LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers held a 5-2 lead entering the eighth inning on Saturday night, and Chris Withrow had to face Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki with the bases full of tying runs. It was a mess Withrow got into himself.
It was setting up as the ultimate second-guesser's dream, especially since Paul Maholm was cruising through seven innings with only 84 pitches. He warmed up in the eighth, too, but only to get the pinch-hitter Rutledge into the game.
"I've told every manager I've ever had to never ask. I'm always going to want to stay in the game. I'm always going to plead my case. They told me I was going to back out there to warm up and there was a good chance I'd be taken out, but when you're in the middle of the diamond it's not a place to argue," Maholm said. "With the bullpen we've got, I'm more than happy to hand it over to those guys."
But with Maholm already out and the bases already full, manager Don Mattingly had a decision to make.
"Obviously we like his stuff. It's funny, you kind of match up every day with the sheet. You match up caution areas and good areas. With With, his stuff is pretty much always good. You can match him up with anybody," Mattingly recalled. "Right there, at CarGo and Tulo, it just felt like if you were going to get through those two guys, you want a guy with that kind of stuff."
Mattingly stayed with Withrow.
"I thought he was close on some pitches to Arenado," Mattingly said. "I just felt like he could get it done there."
After a 91-mph cutter to Gonzalez, Withrow threw three fastballs at 97, 97 and 96, the last won foul tipped into the glove of catcher Drew Butera.
Withrow alternated cutters and fastballs in his five pitches to Tulowitzki, getting him swinging on a 93-mph cutter.
Three outs. Inning over. Lead secured.
"Those are two of the best players in Major League Baseball that he did that to," said Matt Kemp, watching from center field. "Withrow has been doing a great job, and he's one of our go-to guys."
Maholm was quick-witted enough to point out the benefits of Withrow's wild eighth-inning ride.
"The stuff that he has, he can strikeout anybody," Maholm said. "When he came off, I told him he was just setting it up for the ninth so we didn't have to face those guys."
The Dodgers go for a series win and a split of their 10-game homestand on Sunday afternoon, with Hyun-jin Ryu pitching against Jorge De La Rosa.