After a night of spot starts, spotty decisions and falling behind early, the Dodgers came back and Howie Kendrick played spot remover with a two-run single to right field, giving the Dodgers a 6-5 comeback walk-off win over the Mariners on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
Justin Turner got the rally started with a leadoff single to right field to open the ninth, then advanced to third on a single by Jimmy Rollins. But after a ground ball to third base by Carl Crawford erased Turner, who was out in a rundown before runners had a chance to advance from first and second base, Adrian Gonzalez walked to load the bases for Kendrick.
David Huff went about as far as the Dodgers could have reasonably expected, throwing 68 pitches in his four innings. But he allowed two home runs in the first inning, giving the Mariners a quick 3-0 lead. It marked the fifth time in eight games the Dodgers have allowed at least a run in the first inning, a frame during which they have been outscored 10-1 in 2015.
Huff was given the spot start in part because he throws left-handed and several key Mariners hitters are left-handed. The three lefty hitters in Seattle's lineup — Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager and Brad Miller — went 2-for-7 (.286) with a home run against Huff, while the right-handers went 5-for-12 (.417) with a home run and a walk.
The early exit for Huff meant an early opportunity for the red-hot Alex Guerrero, who batted for Huff in the fourth inning with a man on and the Dodgers down 4-1. Guerrero crushed a ball into the left field pavilion to cut the deficit to 4-3, the first pinch-hit home run for the Dodgers since Scott Van Slyke on July 22, 2014 against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.
Andre Ethier, starting in right field in place of a hamstrung Yasiel Puig, pulled the Dodgers to within a run at 5-4 with a solo shot to right field in the sixth inning, his first home run since June 29, 2014 against the Cardinals, ending a span of 65 games and 146 plate appearances without.
In the last three games, Guerrero is 5-for-10 with two homers, a double and eight RBI, Ethier is 4-for-9 (.444) with a home run, triple, and a double, providing value in reserve and giving the club what manager Don Mattingly called "contributions from all over."
Juan Nicasio followed Huff on the mound and promptly walked three of his first four hitters he faced. But the Dodgers needed Nicasio to last multiple innings, which he did, striking out four the fifth and sixth innings, allowing only one of those walks to score.
But Nicasio after two innings was allowed to hit with two outs and nobody on down a run in the bottom of the sixth inning, with Scott Van Slyke, Turner and Yasiel Puig all presumably available off the bench. Nicasio hit a ball roughly 30 feet and reached on an error, but then was removed on the mound before throwing a pitch in the top of the seventh.
Though it turned out Puig's availability was merely a pregame ruse.
"I wasn't planning on using him tonight," Mattingly said. "He was available to look like he was going to pinch hit."
Home runs: Alex Guerrero (2), Andre Ethier (1); Robinson Cano (1), Nelson Cruz (5)
WP - Yimi Garcia (2-0): 1 IP, 2 strikeouts
LP - Fernando Rodney (1-1): ⅓ IP, 3 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk