LOS ANGELES – The Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers not only played a baseball game on Friday night. Instead, they engaged in an early and energetic Home Run Derby competition.
The Dodgers won the long ball battle, three to two, but the Brewers prevailed in the game, 8-5, to break a three-game losing streak, all in the first stop of this trip against the Angels in Anaheim.
"The offense did a good job to keep coming back," manager Craig Counsell said. "And the bullpen did a great job, I thought that tonight I had the chance to be a low scoring game, to be honest with you, but both offenses did a good job against the young starters, we just beat them."
It was the fifth straight loss for Los Angeles, which came from a four-game sweep in St. Louis. The last two outs were secured by Alex Wilson after the Dodgers fought for 1 1/3 innings against Josh Hader, with a total of 38 pitches.
"They did a great job, they did (Hader) work," Counsell said. "Give them credit for making him work, he had to go to his arsenal and use everything he had, he put zeros, that's the important thing."
The three home runs of the Dodgers came from Brewers starter Corbin Burnes, continuing a disturbing trend. In his three starts, Burnes (10.05 ERA) has allowed three homers, an alarming frequency, small sample size or not. The nine home runs have come in only 14 1/3 innings, a rate of 5.65 for every nine innings.
The Dodgers' three homers came with fastballs, making eight home runs in that shootout against Burnes.
"We have to keep working on that and find some solutions for that," Counsell said. "We have to find a way to keep the ball in the park because it's a difficult way to pitch.
"I'm not worried about him recovering, I'm not worried about that at all, at this level, the errors on the fastball are hurting him, he's paying the price, that's what we have to evaluate and make sure that he's doing a good enough job with
"He's going to get there, there are too many things there, he will get there."
POINT OF SCORE: Brewers 8, Dodgers 5
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The Brewers jumped to a 2-0 lead against left-hander Julio Urias in the first inning, with former Dodgers wide receiver Yasmani Grandal delivering the big hit. With the runners in the corners and two down, Grandal hit a goalkeeper who left Urias to the right shallow for a touchdown.
When Mike Moustakas followed with a single in the middle, the Brewers put a second race on the board.
Los Angeles eliminated a career that took advantage of a home run by Corey Seager, an opposing field homer, and Burnes was lucky to limit the damage to a run. There was a delay at the beginning when Joc Pederson kicked a shot from the mask of the home plate referee, Brian Knight, who was so affected that he had to leave the game.
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It was the second time on this trip that the home plate had to go after a lack of shot of the mask. It happened to Tom Hallion on Tuesday in the second game of the series against the Angels in Anaheim. This time, the ump of second baseman Pat Hoberg took over behind the plate and the game continued with only three referees.
Then, the teams started swapping home runs. Cody Bellinger threw a two-run shot at Burnes with one down in the third, jumping on a fast first pitch ball. The second baseman of the Brewers, Hernán Pérez, responded that one with a shot of two runs of Urias with one down in the fourth.
And the two-run home runs kept coming. Joc Pederson threw one with two down in the fourth, putting the Dodgers back on top, 5-4. Grandal responded with a two-run shot with two outs in the fifth, hitting with his right hand against Urias, and the Brewers again had the advantage, 6-5.
It was a successful homecoming for Grandal, the former Dodgers wide receiver who received a long and noisy ovation from Los Angeles fans before his first at-bat, then came out and picked up three hits with three RBI.
"That was great, I really did not expect it," Grandal said of the ovation. "I've seen countless guys play here for a long time and they come back and do not get that reception, that was probably one of the best moments of my career."
"For me, it was surprising and emotional at the same time, I had to breathe a little and get out of the batter's box, it's something I'll remember for a long time."
With one down at the bottom of the entrance, A.J. Pollock drew a walk and Alex Verdugo gave a single to the third, and that was all for Burnes. Matt Albers took charge and did not allow the tie race to score, appearing to Kiké Hernández and striking out Austin Barnes.
The Brewers increased their lead to 7-5 in the seventh inning of reliever Joe Kelly when Christian Yelich started with a single and scored in a double out by Jesus Aguilar, his first extra-base hit of the season.
"It was a good time for that, I needed it," Counsell said of Aguilar's great success. "I just needed a hit, I needed to square a ball and make it fall, it happened with a runner at the base, and that's the best time for that."
The Brewers extended the lead to 8-5 in the ninth with one of the weirdest oddities: a race against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. It was the first time he allowed Milwaukee a run after 23 2/3 scoreless innings in 22 games, including the postseason.
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SHAW AVAILABLE TO HIT: Third baseman Travis Shaw, who received a right hand punch on Wednesday in Anaheim and had to leave the game against the Angels, took a couple of batting practice rounds before the game and said he was good to play. "He's still sore but I can catch the bat well," Shaw said. Counsell did not have Shaw in the lineup against lefty Urias, but he said, "He's doing fine, there's a little swelling, he can still be available today."
TWO RISKS COME TO A FINAL: Two long offensive droughts came to an end for the Brewers. In the first inning, Ryan Braun made his first walk of the season after 45 plate appearances without one. The double producer of Aguilar was his first extrabase hit after 56 appearances on the plate. Oddly enough, Lorenzo Cain and Yelich also scored their 500 races.
JEFFRESS TO ENJOY THE TEAM THE NEXT WEEK: Counsell confirmed that the plan with reliever Jeremy Jeffress is for him to make one more appearance with the AAA San Antonio Clbad on Saturday, and then rejoin the Brewers next week. Jeffress has been in the minor league rehab badignment while recovering from shoulder weakness. "I'm confident he will be active at the home stand," Counsell said, without specifying the day.
DODGERS DID NOT APPOINT SATURDAY PITCHER: With three starting pitchers currently on the disabled list – Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Clayton Kershaw – the Dodgers had not yet named their starting pitcher for the second game of the series on Saturday. They named right-hander Ross Stripling as their starter for the final on Sunday.
IT SEEMS VERY FAMILIAR: With two series of the second half against the Dodgers last season, then the NLCS of seven games, and now seven more games in a span of 10 days, the Brewers have certainly become familiar with seeing Los Angeles. "He feels like a division opponent at this point," Counsell said. "That's 21 games in three months of baseball, so he feels like a common enemy, almost a division enemy."
This year: 9-5
Last year: 7-7
Saturday: Brewers in Dodgers, 8:10 p.m. Milwaukee RHP Zach Davies (1-0, 1.69) vs. TBA TV: FS Wisconsin. Radio: AM-620.