LOS ANGELES -- Chad Billingsley was roughed up just enough in the second and third innings to leave the Los Angeles Dodgers' depleted and possibly demoralized offense without much of a chance to catch up, and the Milwaukee Brewers completed an unlikely, four-game sweep of the Dodgers, handing them a 6-2 defeat Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.
That concluded the season series between the two clubs, with the Brewers taking six of seven games from the Dodgers.
Billingsley's latest nightmare began and ended with Aramis Ramirez, the Brewers' power-hitting third baseman, who worked him for a leadoff walk in the second to begin a two-run rally in which four of the first five batters reached safely. Then, with one out and a man on second in the third, Ramirez took Billingsley deep, giving the Brewers a three-run lead.
Billingsley (2-4) fell to 0-3 with a 5.52 ERA in six May starts. For the month, he gave up 42 hits and 18 walks in 31 innings, posted a strikeout-to-walk ratio of less than 2:1 and threw a total of 479 pitches, an average of 18.7 per inning.
The Dodgers (32-19), meanwhile, saw their lead in the National League West shrink by 2 1/2 games during the four-game sweep. The second-place San Francisco Giants now sit just five games behind as the Dodgers embark on a harrowing, 10-game trip to Colorado, Philadelphia and Seattle beginning Friday night against the Rockies.
The Dodgers grounded into eight double plays during the four-game series, including three in the finale.
Peaking early. Billingsley retired the Brewers in order in the top of the first. This is mentioned here because Billingsley is a good guy, and so anyone who chronicles him on a regular basis has to feel the need to say something positive about him, and that is about the only positive thing that came out of this one. That, and the fact he retired them in order again in the fourth. So if you took away the other four innings, when he was getting hammered for four runs on six hits, two walks and two hit batsmen, it was actually a pretty good performance by Billingsley.
Hot hitting. Oh, there was one other positive for Billingsley. He went 2-for-2 at the plate, with a pair of seeing-eye singles, the first just past the glove of a diving Rickie Weeks at second to drive in the Dodgers' first run, the second a shot off the glove of Brewers pitcher Zack Greinke that wound up in fair territory.
Surging. In that quiet, almost-unnoticed way of a middle reliever, Dodgers lefty Scott Elbert has retired 10 consecutive batters over his past four appearances, with five strikeouts. Three of those strikeouts came in the seventh inning, when Elbert mowed down Carlos Gomez, Corey Hart and Ramirez before getting Taylor Green to pop up to shallow center to begin the eighth, at which point Elbert gave way to Todd Coffey.
Double trouble. Following a leadoff single by A.J. Ellis in the fifth, Bobby Abreu grounded into a double play, marking the sixth time in this four-game series the Dodgers had done so. Following a leadoff walk to Elian Herrera and another single by Ellis to begin the seventh, Abreu grounded into another double play, marking the seventh time in the series the Dodgers had done so.
Missed chances. The Dodgers had Greinke on the ropes repeatedly, but never were quite able to break through. They stranded eight runners during his six innings, in the first four innings, leaving the bases loaded in the second and a runner in scoring position in the first, third and sixth. Against Greinke, the Dodgers went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, which is why they managed just one run despite nine hits against him.
If it weren't for bad luck ... . Immediately after getting hit on the left biceps in his first major league plate appearance, Alex Castellanos picked up his first major league stolen base. No, not really. By the time Castellanos slid safely into second, plate umpire Tony Randazzo already had called Scott Van Slyke out for interfering with the throw to second because Van Slyke, who was at the plate, failed to get out of the way of catcher Martin Maldonado. Castellanos had to go back to first and subsequently was forced at second on a first-pitch grounder by Dee Gordon.