Dodgers drop a nail-biter

Dodgers drop a nail-biter

LOS ANGELES -- A scheduled day off Thursday gives the Dodgers plenty of time to mull over all that went wrong Wednesday night.

They gave away a game to the Chicago Cubs, 5-4, although opinion was split on who deserved what.

"It was just a crazy thing," said Danys Baez, explaining how his fielding error on Jacque Jones' two-out nubber in the eighth inning turned into a three-run game-losing rally and his first blown save as stand-in closer for Eric Gagne.

Starter Brad Penny, a victim of various bloop hits, wouldn't blame a win that got away on just bad luck.

"A couple of errors cost us the game," said Penny, referring also to a throwing error by Jason Repko immediately following Baez's fumble that allowed two runners to advance just before Ronny Cedeno's game-winning, two-run single.

Repko earlier had slugged a two-run homer and the Dodgers led, 4-2, after the sixth inning on RBI singles from Sandy Alomar Jr. and pinch-hitter Ricky Ledee.

But on Ledee's single, Alomar pulled up lame for the second time in a week, which only adds to the dilemma facing management at the catching position. With two more hits, Alomar is batting a gaudy .478, but he's been unable to finish his last two starts because of cramps in each leg suffered while running the bases.

He was starting for the first time since suffering a cramp in his right calf a week earlier in Pittsburgh. This time it was the left hamstring, which he said didn't tear because he pulled up in time. Of course, that meant he also was thrown out at home standing up on Ledee's hit.

In the top of the sixth, Alomar achieved a milestone, actually throwing out Aramis Ramirez trying to steal second base. It was the first time a Dodgers catcher erased a basestealer this season after going 0-for-17, a fact that has Dodger fans clamoring for the promotion of Russell Martin and the demotion of Dioner Navarro.

Now Alomar's inability to run the bases unscathed further complicates the Dodgers catching situation. Although Alomar said he'll be fine by Friday, it was a week between starts the last time he suffered a cramp.

"It's just that I get dehydrated, and when it's cool it's even worse, because I don't realize how much I'm sweating," said the 37-year-old. "I need to really load up on fluids."

The game wasn't only weird for the Dodgers. The Cubs somehow won it even though they lost star first baseman Derrek Lee and reliever Scott Eyre on the same play, a push bunt single by Rafael Furcal leading off the seventh inning.

Eyre made a diving stop and flipped the ball toward first with his glove toward Lee. Furcal, spotting Lee nine inches and 50 pounds, slammed into his right wrist and the first baseman took the worst of it. Although it was called a sprain, X-rays were inconclusive about a fracture. Eyre also had to leave with a bruised knee.

Leading by two runs, the Dodgers had runners on second and third with one out that inning but couldn't deliver the knockout punch. Manager Grady Little asked Baez to pitch the final two innings, and he quickly retired the first two Cubs in the eighth.

But Neifi Perez bounced a single to left and Jones followed with his 50-foot cue-ball tapper that escaped Baez's glove twice.

"It had crazy backspin or something, I don't know, it hit my glove here and here and it kept bouncing away," said Baez. "Sometimes you can't have control over that."

Michael Barrett followed with a sharp single to Repko, who took aim at gunning down Perez, although his run only would have cut the lead to 4-3. With plenty of time and a relatively short throw home, Repko threw the ball to, and almost through, the backstop screen, allowing the tying run to take third and the go-ahead runner to advance to second.

"I rushed the throw and ended up losing the game," said Repko. "We definitely should have won that game. I had an opportunity to make the play."

Cedeno followed with a soft liner toward right field. Jose Cruz Jr., in place of the resting J.D. Drew, charged, dived, but could only trap the ball as both runners scored.

"That's baseball. It's a game of inches," said Penny, who scattered nine hits in six innings and struck out seven while walking one. He now has 25 strikeouts and two walks. "They hit them where we weren't."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.