Bullpen comes through for Milwaukee Brewers against Los Angeles Dodgers

By Andrew Wagner, The Sports Xchange  |  June 4, 2017 at 7:10 PM
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MILWAUKEE -- The third time was a charm for the Milwaukee Brewers' bullpen.

After blowing late leads in heartbreaking fashion in each of their last two games, Milwaukee's relievers came up big Sunday, putting up three scoreless innings to support Zach Davies' six-inning shutout effort as the Brewers avoided a sweep with a 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Miller Park.

"It was huge for us," said closer Corey Knebel, who allowed the tying home run in the ninth inning Friday night but struck out three in the ninth in the series finale for his fifth save of the season. "The past two games have been pretty tough, so to get that win today, especially a shutout, was very important for us."

Davies got things started and was in the zone early. He didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning, when Yasmani Grandal reached on a single up the middle. Davies walked just one batter all day but gave way to the bullpen after the Dodgers opened the seventh with back-to-back singles by Adrian Gonzalez and Cody Bellinger.

"He was outstanding," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "That's three in a row for him where I thought he was really on top of it and pitching well."

Oliver Drake came on in relief of Davies and got two quick outs on a Grandal double play. Counsell went to his bullpen again, this time summoning Jacob Barnes, who retired Austin Barnes to end the inning and then struck out two in the eighth to bridge the gap to Knebel.

"Those guys want to get the job done certainly and you know, they did an outstanding job," Counsell said.

Milwaukee added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning on Domingo Santana's solo home run -- his 10th of the season and one of two hit Sunday by Milwaukee, which began the day fourth in the National League with 78 home runs this season.

Eric Thames put the Brewers on the board with a solo shot in the first inning against Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda.

"We've had bad luck the last few games, but I feel like as a whole, our team's hitting, our offense is producing and our pitching has been doing a great job," Thames said. "We just have to keep up what we're doing man, just kind of ignore the bad luck."

Making his third start since returning from the disabled list, Maeda was effective -- limiting Milwaukee to two runs, two hits and three walks while striking out seven -- but inefficient with his pitches and gave way after four innings having thrown 92 pitches.

He has yet to work past the fifth since coming back from the DL on May 25.

"We're trying to put our finger on it," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts says. "It obviously taxes the pen. I know the will and the preparation is all there. He gets ahead of hitters but to end the at-bat and put them away has escaped him. With that, he finds himself running high pitch counts not too deep into games.

"I know that he finds a way to settle in, but it's still laboring to get through each inning. I know he's trying to figure it out."

Roberts' bullpen, which also coughed up a lead a night earlier, kept things close by holding Milwaukee to a run and two hits and two walks in five innings, but Davies and the Brewers' relievers kept the Dodgers' batters at bay, holding them to a season-low three hits.

"I thought we played good baseball," Roberts said. "We ran into some good pitching. We some games late. I thought it was a good trip. To go on the road and go 4-3, I thought it was positive."

NOTES: In the last 10 games, Brewers starters have posted a 1.32 ERA while striking out 61 batters. ... Los Angeles leads the National League with a plus-84 run differential. ... The Dodgers are 13-6 against NL Central teams this season. ... RHP Brandon McCarthy reported no issues with a finger blister after throwing a bullpen session and said he expects to take the ball Tuesday when the Dodgers face the Nationals. "We're encouraged," Roberts said. "We expect him to make his start (on Tuesday)." ... Brewers RHP Matt Garza was still feeling sore a day after suffered a chest contusion when he collided with 1B Jesus Aguilar. Manager Craig Counsell said Garza will be examined over the next few days but wasn't sure if his next start is in jeopardy. "He's sore," Counsell said. "He said he felt like he was in a car crash. We'll just have to wait and see how he reacts the next couple of days."

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