LOS ANGELES – The first time Matt Kemp went on the disabled list, the Dodgers went 9-5 in his absence. Now they will be without their most dangerous offensive threat for at least four more weeks.
"I believe in the guys who are in this clubhouse, and I think if you ask Matty, he'll tell you the same thing," Tony Gwynn Jr. said after the Dodgers lost 6-2 to the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night and were swept at home in a four-game series for the first time since August 1993.
"We're going through a rough patch. I don't think anybody expected us to keep running the gauntlet like we had throughout the first two months," Gwynn added. "You're going to go through rough times. Every team does, and we're no different. More importantly, we've just got to find a way to stay tight as a unit and not let this injury overwhelm us. Guys have got to do a good job of going the extra mile, but not going out of their skill set. Just do the things they're capable of doing."
Kemp, who was runner-up to Milwaukee's Ryan Braun in last year's MVP voting, was placed on the DL after re-injuring his left hamstring Wednesday night while running the bases in his second game back. The Dodgers' All-Star center fielder, who is hitting .355 with 12 homers and 28 RBIs in 36 games, had just returned from a two-game minor league rehab assignment in which he homered twice.
"We thought Matt was ready to roll," manager Don Mattingly said. "We wouldn't have thrown him out there if we didn't think he was a hundred percent — or if he didn't think he was a hundred percent. This should be a challenging time for us. It's the time you find out what kind of club you are and what kind of character you have. We were pretty resilient for a couple of weeks when Matt was out, and guys stepped up and did their thing. And we're going to have to do it again."
Chad Billingsley (2-4) struck out eight in six innings, but yielded four runs and six hits. The right-hander is 0-4 with a 5.13 ERA over his last nine starts, a stretch that began with a no-decision at Milwaukee after he beat San Diego and Pittsburgh in his first two outings.
This is the longest winless drought of Billingsley's seven-year career. He was 0-5 with a 5.08 ERA in his final seven starts of 2009, and last season went 0-1 with a 4.78 ERA during another seven-game stretch.
Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Gomez each hit a two-run homer and Zack Greinke (7-2) pitched effectively for six innings, The nine-year veteran allowed a run and nine hits in his Dodger Stadium debut, striking out seven and walking one. He allowed at least one hit in every inning he pitched and stranded eight baserunners.
"When you step back and look at the whole series, we were one big hit away from winning all of these games," Gwynn said. "I think that's the difference in us losing these four games and us playing as well as we played before this when we were getting the big hits, we were getting the breaks and getting the calls. But it's not going to work like that for an entire season, so when those things happen, you've got to be able to deal with it and turn the page."
The only other road series the Brewers have won this season was their first, when they took three of four against the Cubs.
"We played four good games," manager Ron Roenicke said. "Having four games against these guys in their ballpark, we had to play four great games to beat them. And we did. We should be headed in the right direction. When we play our game, we can compete with anybody."
The Brewers won the season series 6-1 for their best record against the Dodgers since shifting from the AL to the NL in 1998.
"We were 9-5 without Matt the first time, so regardless of whether he was in the lineup or not, they should feel pretty good about themselves," Gwynn said. "They just swept a first-place team that still leads their division by five games right now. So if the show was on the other foot, I think we'd feel the same way."
The Brewers played without NL MVP Ryan Braun, who was scratched because of tightness in his right Achilles tendon. He first experienced it on May 1 at San Diego, when he hurt himself sliding into second base a day after hitting three home runs against the Padres. He has been playing through it ever since.
NOTES: A.J. Ellis became the ninth different player Mattingly has used in the second spot in the batting order this season, and the fourth in the last four games. He was 2 for 5. ... LHP Chris Capuano will attempt to become the first Dodgers starting pitcher to begin a season 8-1 since Brad Penny's 13-1 start in 2007, when he goes up against Colorado LHP Josh Outman on Friday night in the opener of a 10-game road trip. ... OF-2B Alex Castellanos, who was promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque to take Kemp's roster spot, made his major league debut in left field after a double switch in the eighth inning and was plunked by Kameron Loe his first time up.