LOS ANGELES -- Part of the strategy that got the Brewers to the National League Championship Series has been to deny opponents a third look at a pitcher, which is what made Brandon Woodruff's third turn through the Dodgers' lineup in the sixth inning of a tied Game 5 --
LOS ANGELES -- Part of the strategy that got the Brewers to the National League Championship Series has been to deny opponents a third look at a pitcher, which is what made Brandon Woodruff's third turn through the Dodgers' lineup in the sixth inning of a tied Game 5 -- when he wasn't even the starting pitcher -- one of the surprising parts of a surprising day.
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It didn't work. The Dodgers scored twice in the inning against Woodruff and reliever Corbin Burnes en route to handing Milwaukee a 5-2 defeat, which gave Los Angeles a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
"I don't think through the first five innings that you could see anybody throw the ball better," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "It was five innings as good as we've thrown the ball. So I felt good about him going out there."
Woodruff, a right-hander who took over after left-hander Wade Miley faced just one batter in an effort to tilt the matchups in Milwaukee's favor, had allowed three hits and one unearned run through his first five innings before Counsell sent him out for the sixth to face L.A.'s two-hole hitter Justin Turner.
• Miley removed after 1 batter, will start Game 6
To catcher Erik Kratz, it was a no-brainer.
"No doubt," Kratz said. "His stuff showed nothing of any kind of regression. Go back through the hits he gave up."
Kratz did. There was Joc Pederson's broken-bat single over a leaping Hernan Perez in the fourth inning. Chris Taylor's infield hit produced an Orlando Arcia error and set up Austin Barnes' ground-ball RBI single up the middle in the fifth.
That was it. Woodruff had struck out seven in those first five innings.
But the decisive sixth began with a Turner single and got sticky when Woodruff hit Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado had drawn the Brewers' ire on the basepaths in Games 3 and 4, but this errant fastball was obviously unintentional, since it pushed the go-ahead run into scoring position in an 0-1 count with one out and the left-handed-hitting Player Page for Max Muncy up next.
With lefty relief ace Josh Hader likely down for the day after pitching in Games 3 and 4, Woodruff faced Muncy and yielded an opposite-field single that gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. Two batters later, with Burnes on in relief, Yasiel Puig extended the advantage to 3-1 with another single.
"I thought [Woodruff] threw the ball well in the sixth inning," Counsell said. "He gave up one hard-hit ball in facing 23 hitters, I think. I think you'll take that from a guy going through a lineup every single time you go out there."
By getting 5 1/3 innings from Woodruff, a Brewers postseason record for a reliever, Counsell was able to stay away from top relievers Hader, Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress. And he will have a fresh Miley to start Game 6 on Friday at Miller Park.
"We're in a good spot, man." Counsell said. "We're going home. I know you're going to play, 'What if we could have captured another one of these games?' But we're still going home and have a chance with this thing with a bunch of guys in really good shape."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.