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Broxton can't seal deal for Dodgers

Broxton can't seal deal for Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- It was Jonathan Broxton yet again Saturday night, surrounded by reporters and struggling to explain another blown save.

This one again dealt a crushing blow to the Dodgers' long-shot chances of sneaking back into the race, the two-run homer in the ninth inning he allowed to Juan Uribe completing the Giants' stunning four-homer, 5-4 comeback win over the Dodgers.

With Jay Gibbons making the most of a spot start in place of Matt Kemp by slugging a three-run homer in a four-run fourth inning, and Ted Lilly cruising with a one-hitter through six innings, the game began to unravel when Buster Posey homered off Lilly leading off the seventh inning.

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When Edgar Renteria homered leading off the eighth inning, Dodgers manager Joe Torre went to the bullpen, even though Lilly still had a three-hitter.

If Octavio Dotel could get the next three batters and finish off the eighth inning cleanly, Torre could hold Hong-Chih Kuo for the ninth.

Kuo saved Friday night's game and Torre has used him on back-to-back days only twice previously this year, rationing his use to avoid a fifth surgery on that bionic elbow. Torre said he wouldn't use Kuo on this second night in two separate innings.

But Dotel served up a home run to the first batter he faced, Pat Burrell, then issued a one-out walk to Freddy Sanchez, and Torre brought in Kuo to get left-handed hitter Aubrey Huff and Posey to finish the eighth.

"I couldn't send Kuo back out there for the ninth. Kuo did what he needed to do," said Torre. "Everybody else struggled."

Of course, that meant somebody other than Kuo would have to save the game, the lead now trimmed to 4-3. Ramon Troncoso, Ronald Belisario, Kenley Jansen and George Sherrill all struggled in their most recent performances, so Torre turned to Broxton.

"Kuo is our closer," said Torre. "But if the game dictates that he needs to pitch in the eighth, that's what we do. Once we used him in the eighth, that took him out of play for the ninth. I felt it was still a no-brainer to put [Broxton] in that situation."

Broxton fell behind Jose Guillen, but struck him out. He fell behind former Dodger Cody Ross, who singled up the middle, shortstop Rafael Furcal stabbing the ball with his glove, spinning 360 degrees and firing a throw that Ross just beat to first.

Then Broxton fell behind Uribe with his 13th consecutive fastball of the inning and flipped a 1-0 slider that hung over the middle of the plate. Uribe launched it over the fence in center field and the Giants dugout erupted.

"I'm assuming [Uribe's] looking for a fastball, he's going to cheat a bit, get the barrel ready, try to catch the fastball out in front," said catcher Rod Barajas. "We threw slider, it didn't break. It just spun, stayed over the middle plate. Obviously, if he was looking for the fastball, he was able to react."

"Well, it just hung, straight down the middle. It didn't move like it should have," said Broxton. "He capitalized on a mistake."

There have been a lot of them lately. Given a two-year contract in the winter, Broxton made the All-Star team in July, but with an ERA of 7.45 that month, he had lost his closer job to Kuo by August. He's blown four of his last seven save opportunities (six on the season) and been scored upon in three of his last five outings.

"This kid right now doesn't have the confidence he has had and will have again," Torre said. "His velocity seems normal. A lot of counts are bad. He's not as comfortable as he needs to be."

The Dodgers had two other opportunities to score. James Loney led off the sixth inning with a shot into the right-field corner, but tripped and fell trying to stretch it into a triple and was tagged out returning to second. Casey Blake followed with a single.

In the ninth, the Dodgers put runners on the corners with another Blake single and a one-out single by Jamey Carroll, but Rod Barajas flied out and pinch-hitter Reed Johnson grounded sharply into a forceout.

"Obviously, this team is ahead of us, we have to beat them and we controlled the game," said Gibbons, who has three homers and nine RBIs in 19 games since being called up from Triple-A.

He said he's considering this a tryout for a future job.

"I live here -- the dream is to keep playing here," he said. "This is the first time in my career I've been a bench player. There's a certain technique. I'm trying to figure it out."

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

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