Dodgers topped in series finale to drop third straight
Haren turns in rocky outing as division lead shrinks to 3 1/2 games
LOS ANGELES -- Zack Greinke, outlasted. Clayton Kershaw, outdueled. Dan Haren, out early. And the Dodgers, outmatched.
It was a series of two National League division leaders, a possible playoff preview, a chance for the Dodgers to redeem themselves after losing two of three in Milwaukee last week.
And it ended, on Sunday, with a Brewers sweep and the Dodgers humbled.
Haren (10-10, 4.59 ERA) lasted just three innings in Sunday's 7-2 loss, allowing six runs (three earned) on five hits and three walks. The loss marked the first time the first-place Dodgers have been swept this season and the fifth time the Dodgers have lost to the Brewers in six games.
"I'm disappointed," manager Don Mattingly said. "I think we come in off the road trip feeling pretty good. The only team that got us on the road was these guys. And they came in here and got us good again.
"In a sense, they kind of just came in here and said, 'We think we're better than you.' And for these three games they were."
On Friday, the Brewers scored five runs in the eighth inning against the Dodger bullpen to come away with a 6-3 win. On Saturday, they homered twice against Kershaw to deal him his first loss in 14 starts. And on Sunday, they struck early and often.
After walking Carlos Gomez on five pitches to start the game, Haren surrendered a two-run home run to catcher Jonathan Lucroy, saddling Los Angeles with a 2-0 deficit just two batters into the contest.
But Lucroy and the Brewers were far from done.
An error by Adrian Gonzalez on a throw from second baseman Dee Gordon extended the second inning, and with two outs, Haren walked Gomez again to load the bases for Lucroy. The Brewers catcher came through again, this time doubling to left to clear the bases and drive in three Milwaukee runs.
Haren called Lucroy an MVP candidate after the game, saying he's a big reason why the Brewers have been successful. With five RBIs on the day, Lucroy's performance certainly loomed large Sunday in the conclusion of a measuring-stick series.
"This could be a potential matchup in the playoffs," Lucroy said. "I mean, I think that with how good that team is and how good our team is, we could end up meeting down the road if things work out like we want it to, hopefully.
"Anytime you can take five of six during the season, if we meet up with them again at the end of the year, it will give us that confidence knowing that we can hang with them."
The Brewers tacked on another run against Haren with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Jean Segura in the third, which was his last inning of work after throwing 74 pitches.
"I was out of gas," Haren said. "I was working hard from the get-go, right out of the gate I was in trouble and never gathered myself."
Meanwhile, little was brewing for the Dodgers on the offensive end. Milwaukee right-hander Wily Peralta held the Dodgers to five hits in six innings of work to earn his 15th win on the season.
Los Angeles finally cracked the run column in the bottom of the eighth against right-hander Marco Estrada. Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke, who both entered the game in the seventh at first and right field, respectively, led off the inning with back-to-back doubles to score the Dodgers' first run. Van Slyke would come around to score a second run on an RBI double by shortstop Darwin Barney -- a fly ball that right fielder Elian Herrera lost in the sun.
In a lopsided loss and a series sweeps, there were a couple of positives Mattingly was able to point to afterward. Rookie right-hander Carlos Frias responded to his manager's challenge of pitching like it was a scoreless game, allowing just a solo home run to Gomez -- the first batter he faced -- in four innings of work. Ethier, Mattingly said, looked good in his first appearance at first base since 2010, where he's practiced before games for the last couple of weeks.
Perhaps the biggest positive? Monday is an off-day.
"Obviously, you lose three straight," Mattingly said. "A day off sounds pretty good."
With a Los Angeles loss and San Francisco's win on Sunday, the Dodgers' lead in the NL West dropped to 3 1/2 games. They've lost four out of their last five games and have dealt with a sudden barrage of injuries, but Mattingly said he isn't concerned. He's seen this before.
"This feels pretty normal for me," Mattingly said. "This club's been a club that we seem to go up and down. When we came out of Milwaukee last time, everybody's like, 'Oh, you guys are this and that.' And then we win three out of four in Atlanta.
"And now it'll be the same thing again here, and we'll see how we respond."