Weaver's woes spell Dodgers' defeat
Starter struggles as Brewers' arms strike out 11
MILWAUKEE -- On a night which Dodgers starter Jeff Weaver struggled to pitch what his manager called his worst outing of the year, the Milwaukee pitching staff had no such problems.
Brewers starter Mike Burns and three Milwaukee relievers combined to strike out 11 Los Angeles hitters, as the Dodgers fell, 6-3, Saturday night at Miller Park.
"I noticed," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said of his team's 11 strikeouts. "They pitched well. We put pressure on them when we got close, but [one run] was as close as we got."
While Burns cruised for most of his outing, Weaver, who struggled with his control from the get-go, didn't get any early help from behind him.
Brewers second baseman Craig Counsell legged out a triple in the first inning, and Ryan Braun followed with a hard ground ball to shortstop off Weaver. Counsell broke for home and would have easily been tagged out, but Rafael Furcal's throw from shortstop got by catcher Russell Martin, allowing Counsell to score.
"It's a tough play. I'm used to [plays like] that, and usually I make a better throw than that one," Furcal said. "It was a good play. I tried to make something happen. It didn't work, but that's what happens."
Braun, who advanced to second on the error, scored moments later on a single by Prince Fielder to put the Dodgers in an early hole.
Weaver (3-3) stranded runners on base in each of the next two innings, but made what he called his only mistake of the night in the fourth inning on a solo homer by Frank Catalanotto.
"The pitches added up, and really the only pitch I'd like to take back is the fastball to Catalanotto, I just didn't get it in there," said Weaver, who was pulled later that inning after allowing another run. "Other than that, I can live with whatever else happened."
Meanwhile, Burns (2-2), making his fourth career start, was mowing through the Los Angeles lineup. Through four innings, the right-hander had held the Dodgers to three hits and struck out seven.
The Dodgers were finally able to connect on back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning -- a two-run homer by Furcal and a solo shot by Andre Ethier -- to pull within one.
"This game is crazy," said Burns. "I had good fastball command tonight, like my last outing. I threw a couple hanging curveballs that [Dodgers hitters] took for strike threes, and when I did bury them, they chased them. In my last outing, it seemed like they would hit those hangers over the fence, and the ones I buried, they would take for balls."
Burns was replaced in the top of the sixth, but the same Brewers bullpen that allowed seven runs Friday night held the Dodgers to just two hits the rest of the way, and Milwaukee's J.J. Hardy knocked in two insurance runs with a double in the bottom of the eighth.
Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman picked up his 20th save of the season with a perfect ninth.
"It was a bad night for our team," Furcal said. "[Burns] was pitching pretty good for all five innings, and then the relievers made our team work."
Despite the alarmingly high number of strikeouts, the performance of Weaver was the main concern on a day the Dodgers got bad news regarding their second-half rotation. Torre said that left-hander Eric Milton, who was placed on the disabled list with a strained back on Sunday retroactive to June 28, had a setback Thursday that could be a "long term" situation.
With Milton gone, Weaver has a chance to claim the open spot in the rotation, but he would need to pitch more like he did in his other four starts (2-0, 3.15 ERA) than he did Saturday.
"That's probably the worst outing he's had since [he's been here]," Torre said. "He just couldn't locate the ball. He was just fighting himself. You see a couple times he was dropping down throwing sidearm and ... he wasn't really getting away from the hitters."
Weaver, too, said he struggled with his location -- calling himself "erratic" early in the game. Above all, he said the lack of command on his offspeed pitches especially hurt him.
"I think today the curveball was the one pitch that was a little inconsistent more than anything else," Weaver said. "They were just able to put the ball in play and make things happen. The fourth inning, things got away from me a little bit, but at the same time that's going to happen."
Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.