MILWAUKEE — The game seemed ready to unravel for Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley.
After spotting the Milwaukee Brewers a 2-0 lead in the second inning Tuesday night, including a solo home run by Mat Gamel, Billingsley hit Milwaukee slugger Ryan Braun in the left arm with a pitch in the third inning.
But then Braun was thrown out trying to steal second base and Billingsley retired the next 11 Brewers, keeping the Dodgers in the game. Milwaukee ultimately won, 5-4, in the ninth inning.
"After the second inning, a couple of hits found the holes and you can't do anything about it," said Billingsley (2-0), who did not factor in the decision, along with starter Milwaukee starter Yovani Gallardo (1-1).
"Yovani, he was throwing well too, so I knew I had to match him with zeros," said Billingsley, who also struck out two batters and did not issue a walk Tuesday.
Manager Don Mattingly said, "The ball was coming out [of Billingsley's hand] pretty good all day."
"He did what we ask guys to do: Keep us in the game, give us a chance to win, and that's what Bills did," Mattingly said.
Kemp's patience at plate
After hearing a light chorus of boos as he came to bat in the first inning, Matt Kemp lined a double over the head of Milwaukee center fielder Nyjer Morgan.
Baseball's best batter to date was hitless the rest of the game, but Kemp still was batting .465 with six home runs and 16 runs batted in — second only to teammate Andre Ethier's 17 RBIs.
Kemp credited patience at the plate and having Ethier and Juan Rivera batting behind him in the lineup for his exceptional start.
"It definitely helps that I have 'Dre hitting behind me," Kemp said of Ethier, and "Juan's protecting 'Dre also, so we've got some protection in the lineup.
"If I get on base, I'm going to try my best to steal that [next] base and get in scoring position for 'Dre and the rest of the guys hitting behind me," he said. "If they walk me, they've got to pitch to another dangerous hitter. It's kind of tough to do that."
As for the home runs, Kemp said, "I just try to put the bat on the ball and let my strength take over."
On Monday, Kemp was named the NL player of the week for the second consecutive week. He also won it for the final week of 2011, so he became the first player to win the honor for three consecutive weeks.
"I forgot that I got it the last week of the season," Kemp said. "I didn't know until someone told me on Twitter."