But without the skill of Kershaw and Greinke, Los Angeles still won, 3-2, thanks to a quality start from Mike Bolsinger, a bit of luck and some clutch hitting.
Bolsinger, who had not made it past 5 1/3 innings in his last five starts, held his own against Milwaukee, overcoming two wild pitches to surrender two runs and six hits in six innings.
Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson, on the other hand, was dominant through the sixth inning, handcuffing Los Angeles and not giving up a hit until the sixth. He struck out six and walked two, looking significantly better than his 4.50 ERA and 1.31 WHIP.
So with the ninth spot in the lineup coming around to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning, Manager Don Mattingly decided to pull Bolsinger, who had only thrown 83 pitches, in hopes of generating some offense. But pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo grounded out quietly to third, and the inning ended with no runs.
Chin-hui Tsao came on in relief in his first appearance for the Dodgers and gave up two hits, but one baserunner was caught stealing and Tsao struck out Nelson to keep things close.
One current and one former All-Star, Yasmani Grandal and Yasiel Puig, went down quietly to start the bottom of the seventh. Then, Alex Guerrero sent the first pitch he saw down the third-base line, where Hernan Perez scooped up the grounder but dropped the ball and couldn’t recover in time to force out Guerrero at first base.
The Dodgers had already squandered one prime opportunity in the fifth inning, when Puig reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and advanced to third on the throw, all with one out. Guerrero struck out and Jimmy Rollins flied out to end their best scoring threat up to that point.
But Rollins didn’t let a second opportunity pass him by, connecting on a line drive to center field to put runners on the corners after Guerrero reached on an error. Rollings promptly stole second base and came around to score along with Guerrero when pinch-hitter Andre Ethier punched a single to center.
With the score tied, 2-2, Joc Pederson, who had already struck out twice on the night, sent a high looping fly ball to the left-field corner. Gerardo Parra, shading toward center field, could not track the ball down and misplayed it off the wall, allowing Ethier to round the bases.
It was Ethier’s first pinch-hit RBI on the year, and Pederson’s 12th two-out RBI.
J.P. Howell and Kenley Jansen combined to shut out the Brewers over the final two innings for the win, with Jansen picking up his 15th save of the season.
The Dodgers were also lucky to survive two costly wild pitches.
In the top of the fifth inning, Bolsinger gave up back-to-back singles to the seventh and eighth hitters, Jean Segura and Scooter Gennett. A wild pitch to Nelson advanced the runners to second and third bases, then an RBI groundout scored Segura and put Gennett on third. Another wild pitch to Jonathan Lucroy scored Gennett and gave the Brewers a 2-0 edge.