MILWAUKEE (AP) - Mike Fiers finished eight brilliant innings with a strikeout, pumping his arms as he walked off the mound to a standing ovation.
The right-hander’s first major league start in more than a year for the Milwaukee Brewers couldn’t have gone any better than the gem he threw in a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night.
Fiers (1-1) struck out five, while filling in for injured Matt Garza, and Khris Davis and Carlos Gomez homered to give Milwaukee a second straight win in the three-game series between NL divisional leaders.
This outing might mean even more to Fiers, whose 2013 season ended in June in the minors when a line drive broke his right forearm.
“It’s unbelievable,” Fiers said about coming off the mound in the eighth to rousing applause. “It’s what you dream of as a kid, especially those situations - close game, eighth inning trying to get to the best closer in the league.”
Francisco Rodriguez provided some ninth-inning drama after allowing the tying run to come to the plate with two outs, but he got Matt Kemp to ground out for his 35th save. The Dodgers mustered only a solo homer by Adrian Gonzalez, his 17th of the season, into the second deck in right field.
“He had a rough year last year,” manager Ron Roeneicke said about Fiers. “It’s always nice when a guy goes through quite a bit of adversity but bounces back, gets up here and has a game like that.”
Fiers outdueled former Brewers pitcher Zack Greinke (12-8), who gave up Gomez’s homer off the left-field foul pole that made it 3-1 leading off the sixth.
The right-handed Fiers caught the Dodgers chasing 90-mph fastballs high and away early in the game for strikeouts. Besides Gonzalez’s homer in the fourth, the only other hits allowed by Fiers were singles by Dee Gordon and Kemp.
In his previous start for Milwaukee, Fiers gave up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings on June 2, 2013, against the Phillies. He broke his arm nearly two weeks later in Triple-A.
Fiers made 22 starts in the majors in 2012, including a victory over the Dodgers in Los Angeles in winning his first big league start. After a tough 2013, Fiers was 8-5 with a 2.55 ERA in 17 starts in Nashville, and made four relief appearances this June with the Brewers.
“It wasn’t like he’s a total mystery,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He didn’t seem too afraid of us.”
Fiers induced 12 groundball outs Saturday and had the Dodgers walking back to the dugout in frustration. Los Angeles shortstop Miguel Rojas slammed his bat into the ground after a called third strike in the third.
GETTING TO GREINKE
The right-handed Greinke pitched for the Brewers in 2011 and part of 2012 before going to the Angels in a deal that sent shortstop Jean Segura to Milwaukee. Now with the Dodgers, Greinke took his second straight loss at Miller Park after winning his first 15 decisions there.