Josh Beckett went into Friday nights game winless on the year and pitched a pretty good game, allowing just three runs over five and one-third innings against the Milwaukee Brewers, who scattered seven hits against him, including a pair of home runs by Ryan Brain and Yuniesky Betancourt. In the end, he didn’t get the decision, but for the first time all season, the Dodgers recorded the win in a game he started. Hopefully this is something for the team, and Beckett, to build on.
The Brewers looked like they wanted to jump out early against Beckett when lead off hitter Norichika Aoki drew a walk, but a rare base running gaffe, negated that free base. After Jean Segura flied out to right field, Braun stepped up to the plate and hit a fly ball to right field. The Dodgers’ infielders Mark Ellis and Justin Sellers duped Aoki into thinking it was a ground ball, confusing him long enough for Ethier to catch the fly ball in right field and fire it to Adrian Gonzalez at first base to end the inning on a double play and getting Beckett off the hook for the lead off walk, to give the Dodgers two on, with two outs. Or, as the legendary Vin Scully likes to say, “deuces wild”. Andre Ethier stepped up to the plate and hit a single to shallow left-center field, knocking in Ellis and advancing Kemp to third base and putting the Dodgers ahead early 1-0. A.J. Ellis flied out to left-center field for the final out of the inning.
Carl Crawford flied out to deep center to start off the bottom of the first for the Dodgers, but Mark Ellis followed that up by singling to left field. Brewers’ rookie pitcher Hiram Burgos got Adrian Gonzalez to hit a ground ball to his counterpart, Alex Gonzalez, for the second out of the inning, but it was enough to advance Ellis to second base. Matt Kemp drew a walk, bringing Andre Ethier up to the plate. He singled to shallow left-center field, but it was enough to score Ellis from second and allow Kemp to advance to third and put the Dodgers on the board with an early 1-0 lead. A.J. Ellis hit a fly ball to left-center field for the final out of the inning.
Josh Beckett threw a perfect frame in the top of the second inning. First, he got Jonathan Lucroy to strike out looking. Rickie Weeks flied out to right field for the second out of the inning and Carlos Gomez flied out to right field to end the inning.
Burgos matched Beckett in the bottom of the second. He got Juan Uribe to line out to third base and Justin Sellers flied out to left field. This brought up Beckett’s spot in the lineup and he promptly flied out to center field to end the inning.
Betancourt led off the third inning by flying out to left field, Gonzalez flied out to center and then Burgos struck out swinging to complete another perfect inning for Beckett, who faced the minimum amount of Brewers through the first round of the lineup.
Crawford led off the bottom of the third with his second home run of the season, extending the Dodgers’ lead to 2-0. Burgos retired the next three Dodger batters, in order, to limit the damages. Mark Ellis grounded out to shortstop, Gonzalez flied out to left field and Kemp hit a warning track fly ball to center field that was brought in for the final out of the inning.
Aoki grounded out to shortstop to start off the fourth inning and Segura struck out swinging for the second out of the inning and the tenth Brewer in a row retired by Beckett. Braun ended that streak and the shutout by hittng a two-out home run to deep right field for Milwaukee’s first hit of the day, and cutting the lead in half to 2-1. Lucroy followed that up with a single to center field before Beckett walked Weeks prolonging the inning. With two on and two outs and the Brewers trying to tie the game up, Gomez stepped up to the plate. After working the count, he grounded out to shortstop for final out and getting Beckett out of an early jam.
Ethier led off the Dodgers’ half of the fourth by striking out looking and A.J. Ellis followed that up by flying out to right field. Juan Uribe managed to draw a walk, but Justin Sellers hit a grounder to shortstop, who flipped the ball to second base to force the slow Uribe for an easy third out to end the inning.
Beckett lobbed a home run pitch to Betancourt to lead off the fifth inning, allowing the Brewers to tie the game at two apiece. Gonzalez followed that up with a single to shallow left field. Burgos sacrificed Gonzalez to second for the first out of the inning. With the potential go-ahead runner in scoring position, the Brewers had the top of their order due up. Aoki grounded out to second, advancing Gonzalez 90 feet away from scoring. Segura then hit a bloop single to shallow right field to plate Gonzalez, giving the Brewers their first lead of the day, 3-2. Segura then stole second base, but Braun struck out swinging, letting Beckett off the hook once again.
The Dodgers led off the bottom of the fifth with Beckett, who promptly struck out swinging before Burgos hit Crawford with a pitch. Ellis grounded out to the pitcher, but it was enough for the speedy Crawford to advance to second base. Gonzalez doubled to shallow right field, scoring Crawford. Matt Kemp grounded out to end the inning, but the damage was done and the Dodgers tied the game.
