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MIL@LAD: Mattingly on tough 3-2 loss to the Brewers

LOS ANGELES -- The Albuquerque Isotopes have enjoyed Matt Kemp's bat over the last two days during his two-day rehab assignment. The Dodgers are going to enjoy it even more when he makes his return to the lineup Tuesday night.

Yes, for the most part, Los Angeles has been fine without its star center fielder.

The team went 9-5 in his absence, with contributions from guys up and down the lineup night in and night out. The team's lead in the NL West has even grown larger during that span.

But there are games when his bat is greatly missed. Monday night's 3-2 loss to the Brewers is a prime example of that as the Dodgers failed to add another come-from-behind victory to their list of recent dramatic wins.

"We've felt like we've talked about it from Spring Training to starting last year, it's going to take more than one guy to do this," manager Don Mattingly said. "We're going to have to have contributions all throughout our clubhouse and our club, and we're getting it."

That just wasn't the case on Monday night.

Kemp, who homered twice in Albuquerque in as many days, was back in the clubhouse -- along with Juan Rivera -- following the loss, prompting Andre Ethier to joke the "reinforcements" were back.

Those reinforcements would have come in handy during the loss. Despite doubling the amount of hits the Brewers got, the Dodgers couldn't convert late in the game with a chance to tie it up. After the team cut its deficit in half in the bottom of the eighth on a Jerry Hairston Jr. RBI single, the Dodgers were unable to muster anymore offense with one out and one on.

Then, in the ninth, pinch-hitter Ivan De Jesus drew a one-out walk, but a groundout and a strikeout ended the game with the runner still on base.

"We had a few chances, not a ton," Mattingly said after the game.

Those chances should increase once Kemp rejoins the lineup. The center fielder was placed on the DL on May 14 after hitting .359 with 12 homers and 28 RBIs to start the season, forcing a number of teammates to step up.

It appeared early Monday that was going to be the case again. Kemp's replacement in center field, Tony Gwynn, opened things up in the bottom of the first with a first-pitch single to right, followed by a steal, his third in two games. Gwynn would score on a two-out double by Ethier, who took sole possession of the NL lead for RBIs with 42 on the hit.

But the offense sputtered from there, and Milwaukee capitalized on a couple of opportunities and made the most of a strong seven-inning, nine-strikeout performance by Shaun Marcum.

The first opportunity for the Brewers came in the fourth inning when Aramis Ramirez drove an 0-1 pitch from Aaron Harang into the stands to tie the game.

"It was a fastball down and away," said Harang, who earned the loss after allowing three runs -- one earned -- in five innings. "He did a good job of hitting that. A.J. [Ellis] came in after the inning and we were both stunned by the way he hit that ball, but he hit it well."

Then, in the sixth inning, the Brewers got a favorable call from the first-base umpire, who called James Loney off the base on a toss from Harang. The batter, Norichika Aoki, would wind up scoring the go-ahead run later in the inning on another hit from Ramirez.

"I didn't see the replay," said Ramirez, who was on the top step of the Brewers' dugout at the time. "[The umpires] are humans. They make mistakes, and sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't."

In Loney's opinion, that the umpires can make mistakes in key moments presents the problem.

"You always know stuff like that is going to happen," he said. "But that made such a big difference in the game. It's not necessarily getting the call wrong, it's not getting help. I caught the ball, I know I was on the base."

Mattingly, who was initially at a loss for words about the play, came out to ask for help, but the umpire told him he was 100 percent sure the call was right.

The Brewers went on to score two runs in that inning, giving the team enough of a lead to hold back the Kemp-less Dodgers.

And even though the center fielder joked after the game that Mattingly is giving him the day off Tuesday, the manager said all systems should be a go for one of the "reinforcements" to make its return.

"If nothing from the time he played today to game time tomorrow, if he doesn't wake up feeling something going on, then he'll be in the lineup," Mattingly said.

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