MILWAUKEE (AP) - The Los Angeles Dodgers' offense is sputtering again.
Chad Billingsley tossed seven strong innings, but the bullpen gave up Mark Kotsay's tiebreaking RBI single in the ninth in the Dodgers' 2-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.
The Dodgers have plated one run in two games in Milwaukee after scoring 22 times in their previous four games and are next to last in the NL in runs scored, only ahead of San Francisco.
``It's kind of been our story. It's been tough for us to push runs across on any kind of consistent basis. We've talked about it numerous times throughout the course of this season. Really, this is the game we play every night,' Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. ``(When you) score one run in two days, your chances aren't real good.'
After a pitching duel between Yovani Gallardo and Chad Billingsley, the Dodgers' bullpen imploded in the ninth.
Hong-Chih Kuo (0-2) issued a leadoff walk to Prince Fielder, then was lifted for Mike MacDougal. Casey McGehee singled on MacDougal's first pitch to put men on first and second and Yuniesky Betancourt walked on four pitches.
``They're going to give us an out on a bunt and we walk that guy,' Mattingly said. ``That puts us in no-man's land at that point.'
Kotsay followed with a single and the celebration was on again for the Brewers, who have won 18 of their last 20 to take a seven-game lead in the NL Central.
``For any guy on our pitching staff, we go out there and try to give the team a chance to win,' Billingsley said. ``For us, all pitchers, every time we go out on the mound we try to win the ball game. We can only control what we can control.'
Gallardo and Billingsley were terrific, all night long. Each gave up a run in the second and four hits total.
Billingsley pitched seven innings for the Dodgers, retiring 14 of his final 15 batters.
``I've been struggling lately with my rhythm. First couple innings I was trying to find it,' Billingsley said. ``I was able to get it there in the middle of the game and make good pitches.'
Gallardo allowed a single to Juan Rivera in the fourth, then retired 12 in a row until he walked pinch-hitter Trent Oeltjen with two out in the eighth. Tony Gwynn Jr. followed with a sharp single to put runners on the corners. Gwynn stole second, but Gallardo fanned Casey Blake to finish with nine strikeouts.
``He throws every pitch for a strike, has a lot of pitches. It's no excuse,' said Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier, who is in a 1-for-21 slump.
Billingsley got out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning and Los Angeles took a 1-0 lead in the second when Matt Kemp singled, stole second, reached third on a wild pitch and scored on Aaron Miles' single.
Milwaukee answered in the bottom half on Corey Hart's run-scoring groundout.
The Brewers squandered the only chance either team had to take the lead.
Fielder doubled to start the sixth and reached third on a groundout. But Betancourt swung through the first pitch from Billingsley as Fielder took off for home after an apparent missed sign. Caught in a rundown, Fielder stopped and simply fell to the ground, where he was tagged out by Blake at third.
That was Milwaukee's only hit off Billingsley the rest of the night. The right-hander struck out five and walked two.
``We've thrown the ball good here,' Mattingly said. ``They got three solo (homers) yesterday and we were in the game all day today. Our pitching has given us a chance.
NOTES: Takashi Saito (4-1) pitched the ninth for the win. ... Mattingly said SS Dee Gordon (bruised right shoulder) was hitting off a tee and participating in fielding drills, but is not throwing. The Dodgers are being cautious with the highly regarded prospect, but he's expected to return as soon as he's eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 25. ... Brewers RHP Zack Greinke (11-4, 4.08 ERA) faces RHP Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 1.64) on Wednesday night in the third of this four-game series.
The Associated Press News Service
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