Reporting from Milwaukee — Dodgers starting pitcher Chad Billingsley was back in top form Tuesday night, giving up one run in seven innings against the first-place Milwaukee Brewers.
But Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo was just as sharp against the Dodgers' meager offense, which meant Billingsley only had a tie to show for his effort when he left the mound at Miller Park.
And when the Dodgers' bullpen faltered in the ninth inning, with reliever Mike MacDougal giving up a walk-off single to Milwaukee pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay, the Brewers edged the Dodgers, 2-1, for their 18th win in their last 20 games.
After being shut out the previous night, the Dodgers had the lone run to show for the first two games of the four-game series against the Brewers.
"This is the game we play pretty much every night," Manager Don Mattingly said. "It's been tough for us to push runs across on any kind of a consistent basis."
Billingsley, rebounding from an outing in which he couldn't protect a 6-0 lead against the Philadelphia Phillies, gave up four hits and struck out five.
But Gallardo, who had a 0-3 career record against the Dodgers, did Billingsley one frame better by giving up one run and four hits in eight innings and striking out nine. All of the Dodgers' hits were singles.
It seemed Gallardo was "throwing every pitch for a strike," Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier said. And with Gallardo and Billingsley so effective, the goal was to get to the Brewers' relievers "but we didn't get that opportunity to get to another bullpen guy" in extra innings, Ethier said.
That's because, after former Dodger Takashi Saito (4-1) retired the side in the top of the ninth inning, the Dodgers' bullpen couldn't hold Milwaukee.
Hong-Chih Kuo (0-2) walked Prince Fielder, then was replaced by MacDougal. Casey McGehee singled, MacDougal walked Yuniesky Betancourt to load the bases and Kotsay hit a line-drive single to win it.
Matt Kemp scored for the Dodgers in the second inning after he singled, stole second base — his 32nd steal — and ran home on Aaron Miles' single.
Milwaukee tied the score in their half of the inning when Jerry Hairston Jr. singled and scored on Corey Hart's groundout.
Billingsley was asked whether it was frustrating to pitch well with such little run support.
"I can say for any guy on our pitching staff, we go out there and we try to give the team a chance to win," said. "We only can control what we can control."
Chatting with the boss
Before the game, Mattingly was asked how often he speaks with embattled Dodgers owner Frank McCourt to discuss the team's play.
"Not very often," Mattingly said. "A couple of times this spring and a couple of times during the season this year. He hasn't been around very much."
Does that bother Mattingly?
"No, not from the standpoint of, uh — I know he's got a lot going on," Mattingly said, adding that McCourt communicates with General Manager Ned Colletti.
Mattingly said his last conversation with McCourt was "a month or so ago," and McCourt's "message to me" mainly was "along the lines of … I'm trying to stay out of the way, I don't want to be a distraction."
In turning a triple play and four double plays against the Dodgers in Monday's game, the Brewers were the first team to achieve the feat since the New York Yankees on July 17, 1953, against the St. Louis Browns, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.