MILWAUKEE -- Zach Davies pitched into the seventh inning without allowing a run, Eric Thames and Domingo Santana homered and this time the Brewers bullpen held firm, helping avoid a Dodgers sweep with a 3-0 win on Sunday at Miller Park.
Thames' first-inning home run off Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda was his first at home since May 9 against the Red Sox, and when Eric Sogard singled home a run in the second inning, Davies had a 2-0 lead. The right-hander did not allow a hit until Yasmani Grandal's infield single in the fifth, and he did not allow a runner past first base until the seventh.
Davies scattered three hits with one walk in six-plus innings to lower the ERA of Brewers starters in the team's last 10 games to 1.32. Milwaukee's starters surrendered one earned run in 17 innings against the Dodgers.
"They're all in a very good place right now," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "It's a good feeling when we send a guy out there that's on top of his game. I feel these guys are on top of their game and we're getting to see quality outings, for sure."
Maeda needed 92 pitches for four innings and took the loss after allowing two runs on three hits and three walks, while the Dodgers right-hander did strike out seven.
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Brewers closer Corey Knebel, who'd suffered blown saves in each of his two previous appearances at home including Friday's series opener against the Dodgers, navigated the ninth for his fifth save. It sealed the Brewers' second shutout victory this season, and their first at home since a 7-0 win over the Dodgers last June 29.
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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
First threat: The Dodgers' only real threat came in the seventh, when Adrian Gonzalez led off the seventh with a single off Davies and Cody Bellinger beat the Brewers' shift with a bunt hit in a 3-0 count to give the Dodgers their first runner in scoring position of the game. With Davies at 101 pitches, the Brewers holding a 2-0 lead and the dangerous Grandal coming up, Counsell opted to dip into a bullpen which had suffered ninth-inning letdowns in each of the first two games of the series. This time, Milwaukee's relief corps held the lead, starting with Oliver Drake inducing a Grandal double play and Jacob Barnes retiring Dodgers second baseman Austin Barnes (no relation) to end the seventh and preserve Davies' scoreless start.
"I think Davies was good," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "He kept the ball down, kept the ball away, changed speeds, and if you look at our at-bats, we didn't get off many good swings."
Insurance strike: Santana's solo home run in the eighth off Sergio Romo was his second of the series and his fourth in seven games. It continued a surge for the Brewers' right fielder, who is hitting .327 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs in his last 32 games after hitting .169 with two homers and five RBIs in his first 21 games. Romo has allowed five homers in 19 2/3 innings.
"He's taken a step forward this year, there's no question," Counsell said of Santana. "He's really maturing as a hitter, and you see it in his at-bats. Even as the season is going on, he's getting better. He's becoming a real force there and an important player for us. … We've gotten leads, but expanding them is not something we've done frequently. So that run is huge."
"Just keep doing it, don't think too much about it, don't get too angry. Just come back the next day and play. That's the best thing about baseball, every day you're in there playing so it's not like waiting a week to get back out there." -- Thames, on the Brewers rebounding from heartbreaking losses in the first two games of the series
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Santana's homer was almost a two-run shot. The batter before, Travis Shaw, was out on a close play at first base after punching a soft grounder toward Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager. The Brewers challenged, but the call stood. On the next pitch, Santana went deep.
Dodgers: The Dodgers head home for a three-game series with the Nationals at Dodger Stadium, beginning Monday at 7:10 p.m. PDT. Left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (2-5, 3.91 ERA) will take the mound for his ninth start of the season and first career start against the Nationals.
Brewers: The Brewers will continue their seven-game homestand with a four-game series against the Giants, beginning at 6:40 p.m. CT on Monday. Right-hander Junior Guerra (1-0, 1.84 ERA) will hope to build off a win against the Mets on Wednesday, where he earned his first quality start of the season. He'll face the Giants for the first time of his career.
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