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Dodgers Accept Memorial Day Gifts, Beat Diamondbacks

Casey Blake somehow brings home the winning run (Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo / <a href="" target="new">LA Dodgers</a>)
Casey Blake somehow brings home the winning run (Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo / LA Dodgers)

Who knew that Memorial Day was a gift-giving holiday?  The Diamondbacks did everything but wrap up this game and put a bow on it for the Dodgers, as the Dodgers won 5-4 in the opening game of a homestand.  In the eighth inning, Kelly Johnson booted a two-out grounder by Andre Ethier, allowing two tying runs to score, eerily reminiscent of the Stephen Drew gaffe in April.  Then, in the ninth, the Dodgers had scored the winning run on a balk by Esmerling Vazquez.

With Andre Ethier back, it was only fitting that the Dodgers won in their final at-bat.  But this time it was Casey Blake who distracted Vazquez from third base, inducing the game-ending balk.  It was just the second time the Dodgers won on a game-ending balk since 1969, and the first since May 28, 1989 against Roger McDowell and the Mets.  The last major league balk-off was Atlanta over Colorado on September 9, 2008.  Back in February, the Baseball-Reference blog did some research on balk-offs in MLB history.

A balk-off was a fitting end to a perfectly crazy night at Dodger Stadium.

Just before the balk, with runners on first and second base and nobody out in the ninth inning, James Loney tried a mad dash to third base during a mound conference, and quickly aborted his attempt, but it was too late, as he was tagged out.  Loney was so angry he ran all the way up the tunnel to the clubhouse once he got to the dugout.

Chad Billingsley himself had a crazy beginning.  Through the first two innings, Billingsley faced 10 batters: he allowed three home runs, a double, and had six strikeouts.  Billingsley gave up three home runs one other time in his career, on June 26, 2007, also against Arizona.  Chris Young got Billingsley in both games.

After allowing four runs in the first two frames, Billingsley really settled down, allowing only a pair of singles over his final six innings, retiring the 14 of the last 15 batters he faced.  With no walks and 11 strikeouts, Billingsley entered elite company.  This was the third no-walk, 11-strikeout game of Billingsley's career, and just the 27th in Los Angeles Dodger history.

LA Dodger 0 BB / 11 K Games
Pitcher Games
Sandy Koufax 7
Chad Billingsley 3
Don Drysdale 3
Don Sutton
Kevin Gross
10 Others

Rodrigo Lopez also pitched eight innings for Arizona, allowing four runs himself, although two of those were earned.

Jonathan Broxton ended his month with the most saves in any month in Dodger history, with 12, but he didn't get a save tonight.  He got the win, his third of the season.  In May, Broxton made 14 appearances, had 12 saves, and two wins.

The Dodgers are 6-1 against Arizona this season, and 16-5 against the NL West.

John Ely faces Dan Haren tomorrow night.

WP - Jonathan Broxton (3-0):  1 IP, 1 hit, 2 strikeouts

LP - Esmerling Vazquez (0-1):  2/3 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 1 walk, 1 balk

Box Score