LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Dodgers were trying to avoid getting swept in a three-game series for the first time this season. Dan Haren was attempting to win three consecutive starts for the first time in over a year.
The Milwaukee Brewers had other ideas.
Jonathan Lucroy tied a season high with five RBIs, including his first home run in more than three weeks, and the NL Central leaders beat the West-leading Dodgers 7-2 on Sunday in the final scheduled meeting between the clubs.
“We played a really good team and they showed why. They have a very deep lineup and good pitching,” Haren said. “I mean, they’re in first place, so it’s not like we got swept by some last-place team.”
The Brewers took five of six from the Dodgers, including two games that Zack Greinke started, and one against Clayton Kershaw. The two-time Cy Young Award winner gave up two homers Saturday night in a 3-2 loss to Yovani Gallardo – the first complete-game loss of Kershaw’s seven-year career.
“They came in here and got us good again,” manager Don Mattingly said. “In a sense, they came in here and said: `We think we’re better than you.’ And for these three games, they were. We didn’t do much with them offensively.”
“This series this year reminds me of the Atlanta series last year,” Mattingly added. “All year long, it seemed like whatever we did, nothing worked against Atlanta during the regular season. We had trouble with them all year. Then we were able to get them in the postseason. Hopefully we get an opportunity like that again.”
The Dodgers’ fourth loss in five games, coupled with San Francisco’s 5-2 win over Philadelphia, reduced their division lead over the Giants to 3 1/2 games.
Haren (10-10) gave up six runs and five hits over three innings in his shortest outing of the season, following consecutive victories against the Angels and Braves.
Two of the runs on the right-hander’s line were unearned, the result of an error by three-time Gold Glove first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who dropped a short throw from second baseman Dee Gordon on a grounder by Jean Segura in the second.
“Dan very easily could’ve been out of that. It should have been a 1-2-3 inning, but it ended up being a bad inning,” Mattingly said. “And by the time he gives up another one the next inning, he’s pretty much out of gas and out of pitches.”
Haren, who came in averaging 1.86 walks per nine innings, opened the game by walking Carlos Gomez and giving up Lucroy’s 13th homer. He walked Gomez again with two out in the second, and Lucroy cleared the bases with his NL-leading 40th double to give the Brewers a 5-0 lead.
“I definitely was trying to pitch Gomez carefully, and he didn’t swing at anything out of the zone,” Haren said. “With a guy with the amount of power he has, you’ve got to be a little careful. And when he gets on first base, he’s a threat to run. So you’ve always got to be conscious of that and be a little quicker to the plate to the next guy.”
Wily Peralta (15-7) tied Johnny Cueto and Adam Wainwright for the major league lead in victories, allowing five hits in six scoreless innings.
Brewers: 2B Scooter Gennett’s troublesome right quad has curtailed his ability to run the bases at maximum efficiency – as was the case in the third, when he was held at third on a double to right-center by Khris Davis for the second time in the series.
Dodgers: At this point, only hip surgery will end RHP Josh Beckett’s season prematurely. “I have not heard anything about him getting shut down for the whole year,” Mattingly said. “We’re going to do everything to have him have the opportunity to pitch again this year. But I don’t think we look at Josh as somebody who would come out of the bullpen for us.”
Brewers: Mike Fiers (2-1, 1.29 ERA) pitches Tuesday night’s series opener against Toronto. Last Tuesday, he struck out 14 in a 6-2 win over the Cubs, ending a Brewers streak of 286 consecutive games without a double-digit strikeout performance.
Dodgers: Kevin Correia opens the three-game series against San Diego, his second start since he was acquired Aug. 9 from Minnesota and replaced Beckett in the rotation.