The Tigers on Sunday played like the first-place team they were when they arrived in L.A., downing the second-place Dodgers, 6-2, to avoid the three-game series sweep. The Dodgers (25-19) were tied with the Padres for the National League West lead entering the past two days, but fell a game behind on Sunday with San Diego's second straight win over the Mariners.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
But the Dodgers weren't fretting much that they were looking up at the Padres on Sunday before Monday's off-day and the start of a six-game road trip on Tuesday. There's still a "Hey, weren't we in last place two weeks ago?" feeling.
"You're pretty comfortable with the way we're playing," manager Joe Torre said.
Hiroki Kuroda was comfortable for most of the game Sunday aside from the first inning. The Dodgers had their chances late when Torre called both Manny Ramirez and Ronnie Belliard to pinch-hit, but neither found any heroics. The Dodgers left eight men on base and hit into a season-high four double plays.
"Today we were in it most of the game, we got back in it," said Casey Blake, who went 0-for-3 after hitting nearly .500 the rest of the seven-game homestand. "They scored the three runs early, we still had our chances and they pulled away at the end."
Kuroda's glaring mistake came on a 1-1 count to Miguel Cabrera with one out in the first and the Tigers already ahead, 1-0. Cabrera swung and the ball raced itself to the left-field corner, landing well into the "Mannywood" section of the stands for a two-run home run.
"There was not much difference between the first inning and the rest of the innings," Kuroda said of his team-leading seventh quality start of the season. "The home run pitch, the location was not bad, but he was waiting for that pitch inside. So I could've thrown him a little bit more inside now that I think about it."
The Dodgers had nine hits and two walks off Tigers starter Rick Porcello, who has had a poor season but pitched well of late, and they couldn't piece anything together outside the fifth inning. Jamey Carroll, in potentially his last start at shortstop for some time with Rafael Furcal's imminent return, finished 2-for-4, as did Garret Anderson, who notched his first multi-hit game of the season.
Blake DeWitt and Xavier Paul also had two hits, and Paul had the only Dodgers knock that had runs attached to it. His line-drive, two-out single with the bases loaded in the fifth brought in DeWitt and Carroll and cut Detroit's lead to 3-2. Matt Kemp flied out to the warning track in center field to end the inning.
Since Paul was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque on May 18, he's 7-for-17 with a double and four RBIs.
DeWitt and Carroll had singles again to load the bases in the sixth inning, and Kuroda was pulled for Ramirez with Porcello still on the mound and two out. Ramirez, after an incredible reception from 46,053, grounded out to third base on the first pitch he saw, Porcello's last of the game.
Kuroda, whom Torre said would have gone back out for the seventh inning, threw just 88 pitches, 60 for strikes. He allowed six hits, one walk and struck out five.
"I thought he pitched great after the first," Torre said. "He gave us a strong outing. He would've gone back out there."
The Dodgers trailed, 4-2, in the eighth after Magglio Ordonez hit a solo home run in the top half of the inning, and again L.A. had something brewing in the bottom half. James Loney led off with a walk and Anderson hit a one-out single. Torre brought in Belliard to pinch-hit for DeWitt against left-handed reliever Phil Coke. That turned into a 4-6-3 double play.
Belliard also had a misplay in the top of the ninth inning, bobbling a potential double play and settling for just one out. The Tigers scored two runs in the inning. Belliard was not charged an error because the double play can't be assumed, but he has made three errors this season -- all at third base, where he's played only seven games.
Another Torre maneuver backfired in the ninth when the Tigers' Jim Leyland reminded all he used to manage in the NL.
Leyland sent Dontrelle Willis, Friday's starting pitcher but known to handle a bat nonetheless, to pinch-hit with a 4-2 lead and runners on the corners and one out. Torre pulled right-handed reliever Ronald Belisario for George Sherrill, and Leyland called Willis back for right-hander Adam Everett, who dropped a bunt down to make it 5-2. Johnny Damon's single made it 6-2.
"Willis is a pretty good hitter," Torre said. "It was just a decision I made that didn't work out."
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less