Friday, June 28, 2013

Six straight W's as Dodgers keep on rollin'

Perhaps the best part about Thursday night's win over the Phillies?  Zack Greinke was far from his usual dominant self at home, but the Dodgers still found a way to win.

Despite being outhit 14-7, a late two-run single by Yasiel Puig gave the Dodgers a lead they would not relinquish, going on to win, 6-4.  After beating the Padres in both weekend games and sweeping the Giants in three, the Dodgers have kept the ball rolling in the opener of a four-game series.

If you were only able to watch the first inning and nothing else, you would think the Dodgers would have won this in a blowout.  Skip Schumaker played second and hit leadoff for Mark Ellis and walked to start things.  Puig lined a hard one up the middle that was kicked by pitcher Jonathan Pettibone, forcing Schumaker at second in an unlucky play.

Adrian Gonzalez singled to put two on.  Matt Kemp hit cleanup in his second start back from the DL, and his RBI single over the third base bag made it 1-0.  Andre Ethier skied one off the wall in center to bring home two, and it was 3-0.

That would be it for the Dodgers for awhile, as about the only thing they did until the seventh was have Nick Punto single, steal second, and get sacrificed over to third in the second, but get stranded.  In fact, Pettibone completely shut them down by retiring 15 straight before getting pulled in the seventh.

The Phillies not only chipped away after the first, they ended up taking a brief lead.  Dominic Brown launched his 21st homer leading off the second, tied for tops in the NL with Carlos Gonzalez.  There hasn't been a whole lot to go right for the Phillies this year, but Brown has certainly been one of them.

Greinke was far from sharp all night, as he ran many counts to 3-2 thanks to relentless nibbling at the corners.  In the fifth, he gave away the lead, though it could have been so much worse.  With one out, Pettibone singled, and Ben Revere reached on an infield single.  Chase Utley hit an RBI single to center to make it 3-2.  Jimmy Rollins followed with his own RBI single to tie the game at 3-3.

With momentum clearly on the Phillies' side, they really screwed it up.  Ryan Howard had a 3-0 count and was turned loose.  That's a good idea if you square up a fat pitch.  It's not if you bounce one in front of the plate for the 1-6-3 double play.  Just horrible execution by a veteran hitter like Howard.

Greinke stayed on to pitch the seventh and almost got out of it unscathed, but fell victim to a two-out, solo shot from Utley to put the Phillies up 4-3.  Puig nearly fell victim to a broken body after crashing into the wall trying to cach it.  Thankfully he was fine, but after starting the game on fire, the Dodgers gave it all away.

Ah, but these are not the same Dodgers from even a couple weeks ago.  These guys fight back, and it showed in the bottom of the seventh.  Justin De Fratus relieved, which was a good thing considering the Dodgers looked lost after the first inning against Pettibone.  Maybe the kid will go on to have a great career, but man... it's hard to believe he can set down 15 straight.  But he did.

Anyway, like many other times when teams have big innings, it starts with a walk, and it did here to A.J. Ellis.  Howard apparently was not done handing over favors to the Dodgers, as fell on his butt trying to field an easy bunt from Juan Uribe, failing to get anyone out.  That was pretty embarrassing and should have been an error, but that's hometown scoring for ya.

Punto laid down a great sacrifice to advance both runners to scoring position.  Don Mattingly then turned to Hanley Ramirez, who started the game on the bench.  Charlie Manuel didn't mess around, intentionally walking him to load the bases.  It was a great move at first, as Schumaker looked horrible striking out on three pitches.

Then came Puig, who looked awful in missing two outside sliders.  De Fratus did the right thing in throwing it again, but should have put it in the dirt, as Puig pulled a two-run single to left to get the lead back at 5-4.  Just when you thought the league had him figured out, he shows just how good of a hitter he is.

The Dodgers added one more in the eighth thanks to Kemp.  He singled leading off, then stole both second and third with one out, which is always good news after missing time with a hamstring injury.  Ellis hit a sac-fly RBI to right, and it was 6-4.

Kenley Jansen got two quick outs to start the ninth before Revere singled to bring up Utley.  It was quite a battle with Utley, but Gonzalez gloved a liner for the final out.  The save was Jansen's seventh.

This turned into one of those games where the bats go silent after a big start.  Credit goes to Pettibone for giving his team a chance to win.  He definitely outpitched Greinke, who lasted seven innings for 12 hits, four runs, one walk, and five strikeouts.  He's fortunate to get his fifth win, as three double play balls definitely helped him get it.

Puig left his mark with a big hit, but even more encouraging was watching Kemp in the eighth.  He looked fresh in stealing two bases and scoring on a fly ball.  I think with him we always have to be a bit cautious, as we've seen him go from looking great one day to injured the next.  Maybe he's finally healthy and ready to go the rest of the season.  He certainly looked that way in this game.

The Dodgers are only six games in back of the NL West-leading Diamondbacks, despite still being in last place.  Chris Capuano will look to keep the good times going by toeing the rubber on Friday.

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