Torre likes Haeger's aggressiveness

Torre likes Haeger's aggressiveness

CINCINNATI -- Charlie Haeger has no complaints about his first two starts with the Dodgers. After he was the tough-luck loser in his inaugural outing against the Cardinals, Haeger rebounded to earn his first win of the season in a 2-0 win over the Cubs.

"The first one was a little bittersweet, pitching well but losing going against one of the elite starters in [Chris] Carpenter," Haeger said. "I'm happy with both starts."

Haeger will look for his second win of the season Saturday against the Reds. The game will be broadcast on FOX as part of the Game of the Week package, with Thom Brennaman and Eric Karros calling the game.

Haeger has helped Los Angeles stay afloat in its quest for a National League West title as one of the Dodgers' revolving fifth starters.

"It feels good knowing they have the confidence in me to go out and help the team out," Haeger said. "I'm focused on winning and trying to help the team get into the playoffs."

Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he likes Haeger's persistence in sticking with what works.

"The last outing he had, where his knuckleball was better, was a plus but he didn't throw as many strikes, which was a minus," Torre said. "But he still threw it."

And Haeger threw it effectively. In that win against the Cubs, Haeger gave up just three hits over seven innings while relying on his primary pitch.

"He threw it to guys I didn't think he should have thrown it to," Torre said. "But I like that attitude where he doesn't give in to situations."

Haeger has the luxury of being a knuckleball pitcher that teams haven't seen pitch before. Since debuting with the White Sox in 2006, Haeger has bounced around multiple teams. And now he's getting the chance to start.

"Any time they see a knuckleballer, it's probably going to be their first time hitting off a knuckleballer, period," Haeger said. "I think I definitely have an advantage in that aspect."

Haeger said he began throwing the knuckleball during 2004, his first season in the Minor Leagues.

"I threw it as a kid just messing around," Haeger said. "I struggled my first few years with it. I kept working at it and eventually figured it out."

As he's continued to craft the knuckleball pitch, Haeger has relied on the advice of the Red Sox's Tim Wakefield and Dodgers coach Charlie Hough.

"It's been huge," Haeger said.

Torre said Haeger will continue to be in the mix of the rotation as the team moves toward the postseason.

"He's a hot hand," Torre said. "He's pitched well two times in a row now. I trust him at this point. It's going to be [a matter of] whether the knuckleball is working or isn't working. I think we'll know that early."

Pitching matchup
CIN: LHP Matt Maloney (0-2, 6.11 ERA)
At Triple-A Louisville, Maloney went 9-9 with a 3.08 ERA. His latest start was on Sunday at Toledo, where he allowed four runs and six hits over six innings with two walks and seven strikeouts. Maloney made three starts for the Reds and was optioned back to Louisville on June 20.

LAD: RHP Charlie Haeger (1-1, 1.93 ERA)
Haeger, making only his third Major League start, pitched a gem against the Cubs and will remain in the rotation for this game, as Torre said he'd prefer to keep Jeff Weaver in the bullpen. Haeger took a three-hit shutout into the eighth inning and the bullpen held on to preserve his first victory since 2006. Haeger struck out seven.

Tidbits
Hiroki Kuroda will throw a simulated game Saturday. ... The Dodgers are now 20-4 against the Reds since 2006. ... Chad Billingsley was unable to pitch at least six innings Friday for the first time since a start on Aug. 2 against the Braves. ... Billingsley has pitched at least six innings in 21 of 27 starts this season.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FOX

On radio
• KABC 790, KHJ 930 (Español)

Up next
• Sunday: Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 8-7, 2.96) at Reds (Bronson Arroyo, 11-12, 4.43), 10:10 a.m. PT
• Monday: D-backs (Doug Davis, 7-11, 3.75) at Dodgers (Randy Wolf, 9-6, 3.25), 7:10 p.m. PT
• Tuesday: D-backs (Yusmeiro Petit, 3-8, 5.59) at Dodgers (Vicente Padilla, 9-6, 4.86), 7:10 p.m. PT

Steve Gartner in an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.