LOS ANGELES — What a difference a couple of weeks make.
At the end of July, it was almost time to press the panic button for the Dodgers’ rotation. The starting staff, which has typically been a strength for the Dodgers over this last decade of dominance, finished July with a 6.18 ERA, the worst mark in a month with at least 15 games since the club moved to Los Angeles over six decades ago.
Through 16 games in August, however, it’s been a completely different story. Behind Lance Lynn’s seven scoreless innings, the Dodgers’ dominance this month continued on Thursday with a 1-0 win over the Brewers at Dodger Stadium, extending their winning streak to a season-high 11 games. Los Angeles also improved to 15-1 in August.
“I think this is kind of what we imagined at the beginning of the season with what our staff is and what it has been since I’ve been here,” said Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes. “Lance fills up hitters during the game. He’s been doing it for a long time.”
On Thursday, Lynn was in command most of the night. The biggest threat against him came in the sixth when the Brewers had runners at the corners with nobody out for the middle of the order. Lynn, however, showed his veteran ability to not panic in those situations.
Lynn got William Contreras to hit a comebacker, allowing him to get Tyrone Taylor caught in a rundown between third and home plate for the first out of the inning. He got Carlos Santana to line out to Freddie Freeman, who was positioned perfectly down the first-base line. Lynn then induced a Sal Frelick popout to shortstop to end the threat.
“I think it’s just better results, better luck. Great defense behind me,” Lynn said. “It’s been fun out here, especially pitching in front of the home crowd. Three of my four starts have been here. I’ve always enjoyed pitching in this ballpark, and it’s definitely a lot better as a home player.”
After his seven-inning gem, Lynn has enjoyed a resurgence since joining the Dodgers from the White Sox. The veteran right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.44 ERA in four starts and over 25 innings of work.
“I guess the energy on [the Dodgers] is making him be better than what he was doing last year and the beginning of this year,” said Brewers shortstop Willy Adames. “He was just mixing pitches really good today and using all of his stuff. He was tough to hit today.”
Offensively, the Dodgers were held quiet most of the night against former National League Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes. The Dodgers, who were without J.D. Martinez — a late scratch with a recurring groin injury — didn’t score in seven innings against Burnes.
But in the eighth, they got the timely hitting they were looking for. Barnes, who has been struggling at the plate all season, hit a solo homer off Joel Payamps, his first of the season.
“It’s been a grind this year,” Barnes said. “A lot of [freaking] bad nights. It’s been a grind, but I’ve been feeling better lately and I’m just going to keep going.”
With the way the Dodgers have pitched lately, Barnes’ homer was enough to complete the sweep. During the three-game series against the Brewers, which resulted in the team’s third consecutive sweep, the Dodgers’ starters clearly led the way.
The starting rotation allowed just two runs over 18 innings of work. In total, L.A.’s pitching staff limited the Brewers’ offense to three runs during the three-game set. Over their last eight games, the Dodgers have held their opponents to two or fewer runs seven times.
“I think you have to give credit to what Bobby [Miller] has done, and then you get Julio [Urías] pitching like Julio and you get Clayton [Kershaw] back and then you get Lance inserted and revived,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “Our rotation has certainly been stabilized. … It’s nice to win a game when you can just prevent runs.”