LOS ANGELES -- Jim Henderson is getting the job done as the Brewers' closer, but has been forced to work a bit harder than he would like.
Henderson converted each of his first six save opportunities after taking over for John Axford and entered Sunday with an 0.82 ERA. That's very good. What's not so good, manager Ron Roenicke noted, are Henderson's pitch counts, which have topped 20 in three of his saves, including a 30-pitch effort against the Cubs on April 8.
Saturday's save against the Dodgers required 23 pitches, though five were thrown after third baseman Yuniesky Betancourt's error on what could have been a game-ending groundout. Henderson was more upset about the seven pitches he threw five batters earlier, when he walked Nick Punto with the dangerous Adrian Gonzalez on deck.
"That can't happen," Henderson said. "I have to improve those areas. I have to get the guys I need to get out, go after them. That was my goal when I talked to you guys earlier, to not beat myself. I have to work on that."
It's mostly a matter of mechanics, Henderson said.
"With my delivery and how funky it is, it's all about timing," he said. "If one little thing is off in my delivery, it causes it to go up and away to the lefty. I have to make sure that arm is in the right position and everything."
He added, "I thought about it last night, and the positive of it is that I'm not as sharp as I [can be], but I'm getting the job done."
He is also enjoying the role, though Henderson has been clear that he would like to see Axford win it back at some point. Their relationship is similar to the one Axford had with Trevor Hoffman in 2010, when Axford took over amid Hoffman's early-season struggles and essentially never let the job go.
When the Brewers visited San Diego last week, the trio went to lunch together.
"Ax told me, 'Hey, we're going to lunch if you want to go.' Any human being in the world is not going to pass that up," Henderson said. "Trevor said to Ax, 'Now you know how it feels.' It was a good compliment to me, and it was probably good that we could joke about it."
Gonzalez troubled by both legs after hamstring strain
LOS ANGELES -- Brewers infielder Alex Gonzalez was already playing with one leg at less than 100 percent, and now he has an issue with the other. The veteran sat out Sunday's series finale at Dodger Stadium after tweaking his left hamstring the night before.
Gonzalez is off to a tough start at the plate, and has been clearly slowed on the bases and in the field by his surgically-repaired right knee, but has been a vital part of the infield rotation because the Brewers are playing without injured first baseman Corey Hart and third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
"Nobody feels 100 percent," Gonzalez said. "But I feel like I can come to the field and do a lot of things. I'm still working to get strong."
He is nearly a full year removed from the injury that ended his debut season with the Brewers, a torn right ACL suffered May 5 at San Francisco. He conceded that leg is still giving him some trouble.
"I have to get the quad stronger to get my knee stable," he said. "That muscle is important because you have to support your knee. That's why I come to the ballpark every day and do my exercises, to get it stronger. It's taking some time, though. It's very tough to get back the muscle you lost after surgery."
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was able to give Gonzalez a break on Sunday because shortstop Jean Segura was back in the starting lineup. Segura's nail separated from the index finger on his throwing hand while fielding grounders Saturday afternoon, but he was able to return to action for the series finale after getting treatment.
Peralta's growing confidence translates to results
LOS ANGELES -- If right-hander Wily Peralta stays hot, you'll see the Brewers wearing a lot of gold this summer.
The starting pitcher gets to chose from the Brewers' wardrobe of game jerseys, and in each of his past two starts, Peralta has picked the gold alternates, a new addition for this season. After he pitched six innings and picked up a win against the Dodgers on Saturday night, Peralta said he would go gold again Thursday against the Cardinals.
"Why not?" he asked.
Manager Ron Roenicke doesn't care what color Peralta wears, as long as he keeps pitching. It was only three starts ago that Roenicke referred to Peralta as "out of whack" and spoke with some urgency about figuring out a fix.
Peralta responded with back-to-back quality starts against the Cubs and Dodgers in which he scattered 11 hits, nine of them singles, and most of them softly-struck. On Saturday, he maintained his 96-mph fastball from the first inning through the end of the sixth.
"[Pitching coach Rick Kranitz] worked on some things with him. I think some of it is mechanical, but most of it is the confidence of knowing how to use the stuff you have," Roenicke said. "Wily is being successful, having some good outings, getting that confidence that he needs.
"He's not an overly cocky guy, and those cocky guys, they get it going quicker. They think they belong here, they think they're superstars, and they play that way. [Peralta] is modest, and those guys take longer. They take having success before they have that confidence."
• Corey Hart joined the team Sunday in Los Angeles and took its charter flight home to continue his rehab from right knee surgery. He is not eligible for reinstatement from the 60-day disabled list until the end of May and had been rehabbing at the team's year-round facility in Phoenix, but preferred a change of scenery.
"He feels more part of the team, and we all like having him around," Roenicke said.