LOS ANGELES -- The Brewers played some of their best baseball of the season in taking a series from the juggernaut Dodgers to wrap up a successful road trip on Sunday afternoon.
Behind a solid start from Jimmy Nelson, another gutsy performance from the bullpen and RBIs from Hernan Perez, Travis Shaw and Domingo Santana, the Brewers held on to beat the Dodgers, 3-2, and become the first team to win a series over the Dodgers since the Nationals from June 5-7.
"Beating this team is important and it's meaningful," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
With Sunday's victory, the Brewers moved within two games of the first-place Cubs in the National League Central and remained 3 1/2 behind the Rockies for the second NL Wild Card spot.
Milwaukee went 5-4 on a nine-game trip through Colorado, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Brewers now return home for a six-game homestand against the Cardinals and NL East-leading Nationals.
"We did what we wanted to do, so we're happy and ready to get back home and get it rolling," said Eric Sogard, who contributed to Sunday's win with a run scored and a key defensive play at second base to end a Dodgers rally in the seventh inning.
Could this series win over the Dodgers be the start of the run Counsell has said his club needs to go on in order to reach the postseason?
"Absolutely," Sogard said. "No doubt about it. I think coming out with a win in this series is huge for us. It's a big win. I think we can feed off that, keep it going and have a strong September."
Pitching was key for the Brewers in their three-game set at Dodger Stadium.
Nelson held a potent Dodgers offense without a hit through five innings before finally allowing a pinch-hit single to Chase Utley with one out in the sixth. Wearing the nickname "Big Sweat" on his Players Weekend jersey, Nelson earned his 10th win of the season with 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball.
Nelson's solid start followed up a brilliant performance from Zach Davies in Saturday's 3-0 win. In the only game the Brewers lost at Dodger Stadium, Chase Anderson gave up two runs over five innings on Friday.
"Davies yesterday was unbelievable, and Jimmy today, too," said closer Corey Knebel, who shut the door in the ninth inning of both wins. "Our starting pitching this entire series was fantastic."
The bullpen did its job, too, with Anthony Swarzak, Josh Hader and Knebel combining for 4 1/3 shutout innings in the two victories.
"Us as a unit, we know what our job is, and we try to go as deep as we can and the bullpen takes over from there and does a good job, as usual," Nelson said.
Overall, the Brewers' pitching staff held the Dodgers to five runs.
"They kept us in the series, and that's what allowed us to get two wins in the series, for sure," Sogard said. "It was a big series, a huge series for us. We know how hard it is to come in here and get a series win. Huge for the guys, especially going into the off-day [Monday]."
The Brewers also flexed their muscle in the batter's box by homering in all three games. Santana went deep on Friday, Orlando Arcia hit a two-run homer on Saturday and Perez added a solo shot on Sunday.
Now, the next challenge for the Brewers will be to keep the momentum going at Miller Park.
"To get through a tough stretch in the schedule like this and give ourselves a chance here as we move forward is a good thing," Counsell said.