MILWAUKEE (AP) — With speculation that Don Mattingly could be fired sometime this week, the Los Angeles Dodgers manager needed Clayton Kershaw to pitch well in the worst way.
Boy, did the star left-hander come through for Donnie Baseball.
Kershaw scattered three singles in his second complete game of the year and Matt Kemp hit his first home run since April 24, lifting the Dodgers to a 3-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday night.
“Every time I get in trouble, Kersh saves me,” Mattingly joked. “One more day.”
Ryan Braun managed a pair of singles and Yuniesky Betancourt also singled for the only hits off Kershaw (5-2). The lefty struck out five and walked one.
“We obviously hear the stuff that’s going around,” Kershaw said about the speculation. “I don’t think we need any extra added motivation to play better, but we want to do well for Donnie.
“We’ve always wanted to play well,” he said. “He’s a great manager and a great person, and we know it’s up to us. He can’t go out there and play.”
Andre Ethier homered and tripled for the last-place Dodgers before being ejected by plate umpire Dan Bellino for arguing a called third strike in the eighth inning.
“Today was a great superstar win,” catcher A.J. Ellis said. “We had Clayton do his thing, and Matt and Andre hit home runs. That’s kind of how this has all been designed and hopefully this is what continues from here on out.”
The victory was a respite for 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.
Yovani Gallardo (3-4) gave up three runs, including two homers, in six innings. The right-hander lost his third consecutive start and the reeling Brewers have dropped 15 of 18 games.
“I thought he threw the ball well,” Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said of Gallardo. “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.”
With the Dodgers’ bullpen giving up 12 runs while Los Angeles was swept in a three-game weekend series at Atlanta, Mattingly took no chances. He sent Kershaw out for the ninth, and the ace needed only 10 pitches to retire the Brewers in order.
“Wow, that was pretty good,” Mattingly said. “He was on a mission.”
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said before the game he thought Kemp’s lack of power this season was due to the slugger’s offseason surgery on his left shoulder.
The star center fielder hit his second homer of the season, connecting for the first time in a span of 87 at-bats. Kemp’s solo homer came in the sixth.
“I haven’t been hitting the way I should be hitting,” Kemp said. “I’ve been a little disappointed, but I’m still in the cages working, trying to figure this thing out. I believe in myself and I think by the end of the year I’ll be getting the job done.”
Colletti said his team, second-to-last in the majors in scoring at 3.4 runs per game, needed to hit better in the clutch. The Dodgers went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position against the Brewers.
“It feels good but we still need to score more runs,” Ethier said.
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.
NOTES: Dodgers LHP Ted Lilly was reinstated off the 15-day DL. RHP Matt Magill was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque. Lilly will spend a couple of days in the bullpen and is expected to start Saturday against St. Louis. … Dodgers INF Jerry Hairston has tendinitis in his left knee.