WP: Oliver Drake (1-0); LP: Malcolm Culver (0-1); Save: Jacob Barnes (1); Home runs: LA - none; Mil - Ji-Man Choi (1), Keston Hiura (1), Christian Bethancourt (1)
For the second day in a row the Milwaukee Brewers faced an ace, and for the second day in a row he shut them down. But this is spring training, so Clayton Kershaw only went 3.2 innings and the Brewers (11-6-1) once again came back against an opponent’s bullpen, topping the Los Angeles Dodgers (11-8) 7-6 in Tempe.
Kershaw allowed no runs on two hits and a walk, striking out seven. The Dodgers put up a 3-spot in the bottom of the first off of Junior Guerra, with two of them earned.
The Brewers got a run back in the top of the fifth. With Ji-Man Choi on third base, Dodger hurler Malcolm Culver tried to pick off Keon Broxton at first. His errant throw allowed Choi to score and Broxton to get to third, but he was stranded to leave the game at 3-1.
The sixth was the Brewers’ big inning. A one-out walk to Jesus Aguilar, double from Orlando Arcia (sending Aguilar to third), and a two-out walk to Eric Sogard again brought Choi to the plate. His grand slam to center put the Brewers on top 5-3, a lead they would never relinquish.
The Dodgers scored one in the bottom of the sixth, but Milwaukee extended the lead in the top of the seventh on a lead-off homer by Keston Hiura (#Hiura2b). A one-out double from Christian Bethancourt was wasted.
The Dodgers pulled to 6-5 in the bottom of the eighth. A two-out, ninth inning home run from Bethancourt took it to 7-5 into the bottom of the ninth. Then things got interesting.
Jacob Barnes came on for the save opportunity. It hasn’t been a good spring for Barnes - he came into the fray with a 9.00 ERA. I figured that the lead was safe, as he’d only give up one run. I was right, but it was a no sure thing.
The Dodgers used a walk, a single, and an infield single to load ‘em up with nobody out. A sacrifice fly pulled LA within 7-6 and moved all runners up. Craig Counsell went with an intentional walk to reload the bases, and defeat felt imminent. But Barnes reached deep and retired the last two on swinging strikeouts to end the ball game. With the Cubs idle today, Milwaukee pulls to within a game of first in the race for the Cactus Cup.
After today’s action, Bethancourt has an OPS of 1.056, Hiura is at 1.023, and Choi registers at 1.433.
Milwaukee will host the Texas Rangers in Maryvale tomorrow, with Brandon Woodruff back on the bump and trying to find a groove in the race for a spot in the rotation. The Brewers will once again face a real pitcher as Cole Hamels goes for Texas.