Joe Torre has handled the Rule 5 rookie with kid gloves, but it's hard to argue with the five serviceable innings Monasterios delivered at Coors Field Friday night, which were followed by four overpowering innings by relievers in a 5-4 comeback win by the Dodgers over the Rockies.
Two of the four runs Monasterios allowed were unearned after a Ronnie Belliard error at first base in the first inning, another, another was a Clint Barmes home run that appeared to be pulled over the fence by a fan. His only walk was intentional, and he retired the final five batters he faced.
"I thought he pitched well," said Torre. "He could have been out of that first inning with no runs, and he held it together. He changed speeds, got left-handers out consistently."
The Dodgers' fifth starter situation has been a shell game all year, from Charlie Haeger to Ramon Ortiz to John Ely to Monasterios. Before the latest start, Torre said Haeger would probably return to the fifth starter role next week. After the start, Torre wavered. Monasterios is 2-0 with a 2.20 ERA.
"We'll have to figure it out," he said. "I wouldn't be afraid to do it [start Monasterios again]. We'll talk about it. He enhances his chances -- if we're considering it, if we're better to do that."
Although Monasterios fell behind 4-0, the Dodgers rallied off Jeff Francis with homers from Matt Kemp and Manny Ramirez, a clutch pinch-double from Garret Anderson, Rafael Furcal's sacrifice fly and Russell Martin's double that preceded Ramirez's game-winner.
"I didn't feel tired. I think I started getting under the ball, though," said Francis. "The ball didn't have that life on it that it usually does. Command left. I was just trying to create something I had in the first few innings and, for some reason, it was something I couldn't grasp in the sixth."
Then came the Dodgers' bullpen. Relievers Ramon Troncoso, Hong-Chih Kuo, Ronald Belisario and Jonathan Broxton finished with eight strikeouts over the final four scoreless innings. Torre singled out a 1-2-3 eighth inning by Belisario, who came into the game with a 7.20 ERA.
Torre even pushed the unconventional button in the bottom of the ninth. With two outs and a runner on second, Broxton threw two balls to leadoff hitter Carlos Gonzalez, and Torre ordered him walked intentionally, putting the winning run on base, so Broxton could strike out Ryan Spilborghs and end the game with his 12th save and 11th this month.
"I did it in the 1996 World Series," recalled Torre. "I just felt he was pitching Gonzalez carefully, and I didn't want him throwing a 2-0 fastball."
For the second consecutive game, the Dodgers had issues with the umpires.
With the Rockies leading, 3-0, Barmes hit a drive to the fence in left-center, where a fan caught the ball. Second-base umpire Dan Iassogna motioned a home run, but Kemp, then Torre, argued that the fan reached over the fence, and the ball should have been ruled in play as a ground-rule double.
Three of the umpires retreated to view instant replays. Crew chief Dale Scott emerged, signaling that the call stood as a home run. The Dodgers -- still miffed that umpires did nothing to make the Cubs' Ted Lilly engage the rubber the day before -- were mystified at the call.
"How can they watch the replay and say that's a home run?" asked Kemp. "No chance. He reached over. I was right there. I looked over at Reed [Johnson, the Dodgers right fielder]. Are you serious?"
Scott explained the ruling.
"We didn't have enough visible evidence to change the call on the field," he said. "We had four or five different angles. But any time you have replay, you've got to have credible visible evidence to change it. We tried to see what would have happened if he didn't touch it. It well might have gone. It was a tough call, but that's all we had to go on. That's why we kept the call."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less