On a rainy day filled with hamstring injuries, the Dodgers had a chance to get out of Wrigley Field with a victory and a series win, but poor relief pitching and some questionable decision making late gave the Cubs a 4-3 win in 11 innings on Sunday at Wrigley Field.
Javy Guerra had four days of rest and still couldn't find his swag, blowing his third save of the season. His ninth inning could have been even worse than the one run allowed, but David DeJesus was gunned down at the plate on a great relay throw by Mark Ellis in the ninth inning.
Two innings later, DeJesus was the beneficiary of Jamey Wright's unsuccessful exploration to find the strike zone, drawing a bases loaded walk to end the game. This was two batters after manager Don Mattingly decided to intentionally walk Welington Castillo, who was 0-for-11 this season with five strikeouts and 8-for-44 in his major league career, with first base open.
Wright also hit pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who was pinch hitting. Wright has surprised this season with 14 strikeouts in his 12 innings, but he also has 10 walks and two hit batters. We are entering Mike MacDougal territory here.
As for Guerra, he has allowed six runs and 12 hits in his last four innings, over five appearances. That includes two blown saves, another loss, and a game in which he allowed two runs in the ninth inning of a tie game.
A little over a week ago, Mattingly said of Guerra, "The game will tell us what to do with him. If he has trouble [as closer], we'll put him in a different spot."
That time is now.
Matt Kemp was a late scratch from the starting lineup with a tight left hamstring, a precautionary move by manager Don Mattingly to rest his best player on a rainy day at Wrigley Field. In the sixth inning, Kemp was used as a pinch hitter, flying out to end the inning. That extended Kemp's streak to 393 consecutive games played, the longest active streak in MLB.
Fellow recent hamstring injury sufferer Juan Rivera hit a two-run home run in the top of the third inning that gave the Dodgers a 3-0 lead. Rivera was making just his third start since being held out of the starting lineup for six straight games with his own strained left hamstring.
Dropping Like Flies
Super sub Jerry Hairston Jr. singled in the second inning but felt something while running to first base and immediately grabbed his leg and was doubled over upon reaching base. After being examined by trainer Sue Falsone, Hairston was removed from the game with a strained left hamstring.
The infield depth is already razor thin with Uribe getting held out of the lineup for the fifth straight game on Sunday with a left wrist injury, an injury that will send him to a specialist once the team returns to Los Angeles, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
With no Hairston and no Uribe, the club is without a backup shortstop, a security blanket of sorts that no manager would be caught dead without. Don't be surprised if Justin Sellers, who was optioned to Triple A Friday, makes his way to Los Angeles for the upcoming homestand. In fact, general manager Ned Colletti said during the radio broadcast that "Sellers is ready to get on a plane pending info about Hairston." (hat tip to Mike Petriello for that)
Harang Walks Tightrope
Aaron Harang was by no means pretty on Sunday, with 10 baserunners allowed in his six innings, and allowed at least one runner in scoring position in each of his six innings. The Cubs were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position off Harang, with the one hit a two-out, two-run single by Starlin Castro in the bottom of the third inning. Harang was able to get out of the inning without further damage when Castro was thrown out trying to advance to second base on the single.
Those were the only two runs allowed by Harang, who had just two strikeouts against three walks in his six innings.
The Dodgers forced emergency starter Travis Wood to throw 71 pitches in the first three innings in building their 3-0 lead, but then Wood settled into a groove and retired the final 11 batters he faced, getting through six innings.
Wood might have finished his day with even less damage, but a sure bases loaded, inning-ending double play ground ball off the bat of Harang in the second inning became a 4-6 force out as Castro rushed his throw from shortstop and bounced it to first loo late to get Harang.
The Dodgers return home to Dodger Stadium, where they will play 18 of their next 23 games. Monday night opens a series with the San Francisco Giants, with Ted Lilly and Barry Zito giving radar gun operators most of the night off.
Home Runs: Juan Rivera (2)
WP - Rafel Dolis (2-2): 2 IP, 1 hit, 1 strikeout
LP - Jamey Wright (1-2): 1+ IP, 2 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 1 HBP, 1 strikeout