LOS ANGELES--The Los Angeles Dodgers don't have many weaknesses but one is the relief corps in front of excellent closer Kenley Jansen.
The Milwaukee Brewers exploited that weakness Friday night at Dodger Stadium, breaking through for five runs in the eighth inning to erase a 2-0 deficit and earn a 6-3 victory in a battle of first-place teams.
Well aware that Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw awaits them Saturday night, the Brewers used the victory to stay two games ahead of St. Louis in the NL Central race.
The Brewers started their decisive rally against Dodgers reliever Jamey Wright, who pitched for Milwaukee when Miller Park opened. With one down, Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez singled, setting up a run-scoring hit by Scooter Gennett.
Khris Davis tied the game with a double to the wall in right-center and Gennett likely would have scored, too, if not for the quadriceps strain he has battled. An intentional walk to Mark Reynolds loaded the bases and Brandon League came in to strike out pinch-hitter Rickie Weeks but Lyle Overbay cleared the bases with a pinch-hit double.
For Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson, it was another night of getting out-pitched by an ace, to which he has become accustomed. Since being recalled by the Brewers on July 12, he had pitched against the likes of St. Louis' Adam Wainwright, Cincinnati's Homer Bailey, San Francisco's Tim Lincecum and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw.
But, once again, Nelson kept the Brewers in the game, allowing only two runs over six innings. The Dodgers had other chances to score but the big rookie would have none of it.
Former Brewers right-hander Zack Greinke started for the second time in seven days against his former club and allowed only two hits and no runs over five innings. But Greinke also issued five walks, all with two outs, and exited when his pitch count reached 99.
Nelson had to battle like crazy during a 28-pitch first inning just to limit the Dodgers to one run. It started with an infield hit by speedster Dee Gordon, who promptly stole second and continued to third when Jonathan Lucroy's throw sailed into center field.
Yasiel Puig singled to left to score Gordon, and after Adrian Gonzalez flied out to deep center, Matt Kemp drew a walk. Carl Crawford bounced into a force at second, then stole a bag, putting two runners in scoring position before Nelson ended it by striking out Juan Uribe.
Greinke cracked the door open for the Brewers in the fourth with a rare bout of wildness, walking Khris Davis, Mark Reynolds and Jean Segura with two outs. Segura seldom walks -- he had 14 for the season entering the game -- and probably should have swung away because it brought to the plate Nelson, who took a called third strike to end the threat.
Greinke issued his fifth two-out walk in the fifth to Ryan Braun, and even though they failed to break through for a run, the Brewers pushed Greinke's pitch count to 99 by inning's end. That proved to be enough for Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly, who removed Greinke from the game despite throwing a two-hit shutout.
The Gordon-Puig tandem got to Nelson for another run in the bottom of the inning to make it 2-0. After grounding into a force at second, Gordon again stole second base and scored when Puig grounded a single up the middle.
The Brewers put their leadoff hitter on in the seventh against reliever Pedro Baez when Segura drew another walk. But Segura was called for interference when he blocked a relay to first by shortstop Miguel Rojas with his right hand, resulting in an inning-ending double play on Carlos Gomez's grounder to second.
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