Ugly seventh inning dooms Sheets

Ugly seventh inning dooms Brewers

MILWAUKEE -- This one got away from Ben Sheets and the Brewers in a hurry.

Sheets held the Dodgers scoreless on three hits through six innings on Thursday, then surrendered a trio of home runs and six runs in what he called the worst inning of his career as the Brewers fell, 7-2, at Miller Park.

Ryan Braun hit a solo home run on the day his new, eight-year contract was announced, but it came too late for the Brewers to avoid losing their second straight to L.A.

"I'd like to say I know what went wrong," Sheets (4-1) said after suffering his first loss this season. "I'd like to be able to fix something."

What went wrong?

"It was bad pitches," Sheets said. "Over, and over and over."

Braun's home run, his team-best 10th this season, came off reliever Jonathan Broxton in the eighth inning, but the Brewers never got anything going offensively against Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley (3-5), who worked into the eighth and won for the third time in four starts.

For a few innings, both pitchers were on cruise control. Sheets didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning and blanked the Dodgers through the sixth, while Billingsley took his no-hitter into the fifth and did not allow a run until J.J. Hardy grounded into a run-scoring double play after Billingsley had exited the game. Braun followed with his home run.

"I don't think our approach was great [against Billingsley]," Braun said. "We swung at some bad pitches, but he's also a good pitcher, so that's going to happen from time to time."

Billingsley was working on a no-hitter until Sheets, an .063 hitter entering the game, singled to center field with two outs in the fifth inning. That moved a runner into scoring position (Joe Dillon had reached on an error before Tony Gwynn, Jr. grounded into a fielder's choice) for Brewers catcher Jason Kendall, who grounded out to end the inning.

The Brewers had another chance against Billingsley in the sixth, when a couple of walks, one of them intentional, put runners at first and second base again with a chance to break a scoreless tie. Corey Hart flew out to center fielder Andruw Jones.

Jones then led off the seventh against Sheets and hit a 2-0 fastball for just his second home run this season and a 1-0 Dodgers lead. Jeff Kent followed two batters later with another solo shot on a curveball, his fourth of the season and the third of his career off Sheets. Russell Martin made it 3-0 with an RBI single and former Brewer Gary Bennett, a late addition to the Los Angeles lineup, capped the rally with a three-run home run. Bennett hit a curveball, just like Kent.

"It was huge," manager Joe Torre said of Bennett's home run, "based on the fact it opened up the game for us. Runs are like gold with Ben Sheets."

Sheets was not as complimentary after the game.

"I would say that's probably my worst inning ever, personally," Sheets said. "I don't know if it statistically is. But it wasn't a good inning."

Just like that, Sheets was out of the game before he recorded the second out of the inning. He was at 69 pitches entering the seventh, and 89 pitches when he left.

"It just kind of got away from him right there," Yost said. "He was really cruising. He was in complete control. It just kind of snowballed on him."

How does that happen?

"It has nothing to do with fatigue," Yost said. "He was very short on pitch count. I don't think he even knows what happened. It just got away from him."

Is Sheets, who missed one start this season because of a sore triceps, physically OK?

"Yes," an irritated Yost said. "He's physically OK."

Billingsley surrendered three hits in seven-plus innings and was replaced with two runners on base and no outs in the bottom of the eighth.

"He kept the ball down, made pitches all day," Yost said. "We didn't swing the bats good off him today. We just didn't. There's no excuse for it. We just didn't do anything offensively."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.