With all the good things that happened, manager Joe Torre is still cautious. When asked to grade the club's remarkable start, he said "Incomplete. That's the only thing I can give it at this point because the back half, just like in golf the back nine, is the toughest one to play. We're going to have to go out there and continue to live up to ourselves."
The 1977 Dodgers were a nearly identical 57-31 after 88 games, the best start in club history and 59-33 at the All-Star break in Tommy Lasorda's first full season as manager. They lost to the Yankees in the World Series ix six games.
Ramirez doubled in the first, singled in the third, walked in the fifth and doubled in the seventh as the Dodgers rolled up a 6-0 lead. He's 11-for-29 (.379) with three homers, nine RBIs and eight runs in nine games since returning from the suspension.
To add icing on the cake, Brad Ausmus, filling in for Russell Martin, also homered, calling it "pure luck."
"One thing you always a have a concern when you're heading toward the All-Star break is you sort of take it before it gets here, this ballclub didn't do that," Torre said. "If we win series, we can't get hurt."
The Dodgers continued their power surge, belting 10 homers in the three-game series after hitting seven in the previous eight games.
However, Torre couldn't keep from seeing the dark side.
All-Star closer Jonathan Broxton is on the disabled list with an injured toe, a condition that will not correct itself without rest. After the search for a fifth starter started during spring training, the club is searching with 74 games left in the season. Hiroki Kuroda, who missed two months with a pulled muscle in his side, has not found his stride. He pitched a test inning against Milwaukee and was roughed up for three runs as his earned run average swelled to 4.67.
Cruising with a 6-0 lead, the Dodgers had to fight off the Brewers who scored a pair of runs in both the seventh and eighth inning before Ramon Troncoso, apparently the temporary closer, allowed a pair of single but closed the game out in the ninth by retiring Steve Braun, who was the potential tying run at the plate.
But the Dodgers did record a 6-3 record on their nine-game road trip to San Diego, New York and Milwaukee, no little feat.
"We did some good things on this road trip," Torre said. "The most important thing probably was the ability to bounce back after we lost a game."
A walk to Rafael Furcal, Ramirez's double and a walk to Casey Blake preceded Loney's RBI single and an outfield error that allowed a second run.
Kershaw struggled in the first inning, giving up a double and loading the bases with two straight walks before buckling down to strike out Mike Cameron.
Kershaw would give up one run (on a leadoff double in the seventh that scored after Kuroda took over) on a pair of walks and a single hit in his next five innings.
"That first inning I felt pretty good, I was missing some spots by just a little bit," said Kershaw, who needed 31 pitches to get out of the first inning. "I obviously threw too many pitches, but that's another story."
Los Angeles added another run in the first when Brad Ausmus slugged his first homer of the season and they added two more runs in the fifth when Andre Ethier singled and Ramirez walked. After a wild pitch, Casey Blake's ground ball and another Loney single made it 5-0.
Hudson homered in the seventh and eighth (#6 & #7), the second time in Hudson's career that he homered from both sides of the plate in the same game, before Kuroda's double allowed Kershaw's run to score, then gave up a sac fly. Kuroda stuck around long enough in the eighth to issued a walk and a double. James McDonald surrendered a sac fly and bounced a wild pitch that allowed two more runs, both credited to Kuroda.
In all, the Dodgers hit 10 home runs in the three-game series. And Ethier's 18 dingers puts him in 10th place in the National League.
And Hudson summed the first half up this way: "Guys want to have quality at-bats and we still have to go out there. 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."
Score by Innings Los Angeles 200 121 010-7 Milwaukee 000 000 220-4 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Furcal ss 3 1 0 0 .256 Ethier rf 5 1 1 0 .250 Ramirez lf 3 2 3 0 .355 Kuroda p 0 0 0 0 .000 McDonald p 0 0 0 0 .000 Loretta ph 1 0 0 0 .245 Troncoso p 0 0 0 0 .000 Blake 3b 3 0 1 1 .285 Loney 1b 4 0 2 2 .281 Kemp cf 4 0 0 0 .320 Hudson 2b 4 2 2 2 .283 Ausmus c 3 1 1 1 .286 Kershaw p 3 0 0 0 .148 Pierre lf 1 0 0 0 .328 --------------------------------- Totals 34 7 9 6 Milwaukee 30 4 6 3 Error- Furcal (11). 2B- Ramirez 2 (11). HR- Ausmus (1), Hudson 2 (7). RBI- Loney 2 (54), Ausmus (5), Blake (55), Hudson 2 (48). LOB- Los Angeles 7, Milwaukee 8. DP- Kemp and Loney. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Kershaw (7-5) 6.0 2 1-1 5 4 3.16 Kuroda 1.1 2 3-3 1 0 4.67 McDonald 0.2 0 0-0 0 1 4.71 Troncoso (sv 5) 1.0 2 0-0 0 1 1.75 WP- McDonald. T- 3:10. Att- 42,241.Dodger Blue Notes-- Kershaw ran his scoreless innings streak to 17 before it ended in the seventh. ...It was Hudson's fourth career multi-homer game and first since July 31, 2006. ...Broxton will attend the festivities in St. Louis but will not pitch. ...The Dodgers have won 50 of 76 games from Milwaukee since they moved into the National League. ...Los Angeles series record is 18-6-5 and are 18-11 in the final games of their series. ...Matt Kemp went 0-for-4 but with a .432 average in July. He has hit a blistering .528 while batting in the eighth slot this season. ...Loney increased his hitting streak to 10 games, his second streak of 10 games or more this season. Hudson (2), Kemp (2) and Furcal have also had 10+ streaks. ...The Dodgers have the best record in baseball, two better than the Boston Red Sox. ...The Dodgers will open a 10-game homestand after the break, hosting Houston, Cincinnati and Florida. ...