It wasn't pretty, and the ride was at times quite bumpy, but the Dodgers somehow navigated their way to a 5-3 win over the Cardinals on Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Adrian Gonzalez homered and drove in three runs, and Mark Ellis doubled home Carl Crawford for the eventual winning run, but the game will likely be remembered for a decision, maybe a pair of them, by manager Don Mattingly.
Ted Lilly was about as good as the Dodgers had any right to expect on Saturday. After a shaky first inning that saw an unearned run cross the plate, Lilly retired 14 batters in a row and cruised into the sixth inning with a 3-1 lead. But after a one-out walk to Matt Holliday, manager Don Mattingly was extra cautious in pulling Lilly after just 79 pitches.
Enter Ronald Belisario, who retired just one of his five batters faced, and left with the game tied at 3-3. Belisario has allowed 10 of 14 inherited runners to score this season. The only pitcher in baseball with a worse percentage (minimum 10 inherited runners) is Anthony Bass of the Padres, who has allowed 11 of 13 to score.
After the Dodgers grabbed the lead in the sixth inning, Matt Kemp struck out swinging with two runners on base to end the inning. Kemp and Andre Ethier were both booed quite loudly by Dodger Stadium fans on Saturday, each time they made an out with runners on base.
But in the seventh, when Mattingly wanted to bring in Kenley Jansen in the middle of the frame for an extended stint, he made a double switch. Skip Schumaker entered the game in center field, taking over for Kemp, who made the last out of the previous inning.
Removing even a struggling Kemp was so shocking - the last time I could find Kemp removed from a close game in such fashion was on Apr. 24, 2010 in Washington, for Carlos Monasterios - that left fielder Carl Crawford thought Schumaker was coming in for him.
Kemp was visibly upset in the dugout at being removed, perhaps as upset as the fans booing his .261/.313/.344 start to the season. It should be noted that when Kemp's spot came to bat again, in the eighth inning, pinch hitter Juan Uribe delivered an RBI double.
Pacro Rodriguez retired all three batters he faced, Kenley Jansen allowed a pair of hits but struck out four, then Brandon League, with a two-run advantage, recorded the final three outs for his 10th save.
- Gonzalez reached base five times on Saturday - a home run, a double, a single and two walks - for the first time since last May 11.
- Nick Punto was 3-for-4 with a walk and scored 2 runs.
In the third inning play stopped briefly to attend to Dee Gordon at shortstop. His middle finger was stuck in a downward position, different than the rest of his fingers, and looked like it might have been broken or dislocated when shown on the Dodger Stadium video board. But after trainer Sue Falsone checked on Gordon, he remained in the game with what was apparently only a cramp.
Gordon later singled to snap an 0-for-25 skid.
Home run: Adrian Gonzalez (5)
WP - Paco Rodriguez (1-2): 3 up, 3 down
LP - Seth Maness (3-1): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 (unearned) run, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Sv - Brandon League (10): 1 IP, 1 strikeout