The Milwaukee Brewers' slow start cost manager Ron Roenicke his job. Jump-starting things under a new skipper may not be easy against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday as Clayton Kershaw tries to extend his dominance at Miller Park and end his early woes.
Despite winning back-to-back games for the first time this year after Sunday's 5-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs, the Brewers (7-18) fired Roenicke, who led them to the 2011 NL Central title in his first season.
He had a winning record in three of his four full seasons in Milwaukee, but the team's fade after entering last July with a 6 1/2-game lead atop the division and early season struggles proved too much to ignore.
"This has been a difficult start to the season, something that we certainly didn't anticipate," general manager Doug Melvin said in a statement.
Prior to Monday's game, the Brewers named former major league infielder Craig Counsell as Roenicke's replacement. Counsell, a 44-year-old Milwaukee-area native and two-time World Series champion, spent the final five seasons of his 16-year career with Milwaukee and became a special assistant to Melvin in 2012.
"I am grateful and honored to have the opportunity to manage the team that I rooted for, played for and worked for in the front office," Counsell said in a statement. "I understand the work ahead to be the team our fans deserve. We have challenges ahead of us and I look forward to working tirelessly to achieve our goals."
Kershaw (1-2, 3.73 ERA), the two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP winner, may not give the Brewers a chance to make any progress as he looks to find his groove. His ERA through five starts is his highest since a 5.46 in 2009.
His first of four straight ERA titles started when he won his first Cy Young in 2011, and he put together the best campaign of his career in 2014 while going 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA for his third CY Young.
The left-hander hasn't been as dominant this season, though. After pitching fewer than seven innings in five of his 27 starts last year, Kershaw failed to reach the seven-inning mark in his first four outings. He allowed two runs and struck out eight in seven innings of a 2-1 loss to San Francisco on Tuesday.
"I had a little better command of everything," said Kershaw, who's one win shy of 100. "The slider is just a little bit better, but not where I want it. Some good, some bad."
Kershaw has been very good in his career at Miller Park, winning all four starts while posting a 0.87 ERA. He's opposed Kyle Lohse three times in his career, with Lohse taking the loss each time.
Lohse (1-4, 7.28) is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in his last three starts against the Dodgers (16-8), a stretch that includes a 2-0 loss to Kershaw on April 28, 2013, when they last faced each other.
Lohse, though, has allowed at least four runs in four of his five starts this season. The right-hander gave up four on three homers over seven innings of Tuesday's 4-2 loss to Cincinnati.
Jean Segura's status is unclear after he was hit on the helmet with a pitch in the eighth. The Brewers shortstop tried to remain in the game but was feeling nauseous.
Aramis Ramirez is 8 for 16 with two homers while hitting safely in his last five games.
The Dodgers scored 21 runs while winning their previous three before Yasmani Grandal's homer leading off the 13th gave them a 1-0 win over Arizona on Sunday. The catcher also threw out a runner at the plate after a wild pitch to end the top of the 13th, helping the bullpen extend its scoreless-inning streak to 26.
''After the second game of the season, there were a lot of people who said the bullpen wasn't good enough, Grandal said. "That bothered me a lot. Lately it's been lights-out.''
Los Angeles, which is beginning a seven-game road trip, has won five of its last six against the Brewers.