Clayton Kershaw entered Monday night as the hottest pitcher in baseball, but Manny Parra stole his thunder with a dazzling outing against the Majors best team, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Los Angeles mounted a big rally in the ninth but fell just short against all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman
Parra came out for the inning, but allowed the first two runners to reach before giving way to Trevor Hoffman. James Loney then smoked a two-RBI double to right field cutting the Brewers lead to 6-4.
Orlando Hudson followed that up with an RBI single that hopped just under the glove of a diving Prince Fielder down the first base line and slimmed the margin to one at 6-5.
Hudson then advanced to third by way of a bunt and sacrifice fly and with two down Rafael Furcal came to the plate.
Furcal dropped down an excellent bunt that died in the grass between home plate and the mound, allowing him to reach safely at first. The only problem was that Hudson didn’t run from third, and could have possibly scored the tying run on the Furcal bunt, but remained 90 feet away.
Andre Ethier was then hit by pitch and Manny Ramirez came to the plate with the bases full and two outs, but flew out to right field to end the game and the Los Angeles rally.
Manny has now gone 42 at-bats without recording an RBI. The last time he drove in a run was with a pinch-hit grand slam on July 22 against the Cincinnati Reds.
Getting back to Kershaw, who had come into the game with a Major League best 0.76 ERA since June 16, and was 5-0 in that stretch before tonight. The last time he was on the mound he tossed a career high eight scoreless innings against the St. Louis Cardinals, striking out seven and walking only two.
He also tied a career high that night with 112 pitches thrown.
Perhaps the long outing took a toll on the youngster, as the problem looked to be that the he wasn’t striding far enough, which caused him to struggle with finding his release point and resulted in an extremely wild night.
The 21-year old went just four-plus innings, giving up three runs on just four hits and striking out six, but he also issued six walks that doomed him on the night.
Things came unraveled for the Dodgers’ southpaw in the fourth with the team in front 1-0.
Kershaw walked four consecutive hitters, resulting in two runs being forced in by free passes, and the Brewers taking a 2-1 lead. He came back out for the fifth and was hit around for back-to-back-to-back singles to start the inning before giving way to Jeff Weaver.
The third Brewers run came home when Weaver induced a double play ball with the bases loaded, scoring a runner from third and closing the line for Kershaw.
The Dodgers had given Clayton the lead in the third when Brad Ausmus singled to begin the inning. Ausmus, who backs up Russell Martin, has hit safely in 13 of his 17 starts this season and has been an excellent veteran substitution throughout the season.
Kershaw then bounced back to the mound for what appeared to be an easy put-out, but Manny Parra threw the ball high to first base, pulling Prince Fielder off the bag and letting Kershaw reach safely. With runners now at first and second, Rafael Furcal banged an RBI single into left field to put LA on top 1-0.
Before tonight, the Boys in Blue were 48-16 when scoring first.
After the base knock, they still had runners at first and second with no one out and had the middle of the order coming to the plate, but let the opportunity slip away.
Andre Ethier, ahead 2-0 in the count, grounded into a double play, followed by a Manny Ramirez weak roll out to second base to stymie the potential rally.
The Dodgers could have used some more runs out of that situation, because in the top of the sixth Weaver gave up a majestic three-run home run to Ryan Braun that extended the Brewers lead to 6-1.
Braun launched a two-seam fastball that straightened out over the heart of the plate high into the pavilion in left center field and went 4-for-5 on the night.
Los Angeles tried to chip away at the lead by scoring a quick run in the seventh.
Matt Kemp doubled on the first pitch of the inning, and then James Loney moved him to third on the second pitch of his at-bat, followed by Orlando Hudson bouncing an RBI groundout to shortstop on the first pitch he saw.
In just four pitches, the Dodgers had manufactured a run, but the Braun home run loomed large as they still trailed by four runs at 6-2. The three-run homer ended up being the deciding factor when the Dodgers pushed across three runs in the ninth but fell just one run short in the 6-5 loss.
The Dodgers will take the field behind Hiroki Kuroda (3-5, 4.44) tomorrow night. He has faced the Brewers just once in his career, July 12, but came out of the bullpen to do so. He was tagged for three innings in 1.1 IP. Yovani Gallardo (10-7, 3.13) will take the bump for the visitors from Milwaukee.
WP: Parra (6-8)
LP: Kershaw (8-6)
Notes from Monday night
Breaking Old Habits
Entering Monday night, the Dodgers had beaten the Brewers in 19 of the last 25 contests at Dodgers Stadium.
After playing a night game in Atlanta last night, Los Angeles decided to fly home Clayton Kershaw and tomorrow night’s starter Hiroki Kuroda earlier than the rest of the team, who arrived home at four A.M., in order to get them proper rest. Hopefully the rest was a little more beneficial for Kuroda tomorrow night than it was for Clayton in tonight’s opener.
Lots of Hits, Not Lots of Wins
The Dodgers have recorded 10 or more hits in nine of the past 13 games since July 20. The team is hitting .305 (144-for-472) but has posted a record of only 7-6. The club leads the NL in hitting with a .277 average, nine points better than second-place Houston (.268).
PJ Ross is a Featured Columnist for the Los Angeles Dodgers