
For reasons unbeknownst to me, Joe Torre brought in Jonathan Broxton in a six-run game. Broxton struggled and threw 29 pitches most likely rendering him unavailable for tomorrow’s game.
He allowed two runs on three hits and walked one and it took an incredible catch from Matt Kemp to end the threat.
Kemp made a Willie Mays-esque catch on a long drive over his head by Jason Kendall. If Kemp had not corralled the ball, two runs would have scored and the tying run would have come to the plate.
WP: Troncoso (3-0)
LP: Villanueva (2-6)
Notes from Friday night
That’s Not My Name
At the beginning of the broadcast on the Brewers Fox Sports Network, they showed a graphic that listed “Andrew Ethier” as the Dodgers home run and RBI leader.
Well, “Andrew” must have taken that to heart because he smashed a long home run in his first at bat into the second deck high above the right-center field wall.
He May Not Be an All-Star, But He’s a Damn Good Player
Matt Kemp’s 10th inning grand slam was his third hit of the night and it gave him career-high five straight multi-hit games. Over that span, he is 13-for-21 (.619).
Chad Billingsley gave up five runs on the night and has now given up at least three runs seven consecutive outings. It was also the second time in that stretch he has allowed five runs.
Feelin’ Good at Miller Park
Russell Martin hit his second home run of the season in the sixth inning. In 10 career games at Miller Park he is 14-for-38 with two doubles, two homers, and six RBI.
In 19 career games against the Brewers, Martin is 24-for-66 with five home runs and 16 RBI.
Hogging All the Runs
Entering the game, Milwaukee had given starter Braden Looper 7.5 runs/outing of support (most in Brewers franchise history) and has scored 10 or more runs three times with Looper on the mound this season.
Looper left the game after six innings trailing 5-3, but the Brewers scored two in the bottom frame to take him off the hook for a loss.
PJ Ross is a Featured Columnist for the Los Angeles Dodgers.