No drama as Brewers down Dodgers
Looper's gem secures series win over NL West leaders
LOS ANGELES -- It was business as usual for the Brewers on Wednesday, when baseball prevailed over plunkings.Braden Looper surrendered a leadoff home run, but little else, and the Brewers manufactured three runs in the fourth inning and rode to a 4-1 win at Dodger Stadium that put the spotlight back on the field. Afterward, in a clubhouse surrounded by so much security you'd think it was Fort Knox, the well-behaved Brewers celebrated their first series win in more than a month. "That's good," said Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, who was at the center of a 24-hour melodrama in the shadow of the Hollywood sign. "I don't know about the 'roll' or what can get us going, but every series you win is big. Hopefully, we just keep that going." It had been a while. The Brewers' last series win was June 29-July 1, when they took two of three games from the Mets. Their last road series win was June 15-17, when they swept the Indians in Interleague Play. "Hopefully, it will start a trend for us," said Ryan Braun, who drove in two of the Brewers' runs in the decisive fourth. "We feel better about ourselves." Fielder drove in a run with a third-inning fielder's choice and was booed heartily each time he stepped to the plate. But there were surprisingly few fireworks a day after a game -- and a postgame -- that featured plenty. Fielder supplied the grand finale when he charged toward the Dodgers clubhosue to find reliever Guillermo Mota, apparently seeking retribution for the pitch that struck Fielder's right thigh in the ninth. If Wednesday's season series finale was going to get ugly, it was going to happen early. Fielder batted in the first inning with first base open and two outs, a perfect opportunity for Dodgers starter Jason Schmidt (2-2) to deliver a brushback. The Brewers had discussed that possibility in a closed-door meeting before batting practice. Instead, Schmidt fired a first-pitch strike, and Fielder later flew out. After that, the focus shifted back to baseball. "That's what I expected," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "I was hoping that the result would be different, but as far as any repercussions from last night, I didn't expect anything." Somebody should have told the security guards that the series was over. No fewer than nine of them stood guard in the corridor between the clubhouses for a full hour after the game, on hand to prevent another mad dash to the other side. "I don't think that was necessary," Braun said. "But I don't think the scene from [Tuesday] night was something you see all that often, either. So I don't fault them for doing it." There was no stampede of players this time. That did not surprise Looper (10-5), who allowed only one run on four hits in 6 2/3 quality innings. "Because there's so much buzz, it's hard for anything to happen," Looper said. "Everything is under such a microscope. I just think it was important for us to win a game, No. 1. Winning the series speaks louder than anything else for us right now. We can't mess around with anything else." While Looper worked into the seventh inning, Schmidt bowed out in the top of the fourth, after Lopez's two-out walk loaded the bases with two outs. Schmidt's curveball struck Craig Counsell in the lower leg to force home the go-ahead run, and Braun followed against reliever James McDonald with a two-run double for a 4-1 lead. Counsell tried to score on the play, but was thrown out at the plate to end the inning. That out loomed large in the bottom of the seventh, when the Brewers put a pair of runners on base and prompted a call for pinch-hitter Manny Ramirez, representing the tying run. The Brewers countered with reliever Todd Coffey, who retired Ramirez on an inning-ending groundout to second base. "He's a tough guy to strike out, so you have to make him hit your pitch," Coffey said. Looper made lots of good pitches after Rafael Furcal led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run. The Brewers right-hander, who had surrendered 11 runs and 17 hits in his previous two starts, surrendered no runs and only three more hits after Furcal's homer. "My whole game is keeping downhill and making pitches at the knees, and I think that I did that," Looper said. "My last start didn't go the way I wanted it to, so I went into my bullpen to work on a couple of different things." One of them, Looper said, was to simplify. "I wanted to focus smaller," he said. "Before, I was seeing everything at home plate instead of just seeing a small target. I really worked on that in the bullpen the other day and tried to take it into the game." Fielder, still nursing a right thigh bruise from Mota's wayward pitch, won't exactly be welcomed in Houston with open arms. But he probably won't be booed as hard as he was by the 50,276 Dodgers fans in the stands on Wednesday night. "It's all right," Fielder said. "When you're on the road, that's to be expected. I'm not on their team, so they're not going to cheer me. It was cool. They give a lot of support to their team, which is good." "He handled it great," Braun said. "He was obviously real emotional and fired up last night, but he settled down, relaxed and stayed within himself. ... I'm really fortunate to have him hitting behind me."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.