A night after scoring 17 runs off the Brewers in a game started by their ace Yovani Gallardo, the Dodgers were shut down by Braden Looper tonight, as the Brewers combined Looper's performance plus some early runs off Jason Schmidt to a 4-1 victory to close out the three-game series at Dodger Stadium. Looper, who had a 5.69 ERA during the last two months, pitched into the seventh inning, allowing only one run on four hits and two walks, picking up his 10th win of the season.
Jason Schmidt briefly looked like he would recapture the magic of last Friday, allowing just one run in the first three innings, but the fourth inning proved his undoing. After loading the bases with two outs, Schmidt hit Craig Counsell on his back foot with a curveball and his night was done, having given up nine baserunners in 3.2 innings. James McDonald relieved Schmidt, and was greeted rudely by a booming Ryan Braun double. That brought home two more runs to make the score 4-1, but Counsell was thrown out at the plate to end the inning (though replays showed he avoided the tag of Russell Martin).
McDonald went on to pitch two more scoreless innings, and lowered his ERA as a reliever this season to 2.08, in 26 innings.
As was the case two weeks ago tonight, left fielder Manny Ramirez didn't start, yet still captured the imagination of the crowd as he came in to pinch hit as the tying run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Ken Macha removed Looper, bringing in Todd Coffey to face Manny. However, this time the ball off Manny's bat didn't travel to Mannywood; it slowly bounced to second base and the threat was quelled.
During the broadcast of the game, Vin Scully told a wonderful story that I had never heard before, and one that was kind of cool. Today is the 55th anniversary of Tommy Lasorda's major league debut. He came in from the bullpen at Ebbets Field that 1954 day with the Dodgers trailing the Cardinals 8-2. The first base umpire in Brooklyn for Lasorda's first game was Lon Warneke, who pitched for 15 seasons with the Cubs and Cardinals in the National League. On September 27, 1936, Warneke was pitching for the Cubs, facing the Cardinals, when a 24-year old first baseman named Walter Alston made his major league debut. Alston, as legend has it, hit a ball with home run distance that drifted just foul, but ended up striking out in what would be his only plate appearance in the show. Baseball sometimes has an amazing way to link things together, such as one man tied to 43 years worth of Dodger managers.
Time to dust off those 3-day old scouting reports: the Braves come to town to start a four-game series starting tomorrow night. Randy Wolf faces Derek Lowe tomorrow, in a rematch of Saturday's 4-3 Atlanta win.
WP - Braden Looper (10-5): 6.2 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
LP - Jason Schmidt (2-2): 3.2 IP, 5 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts
Sv - Trevor Hoffman (25): 1 IP, 1 hit, 2 strikeouts