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Rookies Guide Dodgers To Nail Biting Win In Houston

To say that the Dodgers play of late has been uninspiring is an understatement to say the least, but Tuesday night was a much-needed and very welcome jolt of adrenalin, thanks to three rookies. Jerry Sands, Rubby De La Rosa, and Javy Guerra lifted the Dodgers to a thrilling 5-4 win over the Astros, in one of the most exciting games of the year so far.

The Dodgers took advantage of a two-out error by Bill Hall in the third inning, which loaded the bases for Sands. The rookie absolutely crushed a ball to deep right center, well above the 404 sign. The grand slam was the first extra-base hit with the bases loaded by the Dodgers this season, and gave the Dodgers a 5-0 lead.

Sands has been on fire of late, with two home runs and a four-hit game in the last four days. Since his promotion on April 18, here is how Sands stacks up with his fellow corner outfielder, Andre Ethier:

Since April 18
109 10 2 10 16 15 .239/.343/.413 .756
Ethier 133 6 3 14 15 14 .277/.353/.403 .757

Chad Billingsley recorded two outs in the bottom of the third inning, but then allowed a walk and three hits to plate three runs and trim the lead to 5-3. Billingsley would battle again in the sixth inning, loading the bases with nobody out. However, Billingsley was left out there to clean up his mess, which he did, allowing one run but keeping the Dodgers ahead. Billingsley allowed four runs in his six innings, but he also struck out nine.

After Mike MacDougal pitched a scoreless seventh inning, with two strikeouts, the moment we were all waiting for came to pass. De La Rosa made his major league debut with the Dodgers up by one run in the eighth inning, facing the 3-4-5 hitters for Houston. Well, two strikeouts and a shattered bat groundout later, Rubby plowed his way into the Baseball Encyclopedia and put visions of a two-inning save in our heads.

You see, Kenley Jansen threw 38 pitches Monday night and Matt Guerrier threw 25 of his own, so they were unavailable tonight. Nobody was warming up in the bullpen, so De La Rosa, who used 13 pitches in the eighth inning, was a lock to pitch the ninth. It gave me time to look up the last time a Dodger pitcher finished a win with two innings in his big league debut (Tim Belcher, 1987) and the last time a Dodger got a two-inning save in his big league debut (Dick Scott, 1963).

Only the Dodgers' offense came to life, again. Sort of. An Aaron Miles single with two outs put runners on first and third, and brought up the pitcher's spot. That meant no more De La Rosa, but it also meant Andre Ethier got another chance to bat with men on base late in the game. Houston elected to walk Ethier to face Rafael Furcal, and the decision paid off as Furcal watched strike three go by to end the inning.

With no De La Rosa, Jansen, or Guerrier, and three right-handed batters due up, Javy Guerra was chosen as the closer of the moment for the Dodgers. The Texas native was in his fifth big league game, a relative graybeard compared to De La Rosa. Guerra got the job done in short order, throwing just eight pitches, all strikes, to close out the win. Guerra became the sixth different Dodger to get a save in the last 23 days.

Sure it's just one win, and the Dodgers still have a lot of work to do. But we got a great glimpse of the future, which if Sands and De La Rosa have anything to say about it, will get brighter every day.

Ted Lilly pitches against Aneury Rodriguez tomorrow morning at 11AM on getaway day in the series finale.

WP - Chad Billingsley (3-4): 6 IP, 5 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts

LP - J.A. Happ (3-6): 5 IP, 3 hits, 5 runs (1 earned), 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Sv - Javy Guerra (1): 1 IP, 1 strikeout

Box Score