Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wolf's dazzling 7 innings enough for win

With All-Star Dan Haren on the mound for the Diamondbacks and keeping runs at a premium, it was Randy Wolf who stepped up and did even better. Wolf's 7 strong innings of only 2 hits and 1 run lead the way as the Dodgers got the close win, 3-1. After dropping Friday's opening game, the Dodgers fought back to take 2 of 3 and close the road trip at 4-3.

Wolf's performance was awesome, but what will be remembered about this game is the ultra-rare "fourth run" rule. Here's the skinny. In the 2nd inning and the DBacks up 1-0, Andre Ethier was on 3rd and Juan Pierre on 2nd. Randy Wolf lined back to Haren, who then turned and threw to 2nd where Felipe Lopez tagged out Pierre for the inning ending DP.

We all thought that the score would remain the same, except that Ethier never tagged up and scored before Pierre was tagged. Since the DBacks all left the field, the run was counted because they never appealed the play at 3rd. Had they stayed on the field and done so, then the run would not have counted. So, it was 1-1.

You get all of that?

I'm not sure I did either, but that's the story. Anyway, in the 3rd Rafael Furcal started things with a walk, and Manny Ramirez walked 1 out later. James Loney, still hitting cleanup, singled to score Raffy for the 2-1 lead. Russell Martin followed up with a double play, continuing his slump. Oh well.

The rest of the game flew by after the 3rd. Haren struggled the first 3 innings, getting near 70 pitches, but settled down. Wolf was simply brilliant all day, mixing his breaking stuff and fastball and keeping all hitters off balance. After Lopez started the game with a double, he didn't give up a hit until Chad Tracy started the 8th with a single. In all, 15 men in a row were retired. It certainly wasn't overpowering, but it was fantastic control that was the key. His final line was 7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.

With the rotation thin right now with Hiroki Kuroda's injury and the bullpen getting plenty of work, it was good that Wolf could go so long. Hong-Chih Kuo came on in the 8th with a runner on and did what he does best - blow hitters away and get a hold. Jonathan Broxton was much the same as he went 3-3 in save situations.

Up next is the home opener against the San Francisco Giants. I know I've said this a lot already, but the pitching matchup will again be exciting to watch. Chad Billingsley goes against Randy Johnson. I'm glad Johnson gets the start because it will be like his DBack days when the division rival comes to Dodger Stadium. Tuesday will be a day off.

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