video thumbnail

MIL@LAD: Ramirez homers, plates a pair vs. Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- A big Brewers win Monday against the team with baseball's best record only helped to soften the blow of another crushing off-the-field loss.

On the field, Aramis Ramirez returned to the lineup with a home run and two RBIs, and Shaun Marcum pitched deep and effectively into an entertaining 3-2 win over the Dodgers on a picture-perfect Memorial Day at Dodger Stadium.

As so often has been the case in this trying season, storm clouds hung over the Brewers clubhouse. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy, the team's No. 2 run producer this season behind Ryan Braun, baseball's top hitter with men in scoring position and a strong All-Star candidate, was an afternoon scratch with what later was revealed to be a fractured right hand. He's out 4-6 weeks, another hard hit to the Brewers' hopes of returning to the postseason.

"That was nice to come through. We've got a lot of guys going down," Ramirez said. "'Luc' went down today, and everybody has to contribute now. We're going to have to pick up again and do better than what we have done so far."

Manager Ron Roenicke's assessment of losing Lucroy: "It hurts our team a lot."

The defending National League Central champion Brewers are 20-28, in fifth place and seven games behind the front-running Reds.

In other words, with Memorial Day in the books there is some serious heavy lifting ahead, and the Brewers will work short-handed. Two No. 5 starters, two first basemen and two shortstops were already on the disabled list before Lucroy joined them Monday night.

"I've never seen anything like this with all the injuries," Marcum said. "But we had to come in here and win. [The Dodgers] are a good team, obviously, with the way they've been playing this year. We needed to get back on track and get a 'W' and try to get this thing turned around."

Marcum did his part.

His seven-inning, one-run performance was a bullpen saver and a return to form after losing his previous two starts. He retired eight batters in a row in one stretch from the third inning to the sixth, but he mostly worked into and out of trouble, allowing six hits and two walks, and stranding runners in scoring position in three different frames.

"He's pretty much always tough," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "He's a little bit like a right-handed [Chris] Capuano. He's going to give you a lot of different looks -- a real good changeup, his cutter. He's going to basically give you different looks and angles all the time, so he's a tough guy to handle.

The Dodgers' only run off Marcum came in the first inning, perhaps aided by the Brewers' recent injury woes. Lucroy's replacement, George Kottaras, was supposed to be off Monday after experiencing left-hamstring cramping the day before. When Tony Gwynn Jr. singled and stole second base in the bottom of the first, Kottaras threw from his knees and Gwynn was easily safe. He advanced on a bunt and scored on Andre Ethier's double.

Marcum avoided further damage that inning, and, in the third, retired James Loney on a long flyout with the bases loaded. In the sixth, Marcum struck out rookie shortstop Dee Gordon with runners at first and third base.

The Brewers led 3-1 by then after Ramirez homered off Dodgers starter Aaron Harang in the fourth inning and delivered an RBI single in a two-run Brewers sixth. That inning was somewhat controversial, as it began with Norichika Aoki reaching on an error charged to Harang, whose throw, according to umpire Todd Tichenor, pulled first baseman Loney off the bag.

Mattingly expressed his disagreement at length before the inning continued.

"I didn't see the replay," said Ramirez, who was on the top step of the Brewers' dugout at the time. "[The umpires] are humans. They make mistakes, and sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't."

Ramirez singled home the go-ahead run two batters later, and Rickie Weeks added a sacrifice fly.

With Kameron Loe coming back from a stiff elbow, Jose Veras ineffective of late and Manny Parra likely to be needed behind rookie Mike Fiers on Tuesday, Marcum batted in the seventh inning even though he had already logged 104 pitches. He returned to the mound for the bottom of the inning and retired the Dodgers in order. Marcum capped the outing with his ninth strikeout.

His 119 pitches were a career high. Roenicke said there was some debate among the coaches about sending Marcum back out.

"I think the decider was that Rick [Kranitz, the pitching coach] felt he really didn't scuffle in any of those innings except for the first one. It was smooth, he really wasn't having to get out of it. [He was] pitching the type of game that when he's really good, he was in that type of rhythm."

Francisco Rodriguez allowed a run in the eighth inning, but Brewers closer John Axford finished the win in the ninth, logging only his second save this month.

Now the Brewers need many more wins like this one to keep morale high.

"Sometimes, what you end up losing is that feeling that you still have the team that can go and win it all," Roenicke was saying Monday afternoon. "That comes into play after awhile. Our guys are still real good right now, and we'll see what happens."

MLB.com Comments