Late innings in close games for the Dodgers are becoming true adventures, as is just about any road game against the Giants. The two combined for the second consecutive night but the outcome was reversed as the Dodgers rode ninth-inning extra-base hits by Manny Ramirez, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp to a 5-3 win Tuesday night.
"Games are weird when we play in this place," said Kemp.
With the game tied, 3-3, Ramirez led off the top of the ninth inning with his third double of the night.
"They call me double-maniac," said Ramirez, 3-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored. "I set the table now. Ethier is the hitting machine. He's the RBI man."
Ramirez took third on Bob Howry's wild pitch and scored on Ethier's one-out double to center, the culmination of a 10-pitch at-bat that included four two-strike foul balls.
"Ethier was really something," said manager Joe Torre. "He showed a great deal of determination and we needed every bit of it."
Kemp followed with a triple to the deepest part of AT&T Park in right-center to score Ethier.
Broxton, who walked in the tying run in relief of Chad Billingsley when asked by Torre for his third multiple-inning save in his last four appearances, got the win instead.
When Billingsley walked Aaron Rowand to put runners on first and second with one out, "that pretty much forced my hand," said Torre. "Bills at that point got tired. It was something I didn't want to do with five outs, but I had to commit at that time."
Ohman, signed with a week left in Spring Training, needed nine pitches to retire the top of the Giants batting order for only the third save of his 312-game Major League career. In each of the other two saves, Ohman needed to retire only one batter.
"This was a setup for him," said Torre. "He had the left-handed [Fred] Lewis, [Randy] Winn switch-hitting and [Pablo] Sandoval, who hits right-handers better. He's not afraid of anything, that's for sure. That was big for us. We had the lead and the people on the mound we wanted and it just didn't work. Then to come back is big."
Billingsley pitched 7 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts for the no-decision.
"I didn't have my best stuff, but I got through it," he said. "I made pitches when I had to and the guys made great plays behind me."
Two of them were double plays. With one out and Giants on second and third, Emmanuel Burriss' line shot was gloved by James Loney, who doubled Travis Ishikawa off third base. In the seventh, after a leadoff pinch-single by Nate Schierholz, Lewis struck out and Schierholz was caught stealing when Rafael Furcal shorthopped Russell Martin's throw and slapped the tag.
Torre said before the game he was hoping not to use Broxton the way he eventually did, but with Cory Wade on the disabled list (he pitched a scoreless inning in a Tuesday night Minor League game) and Hong-Chih Kuo shaky, Torre has occasionally used rookie Ronald Belisario as his setup man (as he did Monday night) or more often gone without one, trying to bridge directly from his starter to his closer (as he's tried in Billingsley's last two starts).
It worked last week in Houston, and he got away with it Tuesday night in a game that, until the winning rally, the offenses consisted mostly of mistakes.
Two of the Dodgers' three runs were unearned and the third scored on a bases-loaded walk to Loney for a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning. The Giants scored on a Furcal error, an infield single (that second baseman Orlando Hudson stopped to prevent another run from scoring) and an eighth-inning bases-loaded walk to Rich Aurilia by Broxton.
Having given away runs Monday night, the Dodgers defense tightened up to take one away in the first inning. After Winn walked, Bengie Molina lined a double to center. Center fielder Kemp took the rebound off the fence, quickly whirled to cutoff man Furcal, who threw a long strike to catcher Martin for the tag on Winn.
Then it was the Giants defense giving away a run as left fielder Lewis dropped Ethier's fly ball for a two-base error. Ethier tagged to third on Kemp's flyout and was singled home by Loney.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less