Hudson homers from both sides in LA's win
Kershaw tosses six-plus solid innings for seventh victory
MILWAUKEE -- Joe Torre was a little worried his team might start the All-Star break a day early.
Instead, the Dodgers closed the season's first half in the same fashion that's led them to Major League Baseball's best record.
Orlando Hudson homered from both sides of the plate, and Clayton Kershaw picked up his fourth consecutive win as the Dodgers beat Milwaukee, 7-4, on Sunday afternoon at Miller Park to close out the season's first half.
"It was a great game for [Kershaw] and, of course, for us," Torre said. "The one thing you concern yourself with is when you're heading toward the All-Star break, [sometimes the players] take it before it gets here. This ballclub didn't do that."
With the win, the Dodgers enter the All-Star break with the best record in baseball at 56-32, two games ahead of the Boston Red Sox.
Aside from keeping that distinction -- which they've had since May 4 -- Torre said Sunday's win was big for another reason. The win gave the Dodgers a 6-3 record on their nine-game road trip to San Diego, New York and Milwaukee heading into the All-Star break.
"We did some good things on this road trip," Torre said. "The most important thing probably was the ability to bounce back after [we] lose a game."
Kershaw struggled in the first inning against the Brewers (45-43), beginning with a one-out double to Corey Hart. The left-hander got Ryan Braun to ground out, but loaded the bases with two straight walks before buckling down to strike out Mike Cameron.
Kershaw (7-5) allowed one run on two hits in six-plus innings, leaving in the seventh after giving up a leadoff double to Cameron, who eventually scored.
"That first inning I felt pretty good, I was just missing some spots by a little bit," said Kershaw, who threw 31 pitches in the first inning. "The first inning is just always my rough inning. If I'm able to get out of that unscathed, I can kind of settle in after that. I threw too many pitches, obviously, but that's another story."
Despite Kershaw struggling with what he called five "dumb walks," the Dodgers had already given him the lead in their first at-bat.
With one out and the bases loaded, James Loney hit a bloop single into center field. The ball hopped past Cameron as Rafael Furcal and Manny Ramirez scored.
Los Angeles added to its lead in the fourth inning, when Brad Ausmus went deep off Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo, and the Dodgers tacked on two more runs in the fifth.
Gallardo (8-7) was removed from the game prior to the sixth inning after allowing just six hits, but he walked four and gave up five runs.
The Dodgers scored two more runs in the game, both off the bat of Hudson.
Batting left-handed in the sixth inning against right-handed reliever Chris Smith, Hudson drilled a solo homer to right field. Two innings later in the eighth, Hudson homered on the right side of the plate off Brewers lefty specialist Mitch Stetter.
It was the second time in Hudson's career that he homered from both sides of the plate in the same game.
"It was a great way to end the first half. It was how [Hudson] started it, basically," Torre said. "He started it on fire, and this is a great way to end it."
In all, the Dodgers hit 10 home runs in the three-game series.
"That doesn't surprise me," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "You have to remember that they play in Dodger Stadium and the ball doesn't carry there. They have a lot of threats in the lineup."
Between not only battling a getaway day after a 10-day road trip, the Dodgers also had to deal with the excitement of the three-day All-Star break.
With the 2009 first half "forever gone," as Hudson said, the Dodgers sit in great shape to continue their success in the second half. Ranking as baseball's best team record-wise is one thing, but like Torre, Hudson also was impressed with the way the Dodgers played Sunday in a game where they could have easily shut it down.
"Guys want to have quality at-bats and we still have to go out there," Hudson said. "We went out and pitched well and put up numbers and scored runs. Everybody wants to end the first half strong, because now the dog days of summer come."
Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.