MILWAUKEE -- Fill-in starter Mike Burns looked tired and shaky, giving up long back-to-back home runs that cut a four-run lead to one when Manny Ramirez dug in at the plate.
"It is dangerous," Burns said. "You're looking at one pitch from a tie ballgame."
Instead, Ramirez popped out Burns' final pitch to end the fifth, and Trevor Hoffman and the bullpen held on after squandering one-run leads in each of the previous two nights as the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-3 on Saturday.
Hoffman pitched a perfect ninth to cap four scoreless innings, and J.J. Hardy hit a two-out, two-run double in the eighth for breathing room.
"To the team and fan base when the bullpen falters a little bit, it can be a bit of a shock," said Seth McClung, who allowed the only two hits by the group over two innings. "We're the same guys that got our butts kicked yesterday, but we're also the same guys that have been consistently good all year."
Burns (2-2) struck out a career-high seven and drove in a run to win for the second time in his career while in the rotation for the injured Dave Bush (triceps). But he needed the help of McClung, Todd Coffey and Hoffman, who blew a save chance for just the second time this season the night before in a 12-8 extra innings loss.
Frank Catalanotto homered for the Brewers, losers of seven of 10 and two games behind St. Louis in the NL Central.
"We haven't had much luck lately, and we haven't played that well either," said Catalanotto, who hit his first homer since April 22, 2008. "Especially after last night's loss, it was big to come back and win this one today."
Rafael Furcal and Andre Ethier hit back-to-back shots for the Dodgers (55-32), who are 5-3 on their nine-game trip and will have the best mark in the majors at the All-Star break regardless of what happens Sunday.
"We put pressure on them when we got close, but that's as close as we got," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.
On Saturday night, Coffey struck out the side in the eighth with Milwaukee leading 4-3 and Hardy came through in the bottom of the inning.
Hardy's double off Guillermo Mota drove in Prince Fielder, who went 2 for 3 and had an RBI single in the first, and Mike Cameron to provide room for Hoffman. The career saves leader had a 1-2-3 ninth to notch his 20th this year and 574th of his career.
"When the lead was cut to one, every pitch is important then," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "That's why that double for J.J. in the bottom of the eighth was big."
The RBI single by Burns proved to be the one Milwaukee needed most after Dodgers starter Jeff Weaver (5-3) allowed four straight hits to start the fourth.
With Milwaukee leading 2-0, Catalanotto led off with a homer to right field. Hardy tripled and scored when Burns singled to make it 4-0. Burns was thrown out by Ramirez trying to stretch the single into a double.
"I played with Manny in Boston and sometimes he'll want to go after a ball and cut it off and sometimes he'll take it easy, despite me being terribly slow, he got to that ball pretty quick and made a great play," Burns said.
An error by Furcal at short cost Weaver two unearned runs in the first. Craig Counsell tripled, but was caught between third and home after Ryan Braun's sharply hit grounder. Furcal's throw to the plate went through the legs of Russell Martin, allowing Counsell to score and Braun to take second. Fielder made it 2-0 with his single.
"It was a tough play. It was a little low, the throw," Furcal said. "I tried to make it happen and it didn't work."
Los Angeles answered in the fifth.
After Matt Kemp singled, Furcal homered with two outs and Ethier hit his second homer in as many nights to make it 4-3, but Burns got out of the inning by forcing Ramirez to pop up.
Ramirez went 1 for 4 to extend his hitting streak to five games a night after tying Yankees great Mickey Mantle on the career home run list at 536. He is 8 of 26 with three homers, nine RBI and six runs in eight games since returning from his 50-game drug suspension.
For every homer Fielder hits in the home run derby on Monday, the Brewers will knock a $1 off the $28 ticket price for Loge Outfield seats between Aug. 11-13 against San Diego. If Fielder hits 28, the tickets will be free. ... The Dodgers will likely use LHP Randy Wolf on Thursday and RHP Chad Billingsley on Friday against Houston after the break. Milwaukee plans to use RHP Braden Looper on Thursday and RHP Jeff Suppan on Friday at Cincinnati. Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton (toe) likely will have to skip his first All-Star game on Tuesday because of his injury.