If there is such thing as making a statement in mid-August, the Milwaukee Brewers did just that this weekend at Dodger Stadium.
The Brewers completed a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers with a 7-2 victory Sunday, as Wily Peralta earned his major-league best 15th win of season by making seven early runs hold up with six scoreless innings at Chavez Ravine.
Despite having to face All-Stars Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke four times in the matter of a week, Milwaukee took five of six games from Los Angeles. The Dodgers, who entered this weekend with the best record in the National League, hadn’t been swept in a three-game series all year prior to Sunday.
Was this a statement made?
"Yeah, I think so," Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "These guys are good. I mean, this could be a potential playoff matchup, who knows?
"Any time you come into their place and play the way we did against the best guys they’ve got — Greinke and Kershaw, and Haren is pretty good too — any time you can do what we did against these guys, it says a lot about our team and how good we are."
After rallying against the Dodgers bullpen to win Friday and having Yovani Gallardo outduel Kershaw on Saturday, the Brewers put the series finale away early with seven runs in the first four innings.
Lucroy drove in five runs in his first two at-bats, blasting a two-run homer off Haren in the first and clearing the bases with a two-out double off the wall in the second. The double was Lucroy’s 40th of the season, tying him with Miguel Cabrera for the league lead.
"We were just talking about his hitting with runners in scoring position, what kind of at-bats he has," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Lucroy. "Two great (at-bats). I don’t think numbers always show what kind of guy he is, but he has great at-bats when you need them."
The Brewers added a run in the third on a sacrifice fly from Jean Segura, while Carlos Gomez put Milwaukee up 7-0 in the fourth with his 20th home run of the season.
While only one of the six innings he worked was clean, Peralta kept the Dodgers offense off the scoreboard by working out of multiple jams. The young right-hander allowed five hits and walked three but struck out five, lowering his ERA to 3.32 in the process.
"When he gets people on base, he’s able to not worry about giving up one run (with the early lead), just making sure he doesn’t give up a lot," Roenicke said. "The game could have changed in a hurry. They had opportunities where they get a big hit and all of a sudden we have a close ballgame. I liked the way Wily threw. He kept at them and made some big pitches when he needed to."
Since allowing nine earned runs to the Phillies on July 8, Peralta is 6-1 with a 1.79 ERA in seven starts. The 25-year-old gave the Brewers their 22nd quality start in their last 26 games, as Milwaukee’s starting pitchers have a 2.46 ERA over that stretch.
"He’s been great," Lucroy said of Peralta. "You can’t really say any more about him. Any time you can dominate like he did against these guys — that’s a pretty good lineup — I think it says a lot about how good you are. He’s been a big part of it and he’s going to be a big part going down the road."
Considering the Dodgers had lost back-to-back games just once in the 45 times Kershaw and Greinke have started consecutively over the past two years, a series win would have been an accomplishment for the Brewers. Instead, Milwaukee walked away with a sweep.
The Brewers faced quite the trap game Sunday after pulling out wins in back-to-back games that had a postseason feel. It wouldn’t have been surprising to see a letdown in the series finale, but they kept the foot on the gas.
"I’m not thinking that way," Roenicke said of a potential playoff preview. "We played a really good series against a good team. We did a lot of things right in this series.
"I don’t why those things happen. I talked about the Cubs series. We could have easily lost three games there. So, it’s just hard to say why sometimes you matchup with somebody, but it happens. It happens all over baseball."
Early exit: While the Brewers announced Aramis Ramirez leaving the game prior to the fourth inning in a 7-0 game was not injury related, Roenicke said afterwards that the veteran third baseman has been battling a tight right hamstring.
"I’ve been asking him and staying in touch with him through games," Roenicke said. "That’s why he came out early."
With the lopsided score, Roenicke was also able to give Ryan Braun and Gomez the final two defensive innings off.