As usual, Los Angeles trailed 3-0 after two innings. Chad Billingsley (12-9) served up a two-run homer to Gabe Kapler, the third batter he faced, allowed an RBI single in the second to Jason Kendall, then didn't allow a hit until Prince Fielder singled in the sixth.
"I knew I couldn't give up any more runs, had to just keep battling and try to keep putting up zeroes to keep them right where they were," Billingsley (12-9) said after the game.
"I wasn't really too worried about it. I knew I had pretty good stuff and it was just a matter of staying ahead of hitters and getting the count in my favor." His 12th win matched his 2007 win total.
He dominated the hard-hitting Brewers, allowing five hits, walking two and striking out five, not allowing a runner past first base over the final five innings.
In the meantime, his friends were chipping away at Manny Parra and the Brewer's lead.
Jeff Kent, 40, who is giving a great impression of a 25-year-old, had another three-hit night and hotter than Manny Ramirez, going 22-for-48 (.458) with 11 RBIs in his past 13 games.
He singled Juan Pierre to third base in the first inning and Ramirez's RBI cut the Brewer's lead to 2-1. Kemp's sixth-inning single drove in Matt Kemp, who had doubled, and moved the Dodgers ahead, 4-3.
Casey Blake, who has had 12 RBIs in his last 13 games in Dodger Blue, smacked a two-run home run to tie the game 3-3 and Russell Martin added his 11th homer in the eighth, a high, soaring fly ball that just tipped off Gabe Kapler's glove and dropped over the left field fence.
It was Martin's first homer since July 10th, ending a 27-game drought.
Ramon Troncoso took over in the eighth and after getting the first Brewer on a ground ball, allowed a pair of singles, twice as many hits as the bullpen had given up in the previous three games combined. Joe Beimel took care of slugger Prince Fielder on a bouncer to first base and then Torre called for Jonathan Broxton.
With the tying and potential winning runs in scoring position, Broxton got out of the inning, but with a little help from Juan Pierre. Corey Hart put a charge in one of his Broxton's fastballs and Pierre ran it down on the warning track in right field to end the inning.
Broxton had little trouble in the ninth, fanning the first two and put the game away with a fly ball to right field to earn his ninth save in 15 chances.
Since the squeaky-tight win over Philadelphia in the first of that four-game series, the Dodgers' bullpen has been lights out.
They have combined to pitch 13 consecutive scoreless innings, allowing only three hits, making a huge difference in the five-game Dodgers winning streak while dropping their earned run average to 3.00.
"We just never really lost our confidence, even though we had those two bad games in San Francisco," Beimel said. "We know how good we are, and we realize those things are going to happen during the course of the year. We didn't really let it get to us. We just continued to go out there and pitch the way we know we're capable of."
Neither Chan Ho Park, who had pitched 2.1 innings on Wednesday, nor Hong-Chih Kuo, who had gone a full two innings on Thursday, were available. That left long man Jason Johnson and recent callups Eric Stults and Tanyon Sturtze.
Los Angeles has been tied with Arizona for first place in the National League West for the past three days after spending 22 straight days in second place. The Dodgers have only once been in sole possession of first place all season, when they were 3-1 on April 4.
The Dodgers are four games above .500 for the first time since May 21 and have been five games over .500 only once, when they were 19-14 on May 6 after a season-high eight-game winning streak.
Matchups for the second game of the series have a pair of righthanders, Derek Lowe and Dave Busch on the mound.
Lowe (9-10, 4.11 ERA), allowed three runs on five hits in 6.1 innings in his last start against the Phillies. He induced 13 groundouts and just three flyballs. Lowe has compiled a 1.78 ERA while going 3-2 in his last five starts at Dodger Stadium.
Bush (7-9, 4.35 ERA)?Bush has been sharp over his last two starts, allowing two earned runs and eight hits in 13.1 innings while beating Cincinnati and Washington.
