Bullpen helps Dodgers avoid sweep against Brewers

Unsung hero: Schmidt walked the bases loaded -- all on 3-2 counts with two outs -- in the fifth inning. Dodgers manager Grady Little stuck with Schmidt, who made good on his manager's faith in him by getting Prince Fielder to hit a towering popup to end the inning.

Bad call: Little was upset before the game because the L.A. media questioned his decision to leave pitcher Randy Wolf in to hit the night before. He said he'd call the press box on Wednesday to get their approval on any pitching moves he made.

-- ESPN.com news services

Dodgers 5, Brewers 4

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Jason Schmidt gave his bullpen all the credit for his first victory with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Schmidt escaped a bases-loaded jam of his own in the fifth, and the bullpen gave up three runs but held on as Los Angeles beat Milwaukee 5-4 to avoid being swept by the Brewers on Wednesday night.

"We all know how strong that bullpen is here and they kind of proved it," Schmidt said. "(I) stretched them a little thin, and they did a heck of a job, they're the ones that won that ballgame."

It wasn't easy for Schmidt or the rest of the Dodgers.

Schmidt, the former Giants ace who signed a three-year, $47 million contract in December, was the prized acquisition for the pitching staff, while the Dodgers also signed free agent Juan Pierre and Luis Gonzalez for the outfield.

Pierre broke out of his 0-for-8 slump with two hits and a run, and Gonzalez added two hits of his own after starting out hitless in his first seven at-bats.

Manager Grady Little, who was upset before the game because the L.A. media questioned a pitching decision the night before in a key situation, said the first victory of a season is one of the hardest to get.

"It's the same with the ballclub as it is with guys like Juan Pierre and Luis Gonzalez, anybody starting out a season as a player," he said. "It's a tough time, it's tough getting that first hit out of the way, but once that first hit is out of the way, things kind of start falling into place for them."

Things began falling into place for Los Angeles after Little, who could have been second-guessed again Wednesday night, showed confidence in Schmidt (1-0) even though he'd walked the bases loaded -- all on 3-2 counts with two outs -- beginning with Brewers starter Jeff Suppan (0-1).

The Dodgers had left-hander Joe Beimel warming up in the bullpen to face lefty Prince Fielder, but Little stuck with Schmidt, who made good on his manager's faith in him by getting Fielder to hit a towering popup to end the inning.

"It was a 2-1 ballgame at the time, I didn't have any room for error," Schmidt said. "I didn't throw anything down the middle to anybody."

Schmidt, who finished with five strikeouts, gave way to Beimel in the sixth, Jonathan Broxton in seventh and Rudy Seanez in the eighth. Seanez ran into trouble and loaded the bases on three one-out singles, and the Dodgers brought in Takashi Saito for a five-out save in his first opportunity of the season.

Saito nearly couldn't hold on. He got out of the eighth after giving up a two-run double to Craig Counsell. J.J. Hardy led off the ninth with a solo homer and Fielder doubled, but Saito retired the next three batters in order.

"I wasn't exactly the sharpest," Saito said. "The result was we won even though my pitching line probably wasn't the best today."

The Dodgers opened a 2-0 lead in the third inning off a mistake by the Brewers.

Nomar Garciaparra's sacrifice fly brought home Pierre, who reached third on Russell Martin's single, but the Dodgers tacked on another run when new center fielder Bill Hall didn't take the correct path to Jeff Kent's liner, allowing Martin to score from first.

Johnny Estrada's RBI double cut the lead to 2-1 in the fourth, but the Dodgers went up 5-1 off pinch hitter Olmedo Saenz's two-run double and Matt Kemp's sacrifice fly in the eighth after Carlos Villanueva walked the bases loaded and was taken out for former Dodgers reliever Elmer Dessens.

"We have a pretty good idea of what he throws," Saenz said of Dessens. "In that situation, I've still got to put a good swing on it."

Suppan, 5-0 in Miller Park when he was with the Cardinals and Pirates, made his debut for the Brewers after signing a four-year, $42 million contract, the largest in Brewers' history.

Suppan settled down after the third inning, needing seven pitches to get through the fourth and three pitches to end the fifth. Suppan was finished after seven innings, giving up seven hits while walking three and striking out two.

"I felt my command as the game went on got better," Suppan said.

But manager Ned Yost said that the Brewers didn't do enough for him.

"We let some big scoring opportunities get away," he said. "We had some balls hit right on the nose, but we didn't get a break."

Game notes
Little said SS Rafael Furcal (sprained left ankle) looked good in the batting cage, but still needed to run before they had a timetable of when he might return. ... Yost said disgruntled reliever Jose Capellan needs to report to Triple-A Nashville. Capellan has requested a trade, but is expected to report. ... The Dodgers said Pierre will wear No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day. ... It was 30 degrees with flurries at game time.