Sunday night's hero.
Given the green light on a 3-0 pitch with two outs and two runners on base in the seventh inning in his 10th major league plate appearance, Scott Van Slyke deposited a pitch from Marc Rzepczynski into the left field pavilion. Van Slyke's first major league home run gave the Dodgers a 6-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, his father Andy's first team, Sunday night at Dodger Stadium.
It was the fourth straight win for the Dodgers, who have beaten the Cardinals seven straight times dating back to last year. The Dodgers are an absurd 19-4 at home this season, and own the best record in baseball at 28-13. They have a seven-game lead over San Francisco in the National League West, the largest divisional lead in baseball.
Van Slyke's home run made a winner out of Javy Guerra, who retired the heart of the Cardinals' order - Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, and David Freese - in succession in the top of the seventh. Guerra, Josh Lindblom, and Kenley Jansen retired the final nine Cardinals in order to close out the game.
Chad Billingsley was living dangerously in the first two innings, but successfully walked the tightrope to escape a pair of bases loaded situations. In the first inning, St. Louis loaded the bases with two outs but Billingsley struck out Freese. In the second inning, the Cardinals loaded the bases with nobody out, but a Kyle Lohse strikeout was followed by a grounder back to the box by Rafael Furcal that Billingsley turned into a 1-2-3 double play.
The Dodgers loaded the bases themselves with no outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, but managed just one run as James Loney grounded into a double play and A.J. Ellis struck out to end the inning.
Billingsley recovered after the second inning to retire seven in a row, but the Cardinals put crooked numbers on the board in both the fifth and sixth inning. Three runs in the fifth were highlighted by a two-run triple by Skip Schumaker, an inning that was exacerbated by Billingsley getting an error for failing to touch first base on a grounder by Furcal. A bloop single to left field by Furcal in the sixth inning plated two more runs and gave the Cardinals a 5-2 lead.
The Dodgers added a run in the sixth inning thanks to three hits, including a single by Adam Kennedy that got past Beltran in right field that was somehow scored a triple. The Dodgers put the tying runs on base with two outs and sent Ivan De Jesus to the plate to pinch hit for Billingsley. De Jesus hit the ball hard in his first major league plate appearance of 2012, but it was right to Holliday, who caught the ball in left field to end the inning.
A.J. Ellis went 0-for-4, to snap both his eight-game hitting streak and his streak of 28 straight games reaching base via hit or walk.
Home Runs: Scott Van Slyke (1)
WP - Javy Guerra (2-3): 1 IP, 1 strikeout
LP - Mark Rzepczynski (0-2): 2/3 IP, 2 hits, 2 runs, 2 strikeouts
Sv - Kenley Jansen (5): 1 IP, 1 strikeout