A.J. Ellis singled to right field and gave the Dodgers a 4-3 win in 11 innings over the Padres in the opener of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium. The second straight walk-off win for the Dodgers kept them a half-game behind the Cardinals for the second wild card in the National League.
Andre Ethier hit a game-tying home run with one out in the ninth inning against Luke Gregerson, sending the game into extra-innings. In the 12 games since taking manager Don Mattingly's suggestion to choke up on the bat, Ethier is hitting .457/.510/.783 with four home runs and three doubles.
Luis Cruz set a new career high with four hits for the Dodgers, including a single with two outs in the 11th inning to put runners at first and third base for Ellis.
After Will Venable singled and stole second base with one out in the first inning, Chase Headley continued his hot hitting, smashing a ball into the right field pavilion for a 2-0 Padres lead. Headley is hitting .311/.373/.584 since the All-Star break, and nobody during that time has more home runs (16) or runs batted in (50). Given that Joe Blanton leads the National League with 27 home runs allowed, this result was not all that surprising.
But Blanton settled down after the Headley blast, pitching into the seventh and allowing only five more hits. But he left with two outs and a runner on first base in the seventh, having given up a base hit to rookie pitcher Andrew Werner.
Even with expanded September rosters, the Padres pinch ran for Werner with another pitcher, Clayton Richard, who scored from second base on a single by Headley for a 3-2 San Diego lead.
The Dodgers scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings against Werner, who struck out eight and walked just one in his third major league start. In each of his three starts, Werner has allowed two runs, including one home run, in six innings. He allowed four hits in each of his first two starts, but tonight allowed five hits.
One of the runs came off the bat of Hanley Ramirez, who homered over the center field wall in the sixth inning for his 24th long ball of the season. Since July 25, the date the Dodgers acquired Ramirez from Miami, he leads the team with 10 home runs, while Ethier is second with five.
Brandon League hit a batter and intentionally walked another, but pitched a scoreless 10th inning, then pitched another scoreless inning in the 11th inning for his first win of the season. In League's last eight appearances, he has pitched nine scoreless innings with three hits allowed, four walks, and 13 strikeouts.
In that seventh inning rally for the Padres, the second of their three hits in the inning was by Logan Forsythe, who had a grounder that seemed destined for a groundout to second base until Randy Choate stuck out his left hand, deflecting and slowing the ball down. But more importantly, Choate was hurt on the play and after throwing a couple warmup pitches was removed from the game.
Scott Elbert and Ted Lilly are the only other left-handed pitchers left on the 40-man roster, and neither are close to returning. The earliest Elbert could return from the disabled list is September 11, so if Choate has to miss any time the Dodgers would have to get creative in their search for a southpaw replacement.
In house, the best option is probably Steven Rodriguez, whom the Dodgers drafted in the second round this season out of the University of Florida. In 19 combined innings between Class A Great Lakes and Double A Chattanooga, Rodriguez has a 0.95 ERA with 31 strikeouts and six walks.
Clayton Kershaw gets the start for the Dodgers on Tuesday night, while old friend Eric Stults gets the call for the Padres.
Home Runs: Hanley Ramirez (24), Andre Ethier (16); Chase Headley (24)
WP - Brandon League (1-6): 2 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
LP - Cory Burns (0-1): 2/3 IP, 3 hits, 1 run