Matt Kemp’s troublesome left hamstring has forced him out of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ lineup again. And this time, his absence could be even longer than two weeks.
Kemp, playing his second game since coming off the disabled list, aggravated the injury while scoring all the way from first base on a two-out double by Andre Ethier in the first inning of the Milwaukee Brewers’ 6-3 victory on Wednesday night. When he returned to the dugout, he broke a bat over his leg in frustration.
”I just felt it grab a little bit. It’s hurting pretty good right now, so we’ll see what the MRI says tomorrow,” said Kemp, who is hitting .355 with 12 homers and 28 RBI in 36 games. ”We went through all the tests, and I was running real hard and doing everything normal. I don’t know what happened.
”It feels worse than the first time,” he said. ”This is my first time ever really having any hamstring problems, so I don’t know how to really treat it.”
Carlos Gomez tied a career high with four hits, including a a go-ahead two-run single against Clayton Kershaw, and the Milwaukee Brewers handed the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner his third loss in five starts. But Kershaw was more concerned about Kemp than himself.
”It’s frustrating for everybody,” Kershaw said. ”We all feel bad for Matt. I know nobody feels worse than he does. He wants to play — bad. It’s never easy for the team to deal with when your superstar’s out. But at the same time, the games keep coming. So you’ve got to keep playing and keep grinding.”
Los Angeles still owns the best record in the majors at 32-18 despite its first three-game losing streak of the season, and leads San Francisco by 5 1/2 games in the NL West. The Dodgers were the only team that hadn’t lost more than two in a row.
”This is our first tough stretch of the year, but we’ll come out of it and we’ll be better for it,” Kershaw added. ”We don’t know how long Matt’s going to be out, but we’ve got to play like we did the first time he was out, and the guys who stepped up have got to keep doing that.”
Yovani Gallardo (4-4) was charged with three runs and eight hits in six-plus innings with eight strikeouts and three walks. The right-hander was lifted after the Dodgers loaded the bases with none out in the seventh, and Elian Herrera slapped Manny Parra’s first pitch the other way through the right side to cut the Brewers’ lead to 5-3.
Parra minimized the damage by striking out James Loney and retiring Tony Gwynn Jr., Kemp’s replacement, on a double-play grounder, one of three the Dodgers hit into in consecutive innings. The Brewers got an insurance run in the eighth, and John Axford followed Francisco Rodriguez out of the bullpen to get his 10th save in 11 chances and third in this four-game series.
”I felt good tonight and that’s the reason I was in there,” Axford said. ”I felt better today than I even did yesterday. I just wanted to make my pitches, try and get out of there quickly without throwing 25. The last two nights I kept my pitch count down — for me, anyway.”
Kershaw (4-3) allowed with five runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings, walked four and struck out seven. The left-hander retired only six of his final 15 batters, three on bunt plays and one on a double play. Kershaw is 0-3 with an 8.47 ERA in his four starts against the Brewers at Dodger Stadium, compared to 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in his two starts at Miller Park.
”It was just a rough one tonight,” Kershaw said. ”I threw a lot of pitches and just couldn’t put anybody away. I felt like I had decent stuff, but I just didn’t make pitches when I needed to. But give them credit. They had really good at-bats all night.”
After giving up the Dodgers’ first run, Gallardo walked his next two batters before retiring A.J. Ellis on a line drive that held up for Gomez in center field.
”I struggled in that first inning, so it was big for me to get into the seventh,” Gallardo said. ”I’ve was able to command my slider and curve ball behind or ahead in the count whenever I needed to.”
Gomez put the Brewers ahead 2-1 in the fourth with a bases-loaded two-run single through the left side of the infield, and they tacked on three more runs in the sixth.
Rickie Weeks led off with a double and scored on a safety-squeeze bunt to first base by Martin Maldonado. Gallardo followed with an RBI single that hit the left field fence on the fly, chasing Kershaw after 117 pitches.
”Our hitters did a great job, fouling off some pitches and making Kershaw work and get deep into his pitch count,” Gallardo said.
Corey Hart’s bloop single against Javy Guerra put runners at the corners, and Norichika Aoki used his speed to turn a routine grounder to second base into an RBI single as Herrera fielded the ball flat-footed and was a step too late with the throw.
NOTES: Gallardo threw 35 pitches in the first inning and Kershaw made 34 in the fourth. … Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he ”heard a pop” in his right calf while stretching on Wednesday afternoon, and held his usually pregame press briefing in the middle of the clubhouse instead of in the dugout. Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt went to the mound instead of Mattingly to remove Kershaw and Kenley Jansen. … Brewers C Jonathan Lucroy will have surgery Thursday on to put a pin in his broken right hand. Lucroy was injured Sunday night when his wife moved a suitcase in their hotel room and it fell on his hand. … Weeks struck out twice, and has fanned a league-worst 64 times. The nine-year veteran is averaging a strikeout every 4.42 plate appearances over his nine-year career.