Two bad pitches by Yovani Gallardo were the difference between the Milwaukee Brewers right-hander and Los Angeles Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw scattered three singles in his second complete game of the year, lifting the Dodgers to a 3-1 victory over the reeling Brewers on Monday night.
”He commands all his pitches,” Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said of Kershaw after his team lost for the 15th time in 18 games. ”And they’re all plus pitches.”
Matt Kemp hit his first home run since April 24 and Andre Ethier homered and tripled.
”Those were bad pitches,” Gallardo said of the homers. ”They put a good swing on them and hit them out of the park.”
Ryan Braun managed a pair of singles and Yuniesky Betancourt also singled for the only hits off Kershaw (5-2). Aramis Ramirez’ deep fly went just foul to left field in the ninth.
”Ramirez missed a homer by about six inches it felt like,” Kershaw said. ”I had some big breaks on my side tonight, but we need those. We’ll take them any way we can get them.”
Kershaw struck out five and walked one as the Brewers swung early and often, hoping not to fall behind in the count against the big lefty.
”They were hacking,” Kershaw said of the Brewers plan to swing early in the count. ”They were putting a lot of balls in play.”
The downside of swinging early was that Kershaw’s pitch count was only at 97 after eight innings. He needed only 10 pitches in the ninth to finish the game.
The victory was a respite for Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. He addressed speculation before the game on whether he would be fired this week, insisting he didn’t feel as if he was about to be replaced.
Gallardo (3-4) gave up three runs in six innings. The right-hander lost his third consecutive start.
”I thought he threw the ball well,” Roenicke said. ”He had better life on his fastball today, he commanded it well. His slider was good. He made a couple of mistakes and they got him.”
Gallardo, who had struggled to a 5.06 ERA in his first three May starts, said he felt better against the Dodgers.
”I felt pretty good going in today, probably the best I’ve felt in a while,” he said. ”I made two mistakes, a backdoor slider to Ethier right down the middle and the same thing to Kemp, thigh-high right down the middle.”
Kershaw beat the Brewers for the second time in five starts. He has given up only three earned runs in 39 2-3 innings for an 0.68 ERA in that span.
Kemp, who hit 116 homers the past four seasons, walked to lead off the second and scored easily on Ethier’s triple for a 1-0 lead.
The Brewers tied it in the third. Rickie Weeks walked and later scored on a groundout to second by Norichika Aoki.
Ethier’s solo homer, his fourth, put the Dodgers ahead in the fourth.