Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 5/30/12
LOS ANGELES -- It was quite the first inning Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium. Dodger centerfielder Matt Kemp -- last season's N.L. MVP runner-up -- took the field for the first time in two weeks after recovering from a hamstring injury. He then witnessed a cascade of boos when his friend, Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, stepped up to the plate. Braun, who had a 50-game suspension for alleged PED use overturned due to a technicality, paid back the hostile Dodger faithful with a blast into the right-field bullpen following a Nyjer Morgan single. The homer by the reigning MVP gave the Brewers a 2-0 lead -- all the runs they would need to beat L.A. 2-1. Milwaukee also saw a historical first for its organization, as righthander Mike Fiers and catcher Martin Maldonado -- both rookies -- became the first Brewers' battery to make their initial major league starts on the same night. Fiers (1-0) was outstanding, giving up just one run and five hits over seven innings and racking up three strikeouts without a walk. 21-year old Nathan Eovaldi made his first start of the season and took the loss for the Dodgers. He's 0-1. The night, however, centered on come-backing Dodger superstar Kemp, who saw his team go 9-5 in the 14 games he missed with the injury. And after going 0-3 with a first-inning strikeout against Fiers, he nearly helped provide another of the dramatic finishes he's provided on a regular basis the past two seasons. In the bottom of the ninth, Kemp led off with a double after a nine-pitch at bat and was joined on base by Andre Ethier, who had doubled in the Dodgers' only run in the sixth inning. Ethier was hit on the right elbow with a 98 MPH fastball from John Axford, setting up a sacrifice situation which would have moved the tying and winning runs into scoring position. However, the Brewer closer got Jerry Hairston Jr. to ground into a double play after failing twice to bunt the runners over and James Loney grounded out to shortstop to save the game for Fiers. It was Axford's ninth save in ten opportunities, and marked the fourth time this year that the Dodgers have dropped a one-run game to Milwaukee. "All our games are (close)," manager Don Mattingly said afterwards. "That's nothing new for us. I thought Matt had a really good at bat in the ninth. Really good. It's not going to take him long to get all the way back. I thought all his at bats were good." Kemp agreed, saying he felt good all game long. "I didn't feel uncomfortable at all," he said, having played in two rehab games with Albuquerque, going 5 for 7 with two homers. "I had some pretty good at bats. Other than the fact that we lost, I was happy with what I did. "No problems with the hamstring. I was ready to go. I don't even feel it, which is good. I'm definitely confident in my leg and I have to get back to being the old Matt." Kemp also said he thought his teammates picked up the slack while he was in recovery mode. "They held the fort down for the past two weeks. They did a great job, playing good baseball and getting (it) done. But I'm back now and it's really time to go to work. "I wasn't quite used to being a cheerleader: I think my only other time on the DL was in my rookie year. But I think I did a pretty good job and helped the boys out. "It was very tough to be out, especially with the (team) playing so well. There's been a lot of guys stepping up, doing a great job. Tony (Gwynn Jr.), A.J. (Ellis), all the guys who've gotten big hits while I've been gone. Hopefully they'll continue the same now that I'm back." They'll get another chance to beat the Brewers Wednesday night as Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw (4-2) goes against Yovani Gallardo (3-4).
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