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Dodgers avoid sweep as Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier come through

They provide important hits in 4-3 win over Brewers, and Jerry Hairston Jr. comes to reliever Jamey Wright's aid with a sharp play in the field.

April 19, 2012|By Jim Peltz

MILWAUKEE — Aaron Harang made history in his previous outing, and the Dodgers pitcher and his teammates on Thursday made sure they avoided a different kind of milestone.

The Dodgers were in danger of losing their third consecutive game and being swept in a series by Milwaukee for the first time since the Brewers joined the National League in 1998.

But the Dodgers avoided that fate with a 4-3 win to salvage one game at Miller Park.

The victory was highlighted by the hitting of Matt Kemp, who had a solo home run, and Andre Ethier. It also included a spectacular play by third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. and two scoreless innings by 37-year-old relief pitcher Jamey Wright.

With Wright clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth inning and Milwaukee pinch-runner Carlos Gomez on third base with two out, Alex Gonzalez hit a sharp grounder down the third base line.

Hairston, who started Thursday because Juan Uribe had a sore wrist, lunged to his right to make a diving grab, then threw from his knees across the diamond to nip Gonzalez.

"It saved the game for us right there," Wright said. "It was fun to watch."

Hairston discounted his role and said his focus was on "just getting a win" after the Dodgers started 9-1 this season — their best start in 31 years — before losing two walk-off games to the Brewers.

Kemp slugged his seventh home run — most in the big leagues —- in the fifth inning against starter Randy Wolf, an ex-Dodger who took the loss.

The last Dodger to hit seven homers in the first 13 games of a season was Rick Monday, now a Dodgers broadcaster, in 1978.

Kemp's home run gave him 18 runs batted in, tied for the big league lead with Ethier, who collected his 18th RBI with a single that scored Kemp in the third inning.

But Kemp said, "Defense is really what really helped us win this game. And Jamey Wright pitched great."

Harang, who'd struck out a franchise record nine consecutive batters in his last outing, against the San Diego Padres, wasn't nearly that spectacular Thursday. But he was good enough, giving up three runs in six innings.

Closer Javy Guerra pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his sixth save, rebounding from a blown save against Milwaukee on Tuesday.

The Dodgers had an opportunity to score again in the eighth inning, but Matt Treanor missed a bunt as Hairston started toward home. Hairston was thrown out as he headed back to third and Treanor then struck out to end the inning.

"It wasn't a squeeze, it was a safety [bunt]," Manager Don Mattingly said. "If he doesn't bunt it, you don't run. We messed up the baserunning side of it."

The Dodgers on Friday open a three-game series with the Astros in Houston.

james.peltz@latimes.com

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