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Dodgers run out of magic in ninth, lose to Milwaukee, 5-4

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Andre Ethier's two-run homer puts Dodgers ahead 4-3 in eighth inning, but closer Javy Guerra gives up George Kottaras' game-winning two-run double in the ninth, ending L.A.'s six-game win streak.

April 17, 2012|By Jim Peltz

MILWAUKEE — The game was shaping up to fit nicely into the Dodgers' dazzling start this season.

Andre Ethier slugged a two-run home run to give the Dodgers a 4-3 lead over Milwaukee in the eighth inning, and closer Javy Guerra — five for five in saves before Tuesday night — took over in the ninth.

But Guerra blew this save by giving up a two-run walk-off double to pinch-hitter George Kottaras that gave the Brewers a 5-4 win and handed the Dodgers only their second loss in 11 games.

"It's a tough one to lose," Manager Don Mattingly said of the taut, back-and-forth game. "We kept coming all day."

Guerra, in his second major league season, gave up a single to Corey Hart to open the ninth inning and, after pinch-runner Carlos Gomez stole second base, Guerra walked Mat Gamel.

Guerra did strike out Jonathan Lucroy, but then Kottaras sent the crowd of 27,159 to the exits as the Dodgers' six-game winning streak was snapped.

The pitch to Kottaras "caught too much plate," said Guerra (1-1), who took the loss. "Give him credit, he did a pretty good job swinging up there. That's his job. I've got to execute better on that one."

On a night when the roof at Miller Park was closed because outside temperatures dropped into the 30s, Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley struggled at times early but then settled down as dueled the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo.

Billingsley gave up two runs and five hits in six innings, including a solo home run by Gamel.

The Dodgers were expected to face stiffer opposition against the defending NL Central champion Brewers than they had in the first 10 games, which included seven against the lowly San Diego Padres and three against the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates.

Milwaukee went ahead, 3-2, in the seventh inning when pinch-hitter Norichika Aoki laid down a suicide squeeze against reliever Matt Guerrier that scored Gamel.

But the Dodgers — whose 9-1 start was their best start in 31 years — appeared poised to extend their winning streak to seven games when they took the lead back in the eighth inning.

Mark Ellis singled off reliever Francisco Rodriguez and, after Matt Kemp struck out, the left-handed Ethier slugged his home run the opposite way, over the wall in left-center field, on a 1-1 pitch.

"We were down 2-0, we battled our way back and took the lead and we just fell a little short," Billingsley said. "That's the thing about this team, we'll battle you right to the end."

Ethier's home run was his fourth of the year and gave him a big league-best 17 runs batted in. The right fielder has driven in at least one run in nine of his last 10 games.

james.peltz@latimes.com

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