Score by innings Milwaukee 210 000 000-3 Los Angeles 100 210 01x-5 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Pierre cf 4 1 1 0 .279 Kemp rf 4 1 1 0 .298 Kent 2b 4 0 3 1 .277 Ozuna pr-2b 0 0 0 0 .200 Ramirez lf 4 0 1 1 .423 Garciaparra ss 4 0 1 0 .257 Martin c 4 2 1 1 .288 Blake 3b 4 1 3 2 .303 Loney 1b 4 0 1 0 .295 Billingsley p 3 0 0 0 .082 Troncoso p 0 0 0 0 .000 Beimel p 0 0 0 0 .000 Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000 Totals 35 5 12 5 Milwaukee 33 3 7 3 Two base hits- Blake (7), Kemp (29). HR- Blake (4), Martin (11). RBI- Ramirez (17),Blake 2 (12), Kent (55), Martin (54). LOB- Los Angeles 8, Milwaukee 5. DP- Kent, Garciaparra and Loney. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Billingsley (12-9) 7.0 5 3-3 2 5 3.10 Troncoso 0.1 2 0-0 0 0 4.26 Beimel 0.1 0 0-0 0 0 1.85 Broxton (sv 9) 1.1 0 0-0 0 2 3.48 T- 2:53. Att- 44.547.Kemp Learning his Trade
Manager Joe Torre is lavish in his praise of Matt Kemp.
Kemp is batting a team-high .298 with club-leading 14th home run and 62 RBIs, second on the club. His strikeout ratio has improved from the first two months of the season, and his average has climbed 20 points in the past month, hitting .353 over the last 11 games.
Kemp credits hitting coaches Mike Easler and Don Mattingly, but also the new guy with the dreadlocks.
"I'm learning a lot from Manny," he said of Manny Ramirez. "He's always talking about what the pitcher is doing. Hey, he's one of the best right-handed hitters in the game. Who better to listen to? He talks about baseball all the time. I try to learn from people that have been there and done that. They know what it takes to succeed."
Ramirez clowns around in the clubhouse before games, often speaking aloud his favorite phrase -- "Go deep in the count." "It's not a joke," Kemp said. "It's his philosophy. It works."
Penny Not Needed Immediately
Brad Penny, on the disabled list with the same sore shoulder, will not be needed immediately and Torre will take advantage of the off-day Monday to keep the rest of the starters on their regular schedule with Hiroki Kuroda pitching Tuesday against Colorado, followed by Chad Billingsley, Derek Lowe and Clayton Kershaw.
The Dodgers will need a fifth starter when they open a four-game series in Philadelphia. Torre can choose from left-hander Eric Stults or Jason Johnson. There is also a delightful rumor about the acquisition of 42-year-old Greg Maddux from San Diego.
Blake Fitting In
Casey Blake made a crucial error in San Francisco that cost the Dodgers a game and patiently stayed by his locker after the bitter loss to answer questions by the media.
After hitting an important, game-tying two-run homer, a double and single in the win over the Brewers he left the game before the writers could talk to him.
"It didn't cross my mind that people wanted to talk to me," Blake said. "I think it's more important to be available when something goes wrong."
With Manny Mania and Jeff Kent's rebirth, Blake has quietly gone about his business, playing a solid third base and knocking in almost a run a game over the past 13.
"Since the trade happened, I've had a lot of anxiety; that's how it is when you go to a new team," he told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. "You try to fit in, try to impress people, sometimes maybe try to do too much. That's what I didn't want to happen.
"I tried to be as calm as I could, tried to control my breathing, tried to remember what I was doing in Cleveland and not change anything, just tried to be myself."
Martin's Power Outage
Russell Martin slugged his 10th home run on July 10 and finally nailed his 11th over a month later to help the Dodgers to a 5-3 lead.
In between, nine Dodgers have combined for 27 homers, including four from Manny Ramirez in his first six games.
"Finally, it's about time," Martin said. "It seems like it has been been two months."
It was actually 104 at-bats and 27 games without a home run so he had no trouble accepting the drive that bounced off the heel of left fielder Gabe Kapler's glove and over the fence.
Martin's bat is starting to heat up after hitting .158 in his first 38 at-bats in August before going 3-for-3 with a double against the Phillies. Before that extra-bagger, Martin had only banged out two extra-base hits since his last homer.
Dodger Blue Notes --The Dodgers can clinch a season series win with a win over the Brewers today. They have not lost a season series to Milwaukee since 2000. ...The Dodgers inaugural ThinkCure radio telethon began on Friday and continues through the weekend to promote awareness and raise funds for cancer research. ... The Dodgers will host their third 50th Anniversary Fireworks Night of the season after tonight's game. Fans will be able to go onto the field to watch the fireworks set to music from the five decades during which the Dodgers have played in Los Angeles. ...The Dodgers' Women's Initiatives Network is offering a clinic and luncheon with Dodgers players and coaches today.