LOS ANGELES -- On an evening in which Matt Kemp aggravated his hamstring injury and their offense was stymied by yet another Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher, the Los Angeles Dodgers suffered a third consecutive defeat for the first time this season on Wednesday night, losing 6-3 before 25,509 at Dodger Stadium.
Although the Dodgers (32-18) still own baseball's best record and maintained their lead in the National League West at 5 1/2 games over the San Francisco Giants, this arguably was the lowest point in their season so far. Kemp is scheduled for an MRI on Thursday to determine the extent of the damage to his left hamstring this time, reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw didn't pitch well and the offense has suddenly hit the skids, scoring a total of six runs in the first three games of this series.
Even manager Don Mattingly was a victim of the day's black cloud, popping his left calf while stretching following his daily afternoon workout.
Still smoking. Andre Ethier continued to sizzle with hits in each of his first three at-bats, including an RBI double in the first that drove in the Dodgers' only run of the inning. Ethier finished 3-for-4 and now is 7-for-11 with three doubles and three RBI since going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts on Sunday against the Houston Astros.
Coming up big. Dodgers second baseman Elian Herrera was having a bad night -- he had struck out twice, grounded into a double play and committed a subtle fielding miscue that cost a run -- when he stepped in with the bases loaded and nobody out in the seventh. But with lefty reliever Manny Parra having just trotted in from the bullpen, the switch-hitting Herrera poked Parra's first pitch past diving first baseman Corey Hart and into right field for a two-run single, slicing the Brewers' four-run lead in half.
All is not lost. This is a four-game series. That means the Dodgers still have a chance to avoid the sweep if they can win on Thursday night. With Chad Billingsley on the mound. That was about as positive as it got after this one.
Out of character. Kershaw had a very un-Cy Young-like inning in the fourth, throwing 34 pitches to seven batters. He went to 3-2 counts to three different batters, including opposing pitcher Yovani Gallardo, and issued back-to-back walks to Rickie Weeks and Cody Ransom just before Carlos Gomez pulled a single through the left side to give the Brewers a 2-1 lead. Kershaw would be tagged with three more runs in the sixth -- including an RBI single off the left-field wall by Gallardo -- in what was unquestionably his worst start of the season so far.
Missed opportunity. The Dodgers had Gallardo, the Brewers' ace, on the ropes in the first inning, the right-hander having difficulty locating the strike zone and allowing four consecutive hitters to reach with two outs, three of them on walks. But A.J. Ellis flied out to center to leave the bases loaded after the Dodgers had scored just once. From there, Gallardo settled in and was essentially unhittable the rest of the way.
Too much time. Herrera might have underestimated the speed of Brewers right fielder Norichiki Aoki on a backbreaker of a play in the sixth inning. With runners on the corners and two outs, Herrera fielded a grounder by Aoki and stutter-stepped ever so slightly before throwing to first. Aoki beat that throw by a split second, allowing Gallardo to cross the plate with the Brewers' fifth run. Herrera later would make another costly miscue, struggling to get the ball out of his glove while trying to complete what would have been an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the eighth, allowing another run to score.