MILWAUKEE -- "We got to press stop," manager Craig Counsell said on Friday afternoon, "and now we get to press start again."Unfortunately, that meant the Brewers were stuck in the same part of the plot when they returned from the All-Star break with a 6-4 loss to Manny Machado and
MILWAUKEE -- "We got to press stop," manager Craig Counsell said on Friday afternoon, "and now we get to press start again."
Unfortunately, that meant the Brewers were stuck in the same part of the plot when they returned from the All-Star break with a 6-4 loss to Manny Machado and the Dodgers at Miller Park. The defeat, despite Jesus Aguilar's National League-leading 25th home run and a three-hit, three-RBI night for fellow All-Star Christian Yelich, was Milwaukee's seventh in a row and eighth in nine games to continue a funk that began in Miami and Pittsburgh before the break.
It doesn't get easier. Friday was the Brewers' first of 17 straight games against teams that hit the All-Star break with winning records.
"There's a little sense of urgency, but it's not like we're just flat-out playing bad baseball," Wade Miley said after pitching six innings without an earned run. "This game's hard. We just have to keep grinding away, chipping away, and things will turn around."
Machado tallied two hits and two walks against the team that reportedly finished runner-up in trade talks with the Orioles, including a single in a go-ahead seventh inning against Brewers reliever Taylor Williams. Enrique Hernandez delivered the Dodgers' most important hit of the night in the ninth with a two-out, three-run home run off Brandon Woodruff.
The Brewers' offense came from two of their All-Stars. Aguilar's solo home run in the eighth inning briefly cut the deficit to 3-2, and Yelich led the way with a pair of doubles and his third triple. The triple came with two out in the ninth against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, scoring two runs and bringing Aguilar to the plate representing the potential tying run.
Jansen struck him out with a cutter atop the strike zone.
"I think it's just been a little bit of everything," Yelich said of the Brewers' recent slide. "I think we've scored runs in a loss, we haven't scored runs in a loss, had leads in a loss. It's been tough for us, but you're going to go through these stretches.
"Obviously, we didn't get off to the start we wanted in the second half, but you've just got to keep grinding, keep plugging away."
Including the Dodgers' damage against Williams and Woodruff, Brewers relievers are 0-4 with a 6.06 ERA while the team has lost eight of its last nine games. But the blame falls equally on an offense that has averaged 3.78 runs per game in that stretch.
Having first baseman Eric Thames and outfielder Ryan Braun on the 10-day disabled list hasn't helped, and Braun is due back on Saturday from a rib-cage injury. General manager David Stearns tried to add the best bat available on the trade market, but he was unwilling to part with the club's top pitching prospects, including Corbin Burnes, to complete a deal with the O's.
"I think we're in need of offense," Counsell said. "We're missing some guys, but I also think that can't be the excuse to not score runs. We have to find a way to have good at-bats and to limit our mistakes. When you have a little less margin for error, the mistakes get highlighted a little bit. They did tonight."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Out at second: Two moments in the Brewers' half of the fifth inning turned the game toward the Dodgers. The first was a rare "eight unassisted" in the scorebook, produced when Miley pulled back a bunt attempt and slashed a single up the middle, putting Manny Pina in motion from second base and Keon Broxton from first. Thinking Pina would score on the play, Broxton rounded second and was caught in-between -- a mistake "we can't make," Counsell said. Hernandez ran all the way in from center field and tagged Broxton out. More >
"It was a big play," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "[Hernandez] has really good feel around the diamond, and that play to keep his head up and get the trail runner, that was a big out."
Out at home: It was a big out because of what came next. Hill struck out Lorenzo Cain for the second out of the inning before Yelich lined his second double of the night to the right-center field gap. Pina scored, and with two out, third-base coach Ed Sedar sent the slow-footed Miley, too. He was out in a close play at home, and the teams headed to the sixth inning tied at 2.
"I thought I had it," Miley said. "That was a good relay. It doesn't help that I'm so slow."
With Miley running and Aguilar on deck, was it the right play?
"It doesn't matter who's running. It was a close play that they executed perfectly. It's absolutely the right play with two outs," Counsell said. "They executed a very good play. They were perfect. Jesus is not perfect. That was a good play."
HE SAID IT
"It's obviously a different day, a unique day, but I wouldn't say ''draining.' I think once the game started, everybody got back to just playing baseball and focusing on what we needed to do. I don't think any of the other stuff really had any impact." -- Yelich, asked whether it was a draining day, considering it began with Josh Hader addressing the team about his old tweets unearthed during the All-Star Game
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Brewers briefly delayed the Dodgers' go-ahead rally in the seventh inning thanks to a Broxton-to-Hernan Perez-to-Pina relay on Chase Utley's pinch-hit double to cut down Yasmani Grandal trying to score from first base in a 1-1 game. Roberts requested a pair of reviews -- both of the call itself, and to examine whether Pina violated the blocking rule at home plate. After a brief review, the out call was confirmed.
Chase Anderson, the only right-hander among the six scheduled starters for the Dodgers and Brewers in this series, takes the mound for Milwaukee at 6:10 p.m. CT on Saturday at Miller Park opposite Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw. Anderson has struggled with the long ball this season, but he's also held opponents to a .219 average (82-for-375), good for ninth best in the National League. In 12 starts against Milwaukee, Kershaw has a 2.95 ERA and 88 strikeouts versus 22 walks.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.