Thursday, April 23, 2009

Belisario coughs up lead in the 8th

The Dodgers and Astros were locked in a scoreless battle the first 3 innings in a duel between Randy Wolf and Roy Oswalt. After the Astros struck first with 2 in the 4th, the Dodgers used a 3 homer inning in the 6th to take the lead.

Spotted a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the 8th and facing the heart of the Astros order, Ronald Belisario couldn't hold up as the Astros took another one, 6-5. That's the 2nd straight blemish for the Dodgers after winning 8 straight.

The top of the 6th sure made it seem like the Dodgers were going to seize all momentum and take this game. Manny Ramirez started it off with a bomb to left, his 4th. Andre Ethier went back-to-back by just escaping one out to left, and it was 2-2. With 2 out and Russell Martin on with a walk, Casey Blake hit an even bigger bomb to take the 4-2 lead.

That didn't matter, though, as the Astros came right back with 2 of their own on a Jason Michaels double to knot it at 4. So much for grabbing all the momentum.

A tie game heading into the 8th, Ethier singled to lead off and James Loney hit a double to take the advantage. Now here's where the Dodgers faced a dilemma - bring in Hong-Chih Kuo, who's been pretty bad lately, or go with the young Belisario, who's good, but unproven. It was Belisario who got the call, and it wasn't a good one. Lance Berkman hit a solo homer with 1 down to tie it, and Pudge Rodriguez got a big 2-out single to take the 6-5 lead. LaTroy Hawkins put the Dodgers down in order for the easy save.

With Cory Wade on the DL, the Dodgers definitely have a problem on their hands when it comes to bridging the gap to Jonathan Broxton. I'm not sure if there's something physically wrong with Kuo, who has admitted to losing confidence after being hit around so hard lately. If it's just mental, then that's a good thing because his stuff is still nasty enough to correct.

Belisario is a nice story, and no doubt has great stuff. But he is totally new to all of this, so you have to expect that counting on him to be a consistent 8th inning option is going to have some bad results, like last night. Facing guys like Berkman and Carlos Lee in Houston is really tough, so you have to cut him some slack. I just hope either someone steps up soon or Wade comes back healthy shortly.

The Dodgers will look to avoid the sweep after starting off the year so well by sending Chad Billingsley to the mound. He's their ace, so it's the guy you'd want to have the ball in this situation. The game is on MLB Network, so everyone can enjoy. With cable that is.

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