A ninth-inning grand slam by Jerry Hairston off Matt Guerrier blew open a close game, sending the Dodgers to a 7-2 loss to the Nationals in the opener of a nine-game homestand. Washington parlayed two hits and two walks off three different relief pitchers in the ninth inning into four runs.
Hiroki Kuroda began the first inning with a pair of long outs, as the left-handed batting Roger Bernadina and Danny Espinosa both hit deep flies to the opposite field, but both were caught on the warning track by Tony Gwynn. Then, after Ryan Zimmerman singled and stole second base, Michael Morse ripped a double past the slow-reacting Juan Uribe at third base to drive home the game's first run.
In the second inning, Kuroda got the first two batters out, this time a little less loudly then the opening frame. However, after a two-out single, Nationals' pitcher John Lannan hit a slider over the wall in right field for his first major league home run. It was the 224th career plate appearance for Lannan, who entered tonight with two hits in 35 at-bats and a career batting line of .092/.149/.113.
For good measure, Lannan added a single in the seventh inning past a drawn-in Juan Uribe, to match his season hit total tonight. As Vin Scully mentioned on the Prime Ticket broadcast, Lannan was 0-for-32 this season before his last start. He picked up two knocks in three at-bats in Atlanta, then two more safeties tonight.
After the Lannan home run, Kuroda did settle down, pitching into the seventh and retiring eight in a row at one point. Kuroda threw 115 pitches in the game tonight, his second highest total this season, trailing only the 117 he threw in San Diego on April 9 when he came within one out of a complete game shutout.
The big news in baseball tonight was outfielder Desmond Jennings getting recalled by Tampa Bay, but at Dodger Stadium another Desmond made an impact. Washington shortstop Ian Desmond had a fourth inning to regret. After Matt Kemp walked and Juan Rivera doubled to open the inning to put runners at second and third, Juan Uribe grounded a ball to Desmond for what looked like an easy out. However, Desmond did not get his glove down and the ball scooted by him into the outfield grass for an error, and two runs. Desmond made another error on a potential double play ball by Jamey Carroll, but the Dodgers failed to capitalize.
The Dodgers threatened in the bottom of the seventh inning, when Aaron Miles chased Lannan with a one-out rocket double off the wall in left field, maybe a few feet short of a home run. Miles advanced to third base on a ground out to shortstop by Gwynn, but was left stranded when Rafael Furcal struck out looking to end the stanza.
The Dodgers were retired in order in the eighth and ninth innings to close out the game.
In between the second and third innings, Dodger Stadium organist Nancy Bea Hefley played Jubilation T. Cornpone, which got a smile out of Vin Scully, who informed viewers and listeners of the song before the top of the third. With the Dodgers mired in a miserable season, some of the lyrics from the Lil' Anber tune seem awfully apt:
When we almost had 'em but the issue still was in doubt,
Who suggested the retreat that turned it into a rout?
Why it was Jubilation T. Cornpone;
Old "Tattered and torn - pone."
Jubilation T. Cornpone, he kept us hidin' out!
With our ammunition gone and faced with utter defeat,
Who was it that burned the crops and left us nothing to eat?
Why it was Jubilation T. Cornpone;
Old "September Morn - pone."
Jubilation T. Cornpone, the pants blown off his seat!
A Long Time Coming
Brandon Lennox will have more details on the Isotopes' game in his daily minor league report, but tonight in Albuquerque, catcher A.J. Ellis hit his first home run in nearly three years. His fourth inning blast off Chris Sampson was the first home run in Ellis in 1,060 days, spanning 806 total plate appearances (197 with the Dodgers, 609 in the minors). His last home run came on August 26, 2008 in Las Vegas against Brad Hennessey. You may remember this from spring training, on March 24, Ellis hit a walk-off home run at Camelback Ranch to beat the Rockies 7-5, in a game the Dodgers trailed 5-0 entering their last ups.
- Since June 13, the Dodgers have eight shutouts in 32 games. However, they are just 4-20 when they have allowed the opponent to score during that span.
- Scott Elbert induced a foul pop from Jerry Hairston in the seventh inning, the only batter Elbert faced in the game. The southpaw has retired the last 13 batters he has faced, dating back to July 6.
- Kenley Jansen struck out all four batters he faced tonight, Washington's two through five hitters, and has struck out five consecutive foes, dating back to Tuesday in San Francisco.
- Kuroda's 3.19 ERA translates roughly to a 113 ERA+ this season. At 6-12, Kuroda's .333 winning percentage is tied for the lowest ever by an LA Dodger with 100 innings and an ERA+ of 100 or higher. Kuroda joins Tom Candiotti (1995), Burt Hooton (1984), Jerry Reuss (1979), and Charlie Hough (1977) in the .333 club.
- Guerrier has struck out five of the last 65 batters he faced, dating back to June 3, a span of 15 1/3 innings. He has allowed 10 runs and three home runs during that span.
- Rod Barajas, who was 0-for-3 with a walk tonight, has no hits in his last 23 at-bats, dating back to June 12 (though he does have two walks and a hit-by-pitch during that span).
- Before tonight, the last game managed by Davey Johnson at Dodger Stadium was September 28, 2000. Barry Bonds hit a two-run home run off Terry Adams in the seventh inning to give the Giants a 4-3 lead, and Felipe Crespo hit a solo shot off Mike Fetters in the eight to give visiting San Francisco a 5-3 win.
- Saturday night features a battle of former Cubs lefties, as Ted Lilly starts against Tom Gorzelanny.
WP - John Lannan (7-6): 6 1/3 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 4 walks, 6 strikeouts
LP - Hiroki Kuroda (6-12): 6 1/3 IP, 7 hits, 3 runs, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts