On a night populated by potentially disturbing developments relating to the health of starting pitcher Brad Penny and outfielder Andruw Jones, rookie Blake DeWitt gave the Dodgers what they needed most -- just a lousy single.
DeWitt completed a well-executed at-bat when he grounded an opposite-field, bases-loaded single through the left side of the infield in the bottom of the ninth inning, scoring Russell Martin with the game-winning run in a 6-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds before 34,669 Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
Earlier, DeWitt hit the third consecutive RBI single the Dodgers pieced together in a three-run fifth inning that tied the score, 5-5. Matt Kemp had one of those RBI singles, punctuating a game in which he went 4-for-4 and had two outfield assists while playing center field.
After the game, manager Joe Torre said that Jones, who did not start Monday night because of a sore right knee, had an MRI exam during the day. Torre said the MRI showed some fluid in the knee and a soft tear in the cartilage. He said that Jones wouldn't play at least until Friday, at which point he will be re-evaluated.
Penny, who gave up five runs and nine hits and didn't have an easy inning except for the sixth, saw his ERA climb to 5.34. He was held back a day because of a sore right arm, but Torre wouldn't commit to saying that he felt Penny is injured.
"My answer is I don't know," Torre said. "I hope there's nothing wrong with him. I hope that's not the reason [for Penny's erratic outing.]"
What the Dodgers (23-21) did have to feel good about was the performances of Kemp and DeWitt. Kemp, who threw out Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo at third base to complete an 8-5 double play in the fourth inning and nailed Ken Griffey Jr. trying to stretch a single into a double in the fifth inning, took over the Major League lead with seven assists.
Penny, who fell behind 4-0 in the third inning after allowing a two-run homer to Adam Dunn, managed to keep the Dodgers close despite clearly lacking consistent stuff and command. The Dodgers trailed, 5-2, entering the fifth, but got consecutive RBI singles from James Loney, Kemp and DeWitt.
While starting pitching has been an issue for the Dodgers, the bullpen was fine, as Joe Beimel, Jonathan Broxton and Takashi Saito (2-1) combined to pitch three scoreless innings, yielding only one hit.
That effort put the Dodgers in position to win.
Martin greeted Reds reliever David Weathers (1-3) in the bottom of the ninth inning with an infield single and advanced to second on shortstop Paul Janish's throwing error. Jeff Kent moved Martin to third base with a ground ball to second for the first out of the inning. Loney was intentionally walked.
After Reds pitching coach Dick Pole visited the mound, manager Dusty Baker elected to intentionally walk Kemp to set up a double play or a force at any base and also so the left-handed Weathers could face the left-handed DeWitt.
DeWitt beat the strategy with an at-bat better than his years. The 22-year-old rookie third baseman dueled the 38-year old Weathers for six pitches, fouling the fifth pitch off his front foot before poking a 2-2 down-and-away fastball through the infield.
In a season with more questions than answers, DeWitt has been, in Torre's words, "a godsend."
"The kid has the ability to use the whole field, and that's his biggest advantage," Torre said. "I thought his first swing, where he missed, was forced. But the rest of his at-bat was very poised, which is very uncharacteristic for someone with his limited experience."
DeWitt said he was fortunate to be the player Baker and Weathers elected to pitch to.
"You can't blame them for going around Loney or Kemp," he said. "Who are you going to pitch to?"
As it turns out, it was DeWitt.
"You have to visualize yourself in those situations and be confident and stay with what you do," DeWitt said.
Torre said DeWitt earned it. "I doubt his front foot hurts right now," Torre said.
John Klima is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.