Wolf had been very sharp leading up to Wednesday, with quality starts in nine of his previous 13 outings, a 2.65 ERA over his five most recent starts and three consecutive wins.
But Wednesday was more indicative of the way 2010 has gone for Wolf, who has not yet met the lofty expectations that greeted him in Milwaukee. Of his 27 starts, only 14 have met the definition of "quality" -- six or more innings with three or fewer earned runs. Left-handers are hitting Wolf at a .303 clip and have already collected 18 extra-base hits, including 10 home runs.
Compare that to last season with the Dodgers, when Wolf made a career-high 34 starts, 24 of which qualified as quality. That tied Cliff Lee for the most quality starts of any left-hander in the Majors. Wolf limited opposing batters to a .227 average, and left-handers to a tiny .159. He allowed only four extra-base hits to left-handers all year, including only one home run.
"He dominated the left-handed hitters, and he hasn't this year," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "I'm sure he knew his method of getting the left-handed hitters out, and he's probably proceeding the same way. Maybe they made an adjustment on him."
The Dodgers went 22-12 in Wolf's starts last year. With Wednesday's loss, the Brewers slipped to 14-13.
But Wolf isn't quite ready to start thinking ahead to 2011.
"I'm definitely going to make sure I don't give up as many runs," he said. "Don't have 12-run outings. Try not to lead the league in walks. There's a list of things that I could [improve on] next year.
"You have to focus on each start. I've been throwing the ball well lately. Today, I threw a ton of pitches and didn't make the quality pitch in that fifth inning. If I look at the big picture and I look at my numbers, there are obviously a few games that have impacted the numbers negatively. I'm not going to sit here and dwell on that. I need to go out there in my next start and do a better job than I did today. That's what I need to concentrate on."
The Dodgers had two left-handed batters in the lineup on Wednesday -- right fielder Andre Ethier and first baseman Loney -- and they both burned Wolf. Ethier put the visitors on the board with a solo homer in the third inning. In the fifth, after the Brewers had rallied for three runs and a 3-1 lead, Wolf surrendered three runs including Loney's two-run single.
"It's always good, I like facing guys you know," Loney said of batting against his former teammate. "It's always good competition. I've never faced him, [but] I knew what he had."
Dodgers right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (9-11) picked up the win after allowing four runs on seven hits in seven innings. Most of that damage came in the fourth inning, when Corey Hart and Ryan Braun hit back-to-back RBI doubles for a 2-1 lead, and Casey McGehee provided insurance with a sacrifice fly.
The lead slipped away the next half-inning. Ryan Theriot sparked the Dodgers' winning rally with a double, moved to third on an Ethier groundout and, after Manny Ramirez walked, scored on Matt Kemp's sacrifice fly. Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain made a very strong throw home on the play, but the baseball bounced just high enough for Theriot to slide safely under catcher George Kottaras' tag.
"Oh man, I thought I had him," Cain said. "I guess it bounced up a little high. What can you do?"
Casey Blake followed with a double and Ramirez held at third base. Both runners scored when Loney poked an opposite-field single to left for a 4-3 Dodgers lead. Theriot doubled again off Brewers reliever Mike McClendon in the sixth inning and scored a key insurance run on Ramirez's double.
The Brewers had no answers. They managed only two baserunners after the fourth inning.
"Really, their pitching took over," Macha said. "They've got a pretty good bullpen out there, and they shut us down."
Jonathan Broxton held the Brewers scoreless in the eighth inning and Dodgers manager Joe Torre used three pitchers in the ninth. Ronald Belisario retired Bruan on a groundout, George Sherrill got Prince Fielder on another groundout and Octavio Dotel induced a McGehee flyout to end the game.
"That's just interesting," Macha said. "If you don't have the lead after six innings, you're in trouble."
Los Angeles has won the first two games in the series, guaranteeing its first road series win since July 2-4 at Arizona. The Brewers need a win Thursday behind Yovani Gallardo to avoid a three-game sweep.