LOS ANGELES — There was a time when, much like his team, many may have wondered if right-hander Zach Davies would really get it together.
Now, both Davies and his Milwaukee Brewers are starting to roll at the most important time of the season.
That was never clearer than Saturday night when Davies pitched seven dominant innings for his second scoreless start against the Los Angeles Dodgers this year in Milwaukee’s 3-0 victory.
Orlando Arcia hit a two-run homer and Davies (15-7) held the Dodgers to three hits. He struck out seven without a walk.
“That’s a big-time performance,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “It’s certainly a game we needed, and to come out against a team of this caliber and do that, and go through their lineup, really impressive.”
The Dodgers easily have baseball’s best record (91-37) and are running away with the NL West, but the Brewers are making a run at the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central.
After a six-game losing streak this month, Milwaukee has won eight of 12 and trails the Cubs by three games.
“It is good to come in here after a tough loss yesterday and switch the roles and give them a tough loss — and go in there tomorrow with another mentality,” Davies said.
Davies, just 6 feet tall and 155 pounds, pitched unevenly throughout much of the season (5.08 ERA in his first 19 games), but has put together a 1.66 ERA in his last eight starts.
“There’s not a big change that he’s made. I think he’s executing his pitches better,” Counsell said. “It’s four pitches working together with each other and that’s what makes him so effective.”
The Dodgers were rolling toward September but have been shut out twice in their last four games.
“I think the story of the night is, Davies was good,” manager Dave Roberts said. “The cutter, he kept the ball down, changed speeds on us, and we really couldn’t figure it out tonight. You’re going to have those nights.”
Anthony Swarzak worked the eighth and Corey Knebel pitched the ninth for his 28th save. It was Milwaukee’s eighth shutout of the season.
Injuries prompted the Dodgers to go without a traditional starter. Ross Stripling started and went three innings, and the Dodgers used six different relief pitchers.
“You knew it was going to be a weird day,” Stripling said. “I feel like we were happy with how it went. We kept them at three.”
Josh Ravin (0-1) gave up the two-run homer to Arcia in the fifth. Milwaukee added on a run against Luis Avilan on Neil Walker’s RBI double in the eighth.
In just his second full season in the majors, the 24-year-old Davies — drafted in the 26th round by Baltimore in 2011 — has already won 15 games.
“It’s a fun accomplishment,” he said. “I think almost everyone in this room is really trying to make the playoffs — that’s the end goal. It’s nice for myself, but I had a lot of help to get there.”
Yasiel Puig sprinted some 50 yards and crashed into the low wall near the right-field foul pole in the sixth to steal a home run from Domingo Santana.
“He just went a long ways and you’re dealing with the wall,” Counsell said. “I think having some experience helped him, but that was a nice play.”
Brewers: Counsell said C Andrew Susac (right trapezius) is expected to go out on a rehab assignment early next week. … Counsell said C Jett Bandy (broken rib) is expected back this season but not when rosters expand on Sept. 1.
Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (lower back strain) threw five innings in his first rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City. He allowed one run and two hits, did not walk a batter and struck out eight. … 1B-LF Cody Bellinger (ankle) completed a full workout without issue and is expected to be activated from the disabled list when eligible Wednesday.
Brewers: RHP Jimmy Nelson (9-6, 3.79 ERA) is 0-2 lifetime in four starts against the Dodgers but with a 1.33 ERA.
Dodgers: RHP Yu Darvish (8-9, 3.83) is scheduled to come off the disabled list (lower back stiffness) and make his fourth start for the Dodgers. He is 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA in his three previous starts for Los Angeles.
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