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Gibbons Plays Hero In 11, Helps Dodgers Avoid 7

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A two-run home run by Jay Gibbons in the 11th inning gave the Dodgers a 4-2 victory, snapping their losing streak at six games. It was the fourth home run for Gibbons in 39 plate appearances with the Dodgers.

The game looked lost for the Dodgers in the 10th inning. Octavio Dotel gave up a deep drive by Jason Michaels to leadoff the inning to left center field, but it was caught by Gibbons in what I would call the nooks and crannies portion of Minute Maid Park, just to the right of the Crawford boxes. The very next batter, Michael Bourn, hit it to almost the exact same spot, but Gibbons was unable to haul this one in, and Bourn ended up with a triple. With a man on third base and one out, Dotel proceeded to strike out Jeff Keppinger (deemed "impossible to strikeout" by announcer Eric Collins during the television broadcast) and Hunter Pence to keep the Dodgers alive.

After stranding a pair of scoring opportunities in the third and fourth innings, the Dodgers broke through in the fifth inning. With two outs, after Rod Barajas singled and was sacrificed to second base, Jamey Carroll delivered an RBI single to left for the Dodgers' first run of the game, snapping a 12-inning scoreless span for the club.

After the Astros tied the score in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out jam-shot RBI single by Bourn, the Dodgers struck back in the sixth. Matt Kemp led off with a single to right field, only Hunter Pence took a horrific route to the ball and Kemp kept on trucking to third base. Kemp was awarded a triple on the play. With a drawn-in infield, pinch hitter Jay Gibbons delivered a groundball single just right of second base, giving the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.

Hiroki Kuroda saw his streak of seven-inning starts snapped at six games, but he still pitched a good game, giving up just one run in his six innings. Over his last 12 starts, Kuroda has averaged 6.72 innings per start, has a 2.79 ERA, and has 11 unintentional walks against 64 strikeouts.

Bourn struck again for Houston in the seventh inning, delivering his second two-out RBI single of the game, off George Sherrill, to tie the game at 2-2. Bourn was thrown out trying to advance to second base on the throw, but it looked like the classic draw-a-throw-to-guarantee-the-run gambit.

J.A. Happ has pitched well in every start at Minute Maid Park this season, and tonight was no different. He allowed one run in five innings tonight, striking out four with on walk, pushing his season numbers in Houston to four runs allowed in 37 1/3 innings, an ERA of 0.96.

Notes

  • John Lindsey got his second career at-bat tonight, pinch hitting to lead off the top of the seventh inning. He faced Wilton Lopez, the first right-hander he has faced in the big leagues, and he struck out on a 3-2 slider
  • Rod Barajas came into the game in his first slump as a Dodger, a 1-for-11 slide, but had three hits in four at-bats tonight.
  • Russ Mitchell started at first base tonight, his third straight start. He was hitless in four at-bats, although I thought his ninth inning grounder would find a hole. Instead Carlos Lee dove (well, he fell in the direction of the ball) to stop it, and threw Mitchell out at first. The Albuquerque call-ups are a combined 0-for-16 so far (Mitchell 0-for-10, Oeltjen 0-for-4, and Lindsey 0-for-2)
  • The only other time Bourn has had a pair of two-out RBI hits in the same game was June 24, 2007, when he was with the Phillies
  • The nine pitchers used by the Astros is a season high. They had used seven pitchers three times previously.
  • Pitcher Henry Villar made his big league debut for the Astros, entering with two outs in the top of the 11th inning. He induced a ground ball up along the first base line from his first hitter, Rafael Furcal, but Villar booted it for an error. Villar struck out Jamey Carroll to escape the inning with any further damage.
  • The Dodgers' previous three extra-inning games all ended with a score of 3-2, and with a 2-2 score tonight it looked like it might be another similar result. The Dodgers are 8-4 in extra-inning contests this season.

WP - Octavio Dotel (3-3):  2 IP, 1 hit, 3 strikeouts

LP - Fernando Abad (0-1):  1 IP, 2 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Box Score