Nick Punto took over second base duties for Ellis to start off the sixth inning because of what appeared to be a groin injury he suffered in his previous at-bat. In a somewhat surprising move, Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly left Beckett in, who promptly gave up a lead off single to shallow center field to Lucroy. He struck out Weeks but then gave up another single to Gomez, who hit a bloop single to left field. Mattingly then went to the bullpen and brought in Matt Guerrier who induced to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The Dodgers barely gave a whimper in their half of the inning with Ethier leading it off with a pop out to left center field, A.J. Ellis striking out with his bat on his shoulder and Uribe flying out to deep right field.
Gonzalez led off the the top of the seventh for the Brewers by singling to left center fielder and the Brewers, sensing a chance to capitalize, brought in Logan Schafer to pinch hit for Burgos. The Dodgers responded by making their own change, calling on Paco Rodriguez to relieve Guerrier. Schafer sacrificed Gonzalez over to second base and Aoki singled to shallow center field. Kemp committed his fourth error of the season on the play when he overran the ball. This allowed the speedy Aoki to circle around to third base on the play. The Dodgers then made another move, this time a double switch. Mattingly brought in Belisario to relieve Rodriguez and put Jerry Hairston, Jr. in at third to replace Uribe. Aoki got caught stealing when Segura messed up a suicide squeeze. Belisario threw him out at home with ease. Segura then proceeded to strike out looking, ending the threat.
With a potential win under the belt of Burgos, the Brewers went to their bullpen for the bottom of the seventh. They called on Burke Baldenhop to come in on relief. He gave up a lead off single to Justin Sellers, who blooped the ball into shallow right field. Hairston sacrificed Sellers over to second to put the potential tying run in scoring position for Crawford. The Brewers called upon Michael Gonzalez to face Crawford and he was able to get Crawford to fly out to center field for the second out of the inning. That brought up Nick Punto for his first at-bat of the game and he worked the count and drew a walk on four straight pitches to keep the Dodgers’ chances alive. The next batter was Gonzalez, who ripped a double to deep center field, plating both Sellers and Punto, giving the Dodgers a 5-4 lead. With first base open, and the lead evaporated they chose to intentionally walk Kemp to face Ethier. Gonzalez was able to get Ethier to fly out center field, to end the bleeding.
The top of the eighth started out with Hairston committing his first error of the season, allowing Braun to reach first base safely. Lucroy then lined out to shortstop and Weeks struck out whiffing for the first two outs of the inning. Gomez then hit a grounder to third base, but Hairston was unable to field the ball cleanly, allowing him to reach first on his second error of the game and the season. Belisario was able to keep focus thorough all of this and after each error he was sure to pat Hairston on the butt and let him know not to worry about it. Sure enough, Belisario had the needed composure to work through the errors and he struck Betancourt out to end the inning.
Brandon Kintzler took over for Gonzalez to start the bottom of the eighth and almost immediately got A.J. Ellis to hit a comebacker to him, where he tossed the ball to first base for the first out of the inning. Luis “Cochito” Cruz got the call to pinch hit for Belisario and the fans at Blue Heaven on Earth showed their love for him by chanting his name, even though he has been mired in a slump to start the season. He must have felt that love and he came through for the fans by belting a single to left-center field. Sellers followed that up with a double to left field, and Cruz advanced to third base, to give the Dodgers a couple of runners in scoring position with just one out. Hairston came up to bat, hoping to make up for his two error inning. He grounded out to third base, but was able to plate Cruz in the process and moving Sellers over to third. Crawford was the next batter and blooped a single into shallow left field to knock Sellers in for another run. Punto popped out to shallow left to end the inning, but the damage was done. The Dodgers added two insurance runs and led 7-4.The Dodgers’ closer Brandon League took things over for Belisario in the top of the ninth with Cruz staying in the game at third base. League gave up a quick single to Gonzalez to center field. Blake Lalli got the call to pinch hit for Kintzler. League threw a wild pitch, allowing Gonzalez to advance to second base. But he regrouped and got Lalli to strike out swinging and then induced Aoki to hit a ground out to third base, advancing Gonzalez to third in the process. Segura singled to the pitcher, allowing Gonzalez to score. In a rush, League committed a fielding error, which allowed Segura to advance to second ont he play. With a runner on second, Braun stepped up to the plate representing the potential tying run for the Brewers. League dug in and got Braun to ground out sharply to first base, to end the game and record the seventh save of the year for League.After the game, Beckett was in a position he enjoyed better then that last three starts. He may not have gotten the “W”, but the Dodgers did.”It’s just nice to be standing here talking to you guys after a win,” Beckett said. ”I don’t really care who gets the win. That’s something I haven’t gotten a chance to do yet this year. I left a couple of pitches up, but the bats came alive there towards the end and the guys rallied.”Adrian Gonzalez spoke highly of Beckett in a post game interview. ”He’s throwing the ball great and he’s kept us in games,” Gonzalez said. ”We just haven’t been able to get those extra runs to get him a W.”