Reporting from Milwaukee —
Questions about his upcoming divorce trial, the future of Dodgers ownership and the team's willingness to spend for new players remained off-limits.
But Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, in town Tuesday to help celebrate the unveiling of a statue of Commissioner Bud Selig at Miller Park, agreed to take one question from a reporter concerning the team's performance.
"It's been a frustrating season, there's no question about it," McCourt said. "But the guys are fighting. I'm proud of them for that reason."
And that includes McCourt's newest player, veteran catcher Rod Barajas, a Southern Californian and .225 hitter who, in his first game as a Dodger, looked like the second coming of Mike Piazza.
Barajas slammed a three-run home run and two doubles to lead the Dodgers past the Milwaukee Brewers, 5-3, and help starting pitcher Ted Lilly extend his record to 5-0 since he joined the Dodgers.
"I was nervous coming in here, I honestly was, meeting new guys and performing with all my family and friends watching," said Barajas, now batting .233. "I was afraid if I didn't do well there would be some bad text messages."
But after he doubled in his first at-bat as a Dodger, that "got the nerves out of the way and from there on it was just regular baseball," he said.
That meant also helping Lilly. The left-hander wasn't as sharp as in some previous outings, allowing three runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings — including two doubles and a triple by Casey McGehee.
But Lilly (8-8) was good enough to keep the Dodgers in the game until Barajas hit his two-out home run in the sixth inning off Brewers starter Dave Bush, after Ronnie Belliard and Jamey Carroll had singled, to give the Dodgers the 5-3 lead.
"I got away with quite a few pitches, and [Barajas] was good because he stayed on me," Lilly said. "I was getting frustrated not being able to get my fastball in. He worked well with me."
The Dodgers staked Lilly to a 2-0 lead in the second inning when James Loney singled and Matt Kemp hit his team-leading 22nd home run, a towering shot estimated at 447 feet far over the center-field wall.
Milwaukee came back that inning when Prince Fielder singled and McGehee hit a deep fly to the spot in left-center field where the wall angles outward toward dead center. That caused the ball to ricochet past a chasing Kemp, giving McGehee a triple and scoring Fielder.
And in the fifth inning, after Rickie Weeks hit his 24th home run with two out, Alcides Escobar singled and came home on Ryan Braun's double, giving the Brewers a 3-2 lead.
Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo got the save but it didn't come easily and required 22 pitches. With one out, the Brewers' Carlos Gomez got a bunt single, and Jonathan Lucroy hit a comebacker to Kuo, who tried to start a double play but threw the ball over Jamey Carroll's head at second base, leaving both runners safe.
But Kuo got pinch-hitter Corey Hart to pop out and struck out Weeks.
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