Matt Kemp didn’t have too much to say about his seventh home run of the season, and reliever Jamey Wright wasn’t crowing about his five strikeouts in two innings.
Instead, both players were raving about a couple of late-inning defensive plays by Jerry Hairston Jr. that helped the Los Angeles Dodgers hang on for a 4-3 victory Thursday and avoid a sweep by the Milwaukee Brewers.
”Jerry did a great job,” Kemp said. ”He made two amazing plays.”
With the Dodgers leading by a run in the eighth, Hairston made a critical defensive play at third base with a runner on third and two outs. Hairston dove to field a sharp ground ball by Alex Gonzalez, then made a long throw to first from an awkward angle to end the inning.
Hairston then made another impressive play to start the ninth, charging a bunt and throwing out Travis Ishikawa.
”Jerry shows why he’s so valuable on those two plays,” Wright said. ”Wow. Saved the game for us right there. Pretty fun to watch.”
Wright wasn’t too bad himself, striking out five straight in the seventh and eighth innings.
”It usually takes me about two months to get that many strikeouts,” Wright said. ”Today was my mom’s birthday. Maybe that’s it.”
Kemp’s solo homer to lead off the fifth continued his torrid start to the season.
”I’m just doing what I’m supposed to be doing, driving in runs, trying to help my team win,” Kemp said.
Andre Ethier and Juan Rivera added RBI singles for the Dodgers, who lost the first two games of the series on late-game fireworks by the Brewers.
Javy Guerra pitched a scoreless ninth, his sixth save in seven opportunities this season.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly called it a ”fairly significant” win, with his team bouncing back after two close losses.
”Really, we came in and could have got swept – but we could have swept them just as easily,” Mattingly said.
Ishikawa had a double, a single and two RBIs for Milwaukee.
Ryan Braun was 0 for 11 in the three-game series against the Dodgers, striking out in his final two at-bats Thursday.
”We kind of tried to attack him for the most part,” Mattingly said. ”He’s been swinging OK, but hasn’t really hit too much power yet.”
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said he wasn’t concerned.
”Braunie, we’ll get him going soon,” Roenicke said. ”He’s been playing a bit under the weather.”
And Roenicke raved about Hairston, who played a critical role in the Brewers’ playoff push in the second half of last season.
”He’s a great ballplayer,” Roenicke said. ”I can’t think of anybody that’s a better utility man than him. The plays he can make defensively – it showed this series, it showed last year.”
Brewers starter Randy Wolf (0-2) went six innings, giving up four runs and seven hits with a walk, a strikeout, a hit batsman and the home run to Kemp. Wolf also helped out with his bat, hitting a sacrifice fly.
Dodgers starter Aaron Harang (1-1) also went six innings, giving up three runs and eight hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the second when Ethier hit a one-out double, Hairston was hit by a pitch and James Loney walked to load the bases. Ethier scored on a sacrifice fly by Matt Treanor, but the inning ended when Harang hit into a forceout at second base.
Milwaukee answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning, starting with a pair of singles by George Kottaras and Gonzalez to set up Ishikawa’s RBI double. Gonzalez then scored on a sacrifice fly by Wolf.
Los Angeles retook the lead in the third when Wolf allowed four straight singles, including RBIs by Ethier and Rivera, and extended the lead to 4-2 with Kemp’s solo home run to lead off the fifth.
The Brewers cut the lead to 4-3 on an RBI single by Ishikawa in the sixth.
The Dodgers threatened again in the eighth, putting runners on second and third with one out. But Kottaras caught Hairston off the bag at third and threw him out, and Treanor struck out to end the inning.
Notes: Mattingly said infielder Juan Uribe has a wrist injury that will require further evaluation, and he is likely to see a specialist when the Dodgers travel to Houston for a weekend series. … Treanor had a triple in the fourth, the fourth of his career. … Thursday’s attendance was 30,091.