Rafael Furcal being sore after a game usually isn't news, as the injury-prone shortstop has missed nearly as many games since the start of the 2008 season (275) than he has played (311), but tonight was different. It was a good kind of sore for Furcal, as he ran the Matt Kemp celebration gauntlet after driving in the winning run with a double to left center field, giving the Dodgers a comeback 7-6 win over the Nationals at Dodger Stadium.
The game was a long time coming for Furcal, who has had two long stints on the disabled list this season. In the three weeks since his return, Furcal had just five singles in 49 at-bats coming into tonight's game. However, he opened the bottom of the first inning with a line drive single and later scored on a Matt Kemp sacrifice fly. Furcal reached base four times on the night with two hits, a walk, and a hit by pitch, and also made two stellar plays and throws on balls hit up the middle.
Ted Lilly didn't allow any home runs and struck out six, but still managed to turn in a stinker. He was hit hard from the start, and allowed eight hits in his five innings. Washington managed three run-scoring doubles off Lilly: Michael Morse and Jayson Werth combined to drive in three runs in the first inning, and Rick Ankiel plated two more with a two-bagger in the third inning. Lilly did manage to last five innings, which was two frames longer than his mound opponent, Tom Gorzelanny.
The Dodgers trailed 6-2 after two and a half innings tonight, and it looked like another defeat was imminent. But the Dodgers clawed back, in unorthodox fashion. A Kemp double, a Juan Rivera single, and James Loney sacrifice fly brought home one run, then later in the inning Dioner Navarro was walked intentionally to bring up Ted Lilly with the bases loaded. Lilly, who had three hits in 56 at-bats as a Dodger entering tonight, roped a line drive double to right center field to drive in two runs, pulling the Dodgers to within a run at 6-5.
The Dodgers tied the game in the bottom of the seventh with a seemingly typical 2011 Dodger rally. After Navarro walked, pinch runner Eugenio Velez stole second base, then advanced to third base on a ground ball. Then, Henry Rodriguez uncorked a wild pitch that went to the backstop, allowing Velez to score the tying run. It was the first stolen base and run scored as a Dodger for Velez, who has been with the team since July 4.
- The RBI double by Furcal was the second walk-off hit of his career, and his first as a Dodger. His other walk-off came with the Braves on July 5, 2003, when a bases-loaded walk beat this same franchise, only then they were the Expos.
- Lilly also was awarded an RBI in the second inning on a sacrifice bunt, though Loney would likely have been out at the plate had catcher Wilson Ramos not bobbled the throw. Lilly had three runs batted in on the night, a new career high.
- Lilly, Blake Hawksworth, Mike MacDougal, and Javy Guerra combined to retire 19 of the final 21 batters of the game, including the final 11 in a row.
- Before tonight's game, the Dodgers paid tribute to Don Drysdale, who would have turned 75 today. In addition to having Drysdale's sons throw out ceremonial first pitches, the Dodgers ran this spectacular video tribute. It's chock full of interviews (Rick Monday getting choked up talking about Drysdale was a poignant moment) and various clips, including Drysdale's oft-forgotten radio call of Kirk Gibson's home run in the 1988 World Series. It's a must see 3 minutes and 51 seconds.
- During tonight's broadcast on Prime Ticket, Vin Scully quoted Harry Doyle (Bob Uecker's character from Major League) when he described Rodriguez throwing "Juuuuust a bit outside." The best sportscaster quoting the greatest sports movie -- my life is now complete.
- Chad Billingsley and Jason Marquis face off in Sunday afternoon's series finale.
WP -(2-0): 1 IP, 1 strikeout
LP - Ryan Mattheus (2-2): 1 1/3 IP, 4 hits, 1 run