LOS ANGELES – The San Francisco Giants had champagne on the ice in Northern California, but the Los Angeles Dodgers weren’t ready to turn around in the NL West race despite falling four runs behind the Milwaukee Brewers.
Los Angeles racked up seven unanswered runs and held an 8-6 win at Dodger Stadium on Friday night that kept the Giants’ magic number at one for victory in the division. To forge a tie with San Francisco and force Game # 163, the Dodgers would have to sweep the Brewers and the Giants lose their last two games against the stunning San Diego Padres.
The Giants and Padres are playing at 1:05 p.m. PDT on Saturday, so the Dodgers should know where they stand before their 6:10 p.m. PDT game against the Brewers.
It was another day for the Brewers before their National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves. And another day of losing like they have done three times in four games on this end-of-season trip and ten times in 16 games since a three-game sweep in Cleveland September 10-12.
Box Score: Dodgers 8, Brewers 6
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When Brewers manager Craig Counsell realized the Dodgers still had something to play, he left his “A” line-up after having had to rest for the past few days. But starter Eric Lauer could not hold a 5-1 lead and Jandel Gustave, usually a mop-up relief, was allowed to turn a draw in the seventh game into a deficit of three runs.
The Dodgers struck first in a two-out home run by Trea Turner in the lower area of the first, which left Lauer shaking his head. He put a 0-2 fastball up and out of the striking zone into the outer half, but Turner managed to drive it over the right field line and into the short porch inside the foul pole for a 1-0 lead.
The second inning would get Los Angeles into trouble in many ways, with starter Clayton Kershaw getting out early. Eduardo Escobar and Luis Urías’ singles got things going and prepared Lorenzo Cain for a double in left field.
A short groundout by Omar Narváez gave the Brewers a 2-1 lead and Kershaw gave himself a chance to stop it there by beating Lauer. But Kolten Wong tied a run-on double in the right corner, and that would be all for Kershaw, who was leaving with manager Dave Roberts and an athletic coach.
Brusdar Graterol took over for Kershaw and he didn’t last long, being picked up after giving up two runs in the third when the Brewers increased their lead to 4-1. Christian Yelich scored an infield hit with a down and raced around to score when Escobar hemmed a double into the right corner of the field.
When Urías defended a single in the middle to send Escobar home to a 5-1 lead, Graterol was replaced by left-hander Alex Vesia.
Seemed to be louder on a cruise when everything unraveled for him in the fifth inning. Austin Barnes went down just over Wong at second base and pinch-hitter Albert Pujols hit a grounder briefly in the hole for another hit. Mookie Betts then sharply centered to load the bases.
Lauer gave himself a chance to escape by showing up Corey Seager, but Turner jumped on a first pitch change in the top left of the zone and put him in the center left for a grand slam that leveled the game.
That ended two trends for Lauer, who got out at the end of the inning. He had put together an ERA of 1.78 in his previous 14 games (13 starts), which limited opponents to an average of 0.179. Lauer was also a noted Dodgers killer, dating back to his days at San Diego, setting a 6-0 record and 1.89 ERA in eight starts.
“Trea caught me a bit today,” said Lauer. “The first one was exactly where I wanted to throw it. He just did it and the move was obviously the worst throw I have thrown today.
“I’m happy with the way I threw the ball other than that one throw. They had a lot going for them. There were a couple of ways that, if we got a better rebound than we did, we could get out of that gravel. Free. They had some luck and they got some good hits. I’m happy with the way I threw the ball, every other throw besides this one. “
When asked if losing games that would otherwise be meaningless might get the Brewers a little frumpy, Lauer said, “You feel a little different because you know you’re already in and everything. I mean, everyone wants to go out there and end the season strong, keep their numbers where they are. We’re out there to compete and play because we love to. Knowing we’re already at it doesn’t change the fact that we want to win every game we can.
“I think we see these games as warm-up games for the playoffs because we are playing against playoff teams. It’s a good opportunity to really test ourselves and get the ball rolling to kick off this postseason. We’re playing against a good team with a good line-up, so it’s a good test of what (the playoffs) will be like. “
The Dodgers jumped 8-5 with three runs in the seventh against Gustave, who was everywhere with his pitches. Pinch hitter Matt Beaty put his team in the lead to stay in the center right with a one-out home run and it only got uglier for Gustave.
After Betts was hit by a pitch, Seager isolated to the middle. When both runners were moving up on a wild pitch, the Brewers decided to purposely go to Turner to load the bases. Another wild pitch from Gustave sent a run home and he got off after Justin Turner popped out.
Lefty Brent Suter took over and the Dodgers increased their lead to three runs on an infield hit from Max Muncy – a keen grounder who Wong choked but couldn’t continue.
“The way we designed it, I was open to going to Brent for Seager,” Counsell said when asked why he stayed with Gustave for so long. “But when Beaty hit the homer I tried to let Gustave through the inning. When we were down I wanted Gustave through the inning.”
After Kershaw’s early departure, Roberts went deep into his bullpen and summoned seven helpers. The Brewers had only one win against veteran Righty Joe Kelly, who cut the Dodgers’ lead to 8-6 on an RBI single in the eighth with pinch hitter Daniel Vogelbach.
Closer Kenley Jansen was called in to record the last four outs for the Dodgers.
Counsell said the game turned into a bullpen game for the Dodgers: “It’s a bit different. I think that’s the advantage that Relievers have is that they only have to see a hitter once on a good night, though Its hard.
“Bullpen games are tough when you only see one pitcher. In general you can’t keep it up as employees, but obviously we’re at the end here, so you should be able to survive. We did a good job against Graterol, but that was the only courage we had a good rally against. “
One way: 50-29
Saturday: Brewers at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m. Milwaukee RHP Corbin Burnes (11-4, 2.29) vs. Los Angeles LHP Julio Urias (19-3, 3.01). TV: Bally Sports Wisconsin. Radio: AM-620.