MILWAUKEE -- The Dodgers showed up for work Tuesday night looking to extend the franchise's best start since 1981, but not a Padre or Pirate was in sight.
Instead, for the first time this year, Los Angeles met a playoff team from last year. And for all the battling back the Dodgers could muster -- including a go-ahead homer by Andre Ethier in the eighth -- it didn't stop the Milwaukee Brewers from battling back as well and pulling out a 5-4 walk-off win. The final blow came on pinch-hitter George Kottaras' two-run double off Dodgers closer Javy Guerra with one out in the bottom of the ninth.
So instead of matching the best start since the 1955 Dodgers, the 2012 Dodgers saw their win streak snapped at six. Instead of his sixth consecutive save, Guerra suffered his first blown save of the year.
Corey Hart led off the ninth for Milwaukee with a single to left. Carlos Gomez, running for Hart, stole second despite four Guerra pick-off attempts. Seemingly distracted by the steal, Guerra walked Mat Gamel on a 3-2 fastball.
"I tried to do a little too much with Gamel, especially on the last pitch," Guerra said. "I lost focus on what I needed to do well. That was a no-no, and it came back to bite us."
Jonathan Lucroy, after fouling off two bunts, struck out. Kottaras, batting for former Dodger Cesar Izturis, doubled a 2-2 slider to the right-center gap.
"It was the right thought process, but I caught too much of the plate," Guerra said. "Give him credit, he did a good job. I've got to execute better.
"It's tough, not just from my standpoint, but we battled back. That's a game we have to win. That was my bad."
The relay from Ethier to Mark Ellis to A.J. Ellis was a tad too late to get Gamel on A.J.'s sweep tag.
"When they told me to slide, I knew it was going to be close," Gamel said. "I figured I could get around him, just where he was on the plate. I was going for it, and luckily it happened. That was fun, man. That was one of the most fun games I've ever been a part of."
The Dodgers -- who went 9-1 against San Diego and Pittsburgh to begin the campaign -- thought they were about to beat Milwaukee reliever Francisco Rodriguez on Ethier's two-run homer with two outs in the eighth. Rodriguez allowed a one-out single to Mark Ellis two batters before Ethier launched his fourth home run of the season to left-center. Ethier has a Major League-leading 17 RBIs, and has driven in at least one run in nine of his last 10 games.
The Brewers had just taken the lead in the seventh inning. Gamel, who homered earlier off starter Chad Billingsley, led off with a single against Matt Guerrier, stole second with one out, went to third on a single by Izturis and scored on a suicide squeeze bunt by Norichika Aoki two pitches after he fouled off a safety squeeze attempt.
"That's a tough spot, it's tough to defend," manager Don Mattingly said. "Lots of teams are doing that now. The only way to defend is to pitch out, and you can't pitch out every pitch. You try to do what you can, but at some point you have to execute."
The Brewers took good swings off Billingsley in the second inning. Gamel launched a one-out home run to right-center -- his first in the big leagues since 2009 -- and Lucroy followed with a long drive that center fielder Matt Kemp caught up to, only to mistime his leap at the warning track where the fence juts at an angle, the ball bouncing out of his glove for a triple.
With the infield up, Izturis punched a single through the middle to score Lucroy for the second run.
The Dodgers got a gift run in the fifth after a leadoff double (the Dodgers had five of them) by Juan Rivera and a James Loney single that sent Rivera to third. Juan Uribe popped up to shallow right field, where second baseman Rickie Weeks called off right fielder Hart and caught the ball, then dropped it on the exchange for an error as Rivera scored.
Loney then was caught trying to steal second base.
"We're not quite sure what that was," Mattingly said, his way of implying Loney was running on his own and probably won't be again. "They're pretty much on their own, but they're not going to go unless they make it there. We trust until they show they can't be trusted. It was [1.5 seconds, pitcher to catcher to second base], and he was out by 10 feet. James overestimated his speed a tad."
The Dodgers also missed out on a potential first-inning run when Dee Gordon, who singled, was picked off first base by Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo. Kemp's two-out double thus went for naught.
Ethier, who led off the seventh inning with a high double that fell just inside the right-field foul line, was doubled home by Loney to tie the game at 2-2. Billingsley left for a pinch-hitter with a no-decision, going six innings and retiring the last 11 batters he faced.
"I settled down after the second inning," said Billingsley. "Gallardo was throwing the ball well, too, and I had to match him with zeroes."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.