Dodgers center fielder scores a run as umpire James Hoye looks on during… (Scott Boehm / Getty Images )
A sweep would have been otherworldly, taking two-of-three downright sweet, but given their situation, the Dodgers had to head out of Milwaukee on Thursday reluctantly pleased just to have taken the series finale.
The Dodgers came into town as baseball’s hottest club, but were quickly brought back to earth with a pair of heartbreaking, one-run losses, each suffered in the Brewers' final at-bat.
But this time they worked the one-run magic, knocking off the Brewers 4-3 behind another home run by Matt Kemp and a game-saving, stunning defensive play by Jerry Hairston Jr.
The victory raised the Dodgers' record to 10-3 as they headed for a weekend series in Houston.
The Dodgers were already up 4-3 in the eighth when a two-out walk enabled Brewers pinch-runner Carlos Gomez to steal second and advance to third when catcher Matt Treanor’s throw sailed into center field for an error.
Shortstop Alex Gonzalez then hit a bullet down the third-base line. Hairston, playing third for Juan Uribe (out with a sore wrist), dived to his right, nabbing the ball near the foul line. With the speedy Gonzalez streaming toward first, Hairston threw to first ... on his knees.
The throw was on the money, easily in time to nail Gonzalez and prevent the tying run from scoring. It was the Dodgers' finest defensive play of the year.
The Dodgers began the afternoon game by taking the early lead, scoring once off two-time ex-Dodger Randy Wolf in the second inning. The Dodgers loaded the bases on an Andre Ethier double, a walk and a hit batter before Treanor scored the run with a sacrifice fly.
But this three-game series went back and forth each day, and in the bottom of the second, Milwaukee scored twice to take the lead against Aaron Harang.
Singles by George Kottaras and Gonzalez preceded a run-scoring double by Travis Ishikawa. Wolf then helped himself with a sacrifice fly.
The Dodgers came right back to regain the lead with a pair of runs in the third. They put together four consecutive singles by Mark Ellis, Kemp, Juan Rivera and Ethier, the latter two driving in a run.
The Dodgers pushed their lead to 4-2 in the fifth on a solo home run by Kemp. It was his major-league leading seventh homer of the season. Kemp and Ethier also tied for the majors' lead in RBIs with 18.
The Brewers got one back in the sixth after Aramis Ramirez singled and Gonzalez was credited with a hit that went off Hairston’s glove. Ishikawa’s base-hit scored one, but Harang ended the threat by striking out Mat Gamel.
Harang left after the sixth, having allowed three runs on eight hits and one walk. Harang, who struck out nine consecutive Padres in his last start, struck out three.
Wolf also went six, surrendering his four runs on seven hits and a walk.
The Dodgers turned the final three innings over to their bullpen, which had some rough moments in Milwaukee.
Jamey Wright, who hadn't pitched since Saturday, struck out the side in the seventh and the first two Brewers in the eighth, before Hairston saved the run.
The Dodgers turned the ninth over to Javy Guerra, who had blown the save in the series opener. Backed by another strong defensive play by Hairston -- he threw out Ishikawa with a barehanded, running grab of his bunt -- Guerra closed it down for his major-league leading sixth save.
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