"Everybody knows in the bullpen we have a situation where you have to be ready for any situation," said Mota, a former Dodgers setup man. "I tried to go in there and do my job. I was not able to do it tonight."
The ninth inning began on a bizarre note when third-base umpire Joe West asked for the baseball after Mota's fifth of eight allowed warmup pitches and threw it to second base. Manager Ned Yost stormed out of the dugout in protest to no avail.
"[West] said, 'You threw a couple more pitches in the bullpen, so you get five,'" Mota said. "I'm supposed to get eight. Everybody's supposed to get eight pitches to start an inning."
Did it throw Mota off?
"No, no, no," he said. "He's trying to control too much of the game. ... [But] I don't think it had anything to do with the game."
Working with a 4-3 lead, Mota retired the first hitter he faced, but then walked pinch-hitter Delwyn Young on a close call. Catcher Jason Kendall appealed unsuccessfully to West, believing Young had failed to check his swing. Another pinch-hitter, Andre Ethier, singled before Juan Pierre hit a misplaced fastball for a two-run double to left-center field and the Dodgers' first lead of the game. Andruw Jones followed with an RBI groundout.
Mota was seeking his second save this season, but instead took the loss after allowing three runs on two hits and a walk. Dodgers right-hander Jonathan Broxton (2-1) recorded the final two outs of the eighth inning and took the win, and Takashi Saito worked the bottom of the ninth for his sixth save.
Yost had few options left by the time he handed the ball to Mota. David Riske relieved Parra and struck out Jones for the final out of the seventh inning, then retired the first hitter in the eighth before leaving the game with what the team called a hyper-extended elbow.
That prompted an emergency call for Salomon Torres, who had pitched two innings the previous night. He recorded one out and was relieved by Brian Shouse, who retired James Loney to preserve the Brewers' 4-3 lead.
"My only choice left was Mota or [Seth] McClung or [Mitch] Stetter," Yost said. "So I chose Mota."
The late innings spoiled some good ones earlier by Parra, who pitched 6 2/3 innings and should have been through the seventh with a 4-1 lead. Yost was so confident in his starter that he allowed Parra to bat with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth. Parra grounded out.
Out he went for the seventh, when the Dodgers put two men on base with a single to left field and an infield hit. With two runners on and two outs, pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney hit a bouncer to Fielder, who misplayed it for his fourth error this season.
"It's a tough play, but that play can be made," Yost said. "That was part Manny's fault, too, because Manny saw the ball hit to Prince and thought that he was going to take it, instead of covering first base.
"It would have been a tough play any way around, but once Prince recovered, he still had plenty of time to flick it to Manny, but Manny had already shut down. That was a play that got messed up all the way around."
A run scored on the play to make it 4-2, and Parra again came close to escaping the inning when he induced a soft fly ball off Pierre's bat to shallow left field. Braun charged and appeared to make a diving catch, but the baseball squirted away as another run scored.
"That's kind of the way it works sometimes," Parra said. "I think with the way we're playing right now, we still feel confident. It was one of those games where we felt like we were in control the whole game."
Parra had a lot to do with that. He hit a two-run single in Milwaukee's three-run second inning, and Corey Hart drove in a run in the sixth as the Brewers built a 4-1 lead and appeared on the way to their fourth straight win. Parra was charged with one earned run on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked two and hit 96 mph on the stadium radar gun.
He worked more consistently, according to Yost, in the 92-93 mph range, better than in Parra's previous starts. Yost saw it as a sign that his young left-hander was no longer sacrificing velocity to achieve perfect location.
"I took what happened from my last game and learned from it," said Parra, who retired the final nine Cardinals hitters he faced on May 9. "I don't have to be perfect. I can just go out there and get ahead of them. Just before the pitch, I don't have to worry about results."
"I think tonight was a big stride for him," Yost said. "That's the Manny that we saw in Spring Training."