LOS ANGELES (AP)—Bases loaded. Two outs in the ninth. Baseball’s career saves leader protecting a one-run lead against one of the best hitters of their generation.
Hoffman got Ramirez on a fly to right to finish the Brewers’ 6-5 victory over the Dodgers on Monday night, winning a showdown that ranks among the best moments of Milwaukee’s up-and-down season.
“That’s not necessarily the situation you want to be facing Manny in, that’s for sure,” said Hoffman, who earned his 24th save of the season and 578th of his career despite giving up three hits and a run during Los Angeles’ three-run rally in the ninth.
“He’s prolific with the bases loaded, and (I had) not great stuff on the mound,” Hoffman added. “It’s an enjoyable win for the ballclub.”
Manny Parra(notes) pitched eight outstanding innings, but Milwaukee nearly blew a four-run lead after he gave up two hits to open the ninth. James Loney(notes) hit Hoffman’s first pitch for a two-run double, and Orlando Hudson(notes) drove him home with a single to cut Milwaukee’s lead to a run.
After the Dodgers loaded the bases on a swinging bunt and a hit batsman, Ramirez came up with the crowd remembering his dramatic pinch-hit grand slam last month.
“It’s an elevated heart rate when he steps in the batter’s box,” said Brewers right fielder Bill Hall(notes), who caught the final out. “He’s about the last guy you want to come up in that situation, but Hoff made a nice pitch, and I was able to secure the win with a nice, easy catch.”
Ramirez shrugged off his 10th straight game without an RBI. Ramirez, who’s in a 7-for-42 slump, went 1 for 5 with a first-inning double, again failing to drive in a run since his pinch-hit grand slam against Cincinnati on July 22.
“He threw me a couple of little curves,” Ramirez said. “I made a good swing on the first one, but then I thought he was coming with a changeup, and he got me. I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit.”
Ryan Braun had a three-run homer among his four hits, but Milwaukee’s All-Star outfielder will most remember the battle of wills between his closer and the Dodgers’ charismatic star.
“The fans got their money’s worth, that’s for sure,” said Braun, who grew up over the hills in the San Fernando Valley.
Kershaw had an 0.79 ERA in his previous nine starts, but the 21-year-old left-hander issued a season-high six walks, including four straight in the fourth inning to bring in two of his three runs allowed. Hall and .207-hitting catcher Mike Rivera(notes) drew bases-loaded walks.
“If I hadn’t pitched the way I did, we probably could have won the game with the comeback we had,” Kershaw said. “I just couldn’t really find a smooth rhythm with my mechanics, and stuff and didn’t really feel comfortable. You can’t have that happen for a whole inning. Walks are aggravating.”
Parra (6-8) had the longest start of his career and the best outing yet in his surge since returning from the minors last month, yielding eight hits and four runs while improving to 3-0 in his last five outings. Although he fell short of his first career complete game, Parra even got his third hit of the season before scoring on Braun’s 22nd homer.
“My stuff wasn’t great, but they put the ball in play a lot,” Parra said. “When you play this team, they seem to be in it all the way. … (A complete game) is a personal goal aside from the team. I went out there with the intention of winning that game (in the ninth), so it’s disappointing.”
Casey McGehee(notes) had two hits and scored two runs for Milwaukee, which has four wins in six games for the first time in a month. The Brewers plummeted from first place to fourth in the NL Central during a dismal July, yet they’re still just four games off the division lead in third place.
“We’re still in this,” Braun said. “I think people sometimes lose sight of that. We still have two months to go.”
NOTES: Dodgers manager Joe Torre said RHP Chad Billingsley(notes) is fine after cramping caused by dehydration forced him out of Sunday night’s game after five innings. Billingsley, who earned his 11th win, did all his normal day-after work on Monday. … Actor Henry Winkler, who played The Fonz on the Milwaukee-set “Happy Days,” attended the game. There’s a life-size bronze statue of Winkler in character in downtown Milwaukee.