James Loney's run-scoring single broke a tie and capped a topsy-turvy seventh inning, carrying the Dodgers to a 5-4 win on 70's Night at Dodger Stadium, pulling the Dodgers to within a half-game of the first place Padres, who lost in Philadelphia.
The first unexpected moment came with the Dodgers leading 4-2 in the top of the seventh inning, when Clayton Kershaw exited with two outs after walking his fifth batter of the night. Two runners were on base, but Hong-Chih Kuo was coming in so you can forgive Dodger fans for expecting the inning to be over without any damage. However, Kuo allowed a double to Yunel Escobar, which tied the game. Escobar had three hits and three runs batted in on the night.
The next unexpected moment came in the bottom of the inning. Andre Ethier doubled with one out, leaving first base open with Manny Ramirez at the plate. On April 20 and 21 in Cincinnati, Ramirez reached base in nine consecutive plate appearances. He played one more game before going on the disabled list, but since April 21, Manny had 15 hits in 75 at-bats, and hit .200/.291/.307 coming into the seventh inning tonight. However, the Braves decided to walk Ramirez intentionally, honoring his reputation rather than recent performance. Loney followed with a single to score Ethier and give the Dodgers the lead. I'm not one to question Bobby Cox, a man with more wins than I can count and a man so awesome that he still wears spikes during games, but I think the way Ramirez is hitting right now, the Braves needed to challenge him.
Kuo got the final out in the seventh inning, and pitched a perfect eighth inning to pick up the win. Jonathan Broxton struck out two in a perfect ninth inning for his 14th save. The final out was a strike out of the amazing Jason Heyward, who got fitted for a platinum sombrero tonight, with five strikeouts. Heyward is just the third player ever to strike out five times against the Dodgers in a nine-inning game, joining Bob Sadowski (a pitcher, in 1964) and Mike Cameron (2007).
Kershaw was wild, walking five batters in his 6 2/3 innings, but he also struck out nine. Had Escobar not singled in the seventh inning, Kershaw would have allowed two runs for the sixth straight start. As it stands, he has allowed a total of seven earned runs in his last 40 innings, walking 18 while striking out 45.
On the Prime Ticket broadcast, Vin Scully addressed the death of the legendary John Wooden before the fourth inning:
Those of who knew him and knew him well, are the ones who are blessed by his life. As usual, when it gets down to it, Shakespeare said it best: ‘His life was gentle and the elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world, this was a man.’
I'm not sure how long this clip will remain online, but here is Scully addressing Wooden in its entirety (thanks to @dodgerfan_net and @LADesignGuy for the link):
- Entering tonight, Kershaw and Oliver Perez of the Mets were tied with the most walks of opposing pitchers in baseball, with four each. Kershaw walked Kenshin Kawakami in the fourth inning to break that tie. No other pitcher has walked more than two opposing pitchers.
- The run in the eighth inning was charged to Kawakami, who fell to 0-8 on the season
- Every Dodger starter, including Kershaw had at least one hit. Jamey Carroll was the only one with two hits, and has nine hits in 16 at-bats (.563) in June
- The Dodgers had four doubles and a triple, their 13th game this season with five or more extra-base hits.
Chad Billingsley faces Tommy Hanson tomorrow night in the third game of the series.
WP - Hong-Chih Kuo (1-1): 1 1/3 IP, 1 hit, 1 strikeout
LP - Kenshin Kawakami (0-8): 6 1/3 IP, 9 hits, 5 runs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
Sv - Jonathan Broxton (14): 1 IP, 2 strikeouts