MILWAUKEE -- In the moment, Hernan Perez said it's fun to be a position player climbing the pitcher's mound. Then he glances back at the scoreboard and is reminded of the sobering situation.Perez was the home team's best pitcher on Sunday and catcher Erik Kratz wasn't far behind, which was
MILWAUKEE -- In the moment, Hernan Perez said it's fun to be a position player climbing the pitcher's mound. Then he glances back at the scoreboard and is reminded of the sobering situation.
Perez was the home team's best pitcher on Sunday and catcher Erik Kratz wasn't far behind, which was good for entertainment value but bad for the Brewers in an 11-2 loss to the Dodgers at Miller Park.
Matt Kemp homered twice for Los Angeles, which rode a pair of five-run innings to a series-clinching victory to begin the second half. Perez (two innings) and Kratz combined for three scoreless innings for the Brewers, who faced a nine-run deficit after the fifth and were short of arms after losing starter Brent Suter to a forearm injury.
"It's fun for a little bit," Perez said, "but when you know we're losing by a lot, that's tough. I don't like to pitch because when I'm pitching, we're losing. And I don't like to lose."
Milwaukee has been losing a lot lately. After dropping two of three to the Dodgers, the Brewers have lost eight of their last nine games and nine of their last 11 to fall 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Cubs in the National League Central.
That matches Milwaukee's biggest division deficit at the end of a day since the team was 3 1/2 out on April 16.
"If you go back, besides today's game, our pitching staff has kept us in every game, and our hitters have been in a situation in every single game that we've come up with the game-winning run at the plate," Kratz said. "So while we haven't been winning, we're a lot closer than [eight] out of nine that we've lost.
"We have to turn it around. That's what good teams do. But we're not that far away."
When a team is in a funk, Perez said, "It feels like you're losing 20 games in a row. We lost just one game today; we won yesterday. But I think we need to step up and play better."
The Brewers were hoping to parlay a win over Clayton Kershaw on Saturday night into a winning streak, and things looked good as five of their first six batters reached safely Sunday against Dodgers left-hander Alex Wood. Travis Shaw's two-run single made it 2-0, and when Tyler Saladino followed with a walk, Milwaukee had the bases loaded with one out.
But Perez chased a curveball below the strike zone and bounced into a 1-2-3 double play to end that threat, and the Dodgers took over from there. Los Angeles took the lead with a five-run second inning against Suter, which included a costly misplay by first baseman Ryan Braun, and padded it with five more runs in the fifth inning against rookie reliever Taylor Williams.
"I can't imagine a much deeper lineup," said Wood of the Dodgers, after he limited the Brewers to two runs on five hits in six innings. "It's the deepest one I've ever played with, and I've played with some pretty good lineups. Adding [Machado] to the mix is a whole other dynamic."
With no off-days on Milwaukee's schedule until Aug. 6, Counsell employed help from his bench to close out the game. Excluding Brooks Kieschnick, who was primarily a pitcher during his tenure with the Brewers, it marked the second time in franchise history that multiple position players pitched in the same game. The other occurrence was in August 1979 against the Royals, when Buck Martinez, Jim Gantner and Sal Bando combined to pitch five innings.
"You don't want to be out there, but there is a benefit to it later down the road," Kratz said. "So you've got to go out and do it and enjoy the moment. [Perez] did a really good job of enjoying the moment. It's a necessity on days like this."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Braun had a tough day at the plate, hitting into a pair of hard outs in run-scoring situations in each of the first two innings. He also had a tough day at first base, including a costly misplay amid the Dodgers' go-ahead rally in the second.
Kemp had just homered to cut the Brewers' lead to 2-1 when Braun drifted into shallow right field for Enrique Hernandez's pop-up. Braun missed the baseball, with right fielder Keon Broxton charging in. It was ruled a base hit.
The Dodgers turned it into a big inning with run-scoring hits by Chris Taylor, Manny Machado and Justin Turner. Had Braun's miss been ruled an error, the final four runs of the inning would have been unearned.
"He hasn't been over there. Especially lately, he hasn't been over there very much," Counsell said. "It's out of need, for sure. With [Jesus] Aguilar kind of taking over first base and Eric [Thames] around, it's been on the back burner for Ryan. Plus, he's been injured, as well, so he hasn't been over there much. It caught up with us today a little bit."
Asked whether Broxton should have called Braun off on the play, Counsell said, "I don't think Keon could get there. That was my read on it."
Suter grimaced after throwing to first base for the final out of the third inning and went straight into the clubhouse with a member of Milwaukee's athletic training staff, the latest injury issue for a team beset by them of late. It was a recurrence of the left forearm strain that landed Suter on the 10-day disabled list just before the All-Star break.
• Suter exits with forearm tightness
He will undergo an MRI scan to determine the severity of the injury.
"I personally feel horrible right now for letting the team down by pitching badly and getting hurt again," Suter said. "In the clubhouse, we realize it's a long season. There's going to be ups and downs, and this is definitely a valley right now."
For a few innings Sunday, it looked like the Brewers might use Jhoulys Chacin to cover some innings against the Dodgers. But after Los Angeles pulled away, Chacin was called back from the bullpen and will start as scheduled when the Nationals come to town Monday for the start of a three-game series. Giovany Gonzalez will be the fourth straight left-hander to pitch opposite Milwaukee in the 7:10 p.m. CT game.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.