MILWAUKEE -- The Los Angeles Dodgers played with Manny and without him, and still finished the first half of the season with the best record in baseball.
So what's Joe Torre's grade of his group at the All-Star break?
"Incomplete," the manager said. "That's the only thing I can give it at this point because the back half, just like in golf the back nine, is the toughest one to play. We're going to have to go out there and continue to live up to ourselves."
All-Star Orlando Hudson homered twice, Clayton Kershaw won his fifth consecutive road start and Los Angeles capped the best first half in the majors with a 7-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.
Manny Ramirez went 3 for 3 and scored twice to continue his torrid pace since returning from a 50-game drug suspension, helping the Dodgers finish a 6-3 road trip for their best start in 32 years at 56-32.
"Now we're coming into the second half and I think the second half is a tough one," Ramirez said. "We hope everything goes well and the main goal is to go to the World Series."
The Dodgers have history on their side.
The 1977 Dodgers were 57-31 after 88 games and 59-33 at the All-Star break in Tommy Lasorda's first full season as manager, eventually losing the World Series to the New York Yankees in six games.
These Dodgers led by Torre seem poised to make a similar run with Kershaw improving to 4-0 with a microscopic 0.76 ERA in his last six starts and Ramirez picking up where he left off.
"The main thing I'm worried about is my legs and I'm getting there day by day, so we've still got three more months to go and I'm going to get there," the slugger said.
Ramirez doubled in the first, singled in the third, walked in the fifth and doubled in the seventh. He's 11 for 29 with three homers, nine RBI and eight runs in nine games since returning from the ban.
"He just seems to be locked in," Torre said.
"One thing you always a have a concern when you're heading toward the All-Star break is you sort of take it before it gets here, this ballclub didn't do that," Torre said. "If we win series, we can't get hurt."
Hudson, who had been in a 3-for-41 slump, homered in the sixth and eighth. The Dodgers continued their power surge, belting 10 homers in the three-game series after hitting seven in the previous eight games.
"It was nice, but the main thing was we got a big W to end the first half, another series win and we'll start it back again on Thursday," Hudson said.
Staked to a 2-0 lead before he took the mound, Kershaw (7-5) gave up one run and two hits over six-plus innings. He struck out four and walked five, increasing his major league-high total to 59.
"I had some dumb walks," Kershaw said. "If you're going to walk them, you better not let them score. You've got to bear down with people on base. I got bailed out a little bit today."
The Brewers, who've tumbled out of the NL Central lead by losing eight of 11, scored twice in the seventh and eighth, but Hudson homered in the eighth and Ramon Troncoso got three outs to earn his fifth save in six chances in place of Jonathan Broxton (toe).
Yovani Gallardo (8-7) lost his third straight start, allowing five runs and six hits in five innings.
"Something mechanically is a little off, so I tried to battle through it, but it's a good hitting team," Gallardo said. "Mistakes that I left up in the zone, they put the bat on it."
- Kershaw ran his scoreless innings streak to 17 before it ended in the seventh when Mike Cameron scored on Bill Hall's double off reliever Hiroki Kuroda.
- It was Hudson's fourth career multihomer game and first since July 31, 2006.
- Brewers manager Ken Macha presented Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and Trevor Hoffman with All-Star jerseys before the game. Since Hoffman was named on Sunday morning as a replacement for Broxton, he got a Braun No. 8 jersey, too.
- Brewers SS J.J. Hardy (shoulder) missed the game.