MILWAUKEE -- Lorenzo Cain, an unproven rookie, and Carlos Gomez, an underperformer, will spend the next six weeks vying for playing time in the Brewers' outfield for the rest of this season and perhaps into the next. Consider Round 1 a most uninspiring draw. Cain and Gomez both missed a slew of chances against left-hander Ted Lilly, and the Dodgers rode a pair of two-strike home runs to a 5-3 win at Miller Park in the opener of a three-game series on Tuesday. Both Dodgers homers came at the expense of Brewers starter Dave Bush (6-11), who followed his good-start, poor-start trend. Center fielder Matt Kemp crushed a 447-foot, two-run home run in the second inning that struck the center-field scoreboard and catcher Rod Barajas capped a brilliant Dodgers debut with three hits including a go-ahead, three-run homer in the sixth.
"I haven't pitched as well as I can, and I guess as a whole, we haven't played as well as we can," Bush said. "The inconsistency has plagued all of us, not just me." That's the story of the 59-66 Brewers so far. Cain and Gomez are part of the story of what's next. Gomez returned Tuesday from a three-week stint on the disabled list, free of concussion symptoms and ready to play. But Cain has been excellent in his place, and the Brewers have no plans to remove the rookie from center field unless he plays himself out of the position. That makes Milwaukee's remaining games extremely important for both players, and Tuesday, with Cain in center field and Gomez in right for the still-hobbled Corey Hart (hamstring), neither player distinguished himself. Cain was 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and Gomez was 0-for-3, all against Lilly (8-8). Rookie catcher Jonathan Lucroy was 0-for-2 in the clutch, and overall the Brewers were 0-for-11. Even one hit in those situations could have changed the complexion of a game that included Rickie Weeks' first home run since Aug. 7, Ryan Braun's go-ahead double in the fifth inning and three extra-base hits from red-hot Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee. "We missed some opportunities," manager Ken Macha said. McGehee had the best view of those opportunities. He legged out a triple with nobody out in the second inning that cut the Brewers' deficit to 2-1, but was stranded at third base when Cain struck out, Gomez grounded weakly to the pitcher and Lucroy flew out to right field. In the fourth, after McGehee's two-out double, Cain walked but Gomez struck out swinging at a high fastball. In the sixth, McGehee led off with a double, but Cain flew out to center field, advancing the runner, Gomez popped out in foul ground and Lucroy lined out to second base. "Those runs there, they cost you," Macha said. "When the infield is back, you like to at least put the ball in play." "Their defense was really good, but for my side, I didn't do things fundamentally," Gomez said. "I had a runner on third twice with one out, and the game is supposed to be tied right there. ... One swing, it could have been changed. But this happened, so we'll come tomorrow with more energy and see what happens." The near-misses cost the Brewers a rare chance to beat Lilly, the former Cubs left-hander who had allowed only one run in 14 innings in a pair of starts against the Brewers earlier this season. Since a trade to the Dodgers at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, Lilly is 5-0 with a 1.84 ERA. Bush was coming off a quality start in St. Louis in which he allowed only one run on four hits in six innings. He lasted six again on Tuesday, but surrendered five runs on 10 hits. Two of those hits really hurt. Kemp's was the showiest. He followed James Loney's leadoff single in the second inning with his team-best 22nd home run, a booming shot that struck the center-field scoreboard and even impressed his old-school manager, Joe Torre. "Matt killed that ball," Torre said. But Barajas' hit was the costliest for the Brewers. Plucked off waivers from the Mets on Sunday and making his Dodgers debut, he doubled in the second inning and again in the fifth before facing Bush with two men on base and two outs in the sixth inning. Bush tried to throw a slider low in the zone, but it stayed up and split home plate. Barajas deposited it into the netting that hangs over the Brewers' bullpen in left field. "It was a terrible pitch, no two ways about it," Bush said. "It didn't do much of anything." It gave the Dodgers a lead that would last. Lilly allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings, Ronald Belisario pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings and Hong-Chih Kuo worked around a pair of baserunners and his own error for his fifth save. "That was huge for us," Torre said of Barajas. "He has the threat there, he can hit a long ball. He gave us a bonus with a couple of doubles, but the home run certainly changed the game around." Bush has not won consecutive decisions since late June. Since July 15, he has alternated between quality starts -- outings of at least six innings with three or fewer earned runs -- and poor ones. "It's been frustrating," Bush said. "I'm trying to get into a better rhythm. Tonight is particularly frustrating because I'm so close to putting together another good start. Two outs, two strikes, and it all goes away on one swing. That's tough to swallow. "I made one bad pitch and it turns the whole game around."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.