The Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers were two of the league’s hottest teams entering their three-game set this weekend, and with each club embroiled in a tight race for a playoff spot, their margins for error are small.
The distance between the teams has proven to be even less.
After Milwaukee’s extra-innings win on Saturday evened the series, the Brewers will look to secure their fifth straight series victory on Sunday at Dodger Stadium.
The Brewers (71-53) had won eight of their previous nine games when they arrived in Los Angeles, but their 5-3 loss on Friday was the Dodgers’ fifth straight victory, keeping Los Angeles tied with Arizona atop the NL West.
Milwaukee sent the Dodgers (63-60) back to second place—one game back—on Saturday, earning a 4-3 win in 10 innings and maintaining its two-game lead over St. Louis atop the NL wild card race.
“We just have to move on,” Los Angeles manager Joe Torre said. “It was a tough game. They came back, we came back. We continue to fight. Hopefully we’ll continue the rest of the year.”
Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy made a key error that helped Los Angeles tie the game at 3 in the ninth, but Hardy also hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning and drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th with a single.
In addition to winning four straight series overall, Milwaukee is also looking for its seventh straight victory in a road set. The Brewers are a major league-best 16-5 on the road since the beginning of July.
Jeff Suppan has been a big reason for that success, as Milwaukee has won all five of his road starts over that span. Suppan (8-7, 4.56 ERA) has won his last three starts overall—all of them on the road—compiling a 2.05 ERA in 22 innings.
He gave up four hits and two runs in eight innings of a 5-2 win at San Diego on Tuesday, though he admitted pitching at pitcher-friendly Petco Park may have aided his effort.
“There were some plays where the ballpark helped me,” Suppan said. “… But I’m not pitching to the ballpark.”
The right-hander, who attended high school in the Los Angeles area and owns a restaurant there, has won his last three visits to Dodger Stadium, but has a 5.14 ERA in five career starts there. He hasn’t faced the Dodgers this year.
Clayton Kershaw (2-3, 3.78) will face Milwaukee for the first time. The 20-year-old rookie has begun to live up to expectations in recent weeks, going 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA in his last four starts. He has struck out 23 in 25 innings over that span.
The Brewers have lost four straight series at Dodger Stadium, dropping 11 of 14 there before Saturday’s win. They can split the six-game season series with a victory in this game.
They’re hoping to receive a boost in the possible return of left fielder Ryan Braun, who hasn’t started since last Saturday due to a back ribcage strain. Braun—Milwaukee’s leader in batting average, home runs and RBIs—had a pinch-hit double and scored Saturday.