CINCINNATI -- With Dodgers starter Charlie Haeger struggling to locate his knuckleball, manager Joe Torre turned to his de facto sixth starter, Jeff Weaver, who hadn't pitched in nine days. But he didn't show it as he shut out the Reds over 3 1/3 innings in an 11-4 win Saturday against the Reds. "Weaver did a great job," Torre said. "He hung tough." Early on, it looked as if the Dodgers wouldn't need Weaver after they built a 4-0 lead, thanks in part to Manny Ramirez, who homered for the first time since Aug. 11. But after two scoreless innings, Haeger let the lead slip away in the third when the Reds starting making contact with his knuckleball.
"When you stop getting swings and misses -- uh-oh," Torre said. "They seemed to adjust a little bit and started hitting the ball the other way." By the time the damage was done, the Reds had tied the score. As the lead slipped and he began to warm up, Weaver knew he could be called upon at any moment, and he said he used the eight warmup pitches on the mound to help him get ready. His moment came with one out and a runner on in the third. He then gave up a single to Scott Rolen but rebounded to get the next two outs and keep the score tied. For Weaver, working out of jams is nothing new. "I've had some practice this year," Weaver said. "I think being through it before helps slow things down a little bit. You try to execute pitches and get them to chase a few." Weaver (6-4) managed to make it through the fourth with little trouble, but the fifth was a different story. He had to work for nearly every out. After Rafael Furcal had given the Dodgers a 5-4 lead with a solo homer that just cleared the fence in right field, Weaver loaded the bases with no outs. Yet he didn't waver. He got Wladimir Balentien to ground into a fielder's choice, Jonny Gomes to pop up in the infield and Craig Tatum to strike out. "You don't like to put yourself in a situation like that," Weaver said. "It's nice to get out of them." Weaver ran into more problems in the sixth with two outs when he loaded the bases again. This time Torre brought in reliever Ramon Troncoso, who got Rolen to ground out and end the inning. Then the Dodgers' offense made sure their bullpen wouldn't have to worry about blowing the game. In the seventh, the Dodgers had already added two runs on a Juan Pierre single before Matt Kemp made it 10-4 with a towering three-run homer to center. "Kemp put it out of sight," Torre said. "That was it. It was a monster shot." The homer was Kemp's 20th on the season and made him the first Dodgers player to have 20 homers and 20 stolen bases in a season since 2001. "He's got that kind of ability," Torre said. "With this kid, there's a lot of growth there." From there, Ronald Belisario and Guillermo Mota shut down the Reds over the final three innings.
Steve Gartner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.