While it isn't exactly a slump, the Dodgers' offense, rather like the Old Gray Mare, just ain't what she used to be. They have scored four runs in their last five games against the opponents starting pitching and now, leaning on strong pitching instead of a boisterous offense, have won four of the five, all by one run.
In the first five games of their current nine-game homestand, nine of the Dodgers' 11 runs have come against relievers.
After Rafael Furcal had struck out and Orlando Hudson had tapped back to the pitcher, Casey Blake singled. James Loney walked and Russell Martin bounced to third baseman Pedro Feliz as 52,000 fans groaned. But Feliz fumbled the ball and the bases were loaded.
Ethier then belted closer Brad Ledge's first pitch into the corner down the right field line where it bounced around while Blake and Loney scored to set of a wild celebration. It was the fifth walkoff win of the season and Los Angeles improved their best record in the majors to 38-19.
In the last two games of the Arizona series, the Dodgers scored five in the eighth after starter Dan Haren had held them to a pair of runs over seven innings and one night later the managed only one run but beat Jon Garland 1-0.
For Ethier, it was his fifth career walk-off hit, but he said he knew what was coming. "I was looking for the fastball and was just trying to be aggressive in my zone. That's what I try and do in those situations, because he [Lidge] has three quality pitches."
The blown save was Lidge's fifth of the season, and the Dodgers now have 11 victories in their last at-bat.
Fourty-six year old Jamie Moyer allowed only four hits over his seven innings and Eric Milton also pitched very well. Milton, who has resurrected his career after two year off recovering from arm surgery, lasted 4.1 innings and gave up three runs but only one was earned.
Then the Los Angeles bullpen shut the Phillies down. Guillermo Mota finished the fifth without damage and didn't allow a baserunner in the sixth. Brent Leach worked around a single and a walk in the seventh, Ramon Troncoso wriggled out of a bases-loaded in the eighth by getting Jimmy Rollins to fly out to left field. And Jonathan Broxton pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out three, and won his sixth game on the strength of Ethier's clutch double.
The defending World Champions scored their first run in the third inning on a pair of singles and a force out at second base. They added two more in the fourth when Orlando Hudson's Gold Glove betrayed him on a potential double play ball. Chase Utley's two-out double drove in both runs.
Juan Pierre, who had singled, stolen second but then was thrown out attempting to steal third in the first inning, manufactured a run in the fourth.
He was hit by a pitch, again stole second (#13), moved to third on Furcal's grounder and scored when Hudson also bounced out to shortstop. "It's been like squeezing blood out of a rock," manager Joe Torre said. "We scored a run without a hit. We'll do whatever we can, because we're going to hit -- it's just a matter of when its going to start up again."
Milton gave up a leadoff double to Ryan Howard in the fifth and after Raul Ibanez had bounced out, Mota took over and with the help of a pair of line drives, the first caught by Hudson, the second by Pierre, ended the inning.
The second Dodgers run came in the seventh when Furcal doubled and scored on a two-out single by Loney, his 42nd of the season.
Torre couldn’t say enough about his team’s resilience after the Dodgers’ latest back-form-the-dead win. “These guys, they never surprise me,” Torre remarked. “With the five-run eighth inning the other night and then tonight -- with just the resilience and great relief pitching. As long as there are 27 outs in a game we’re going to try to play every one of them.”
Todays afternoon game, the Dodgers will give the ball to RHP Hiroki Kuroda (1-1, 2.53 ERA), who has only started twice this season, opening day and then two months later against Arizona. Kuroda has had success against the Phillies in three career starts, including the postseason, going 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA and 15 strikeouts over 19 innings.
Philadelphia will send RHP Joe Blanton (4-3, 5.86 ERA) who is coming off his third straight strong, and winning, performances. Blanton has been 3-1 on the road this season and 6-1 in his past 12 starts.
Score by Innings
Philadelphia 001 200 000-3
Los Angeles 000 100 102-4
Los Angeles ab r h bi ave
Pierre lf 3 1 1 0 .367
Furcal ss 4 1 1 0 .239
Hudson 2b 4 0 0 1 .318
Blake 43b 4 1 1 0 .289
Loney 1b 3 1 1 1 .286
Martin c 4 0 0 0 .257
Ethier rf 4 0 1 2 .263
Kemp cf 2 0 1 0 .313
Milton p 1 0 0 0 .000
Mota p 0 0 0 0 .000
Hoffmann ph 1 0 0 0 .150
Leach p 0 0 0 0 .000
Troncoso p 0 0 0 0 .000
Loretta ph 1 0 0 0 .279
Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000
Totals 31 4 6 4
Philadelphia 36 3 11 3
Error- Hudson (3). 2B- Furcal (9),
Ethier (14). RBI- Hudson (33), Loney
(42), Ethier 2 (33). LOB- Los Angeles
4, Philadelphia 11. SB- Pierre 2 (13),
Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era
Milton 4.1 8 3-1 1 3 2.89
Mota 1.2 0 0-0 0 2 5.63
Leach 1.0 1 0-0 1 0 4.66
Troncoso 1.0 1 0-0 1 0 1.78
Broxton (6-0) 1.0 1 0-0 0 3 1.29
HBP- Pierre. T- 3:16. Att- 52,538.
Dodger Blue Notes-- Outfielder Xavier Paul, who has been on the disabled list since May 22 with a staph infection, took batting practice for the first time since the infection on Friday. Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Paul will continue to work out with the team before going on a rehab assignment in the near future. ...The Dodgers are holding a press conference today to announce Dodger Stadium's new ZIP code of 90090. ...The win came on the anniversary of Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston's number 24 being retired by the Dodgers exactly 22 years ago. ...Lakers guard Sasha "The Machine" Vujacic threw out the first pitch on Friday at Dodger Stadium.