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Dodgers Run and Accept Gifts from Giants

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What in the holy name of Davey Lopes is going on here? It’s one thing for Dodgers’ starting pitcher Chad Billingsley (W, 1-0) to take third on the fly ball to right field and taking leads off the bases as if he were an everyday player.

“Oh yeah, tagging bases,” Billingsley joked when asked about his running performance. “Just trying to do the little things right. I don’t get a chance to do it often.”

It’s a whole different thing seeing Matt Kemp torch the bases in his own personal track meet to fuel the Dodgers’ 4-3 victory over the Giants.

“It’s one thing we talked about in spring training is being aggressive, stealing bags, trying to get the extra base,” Kemp explained. “That’s what we’ve been doing.”

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Exhibit A: In the sixth inning the Dodgers were trailing 3-1. Kemp led off the inning with a single off of Giants’ starter Jonathan Sanchez (L, 0-1). Marcus Thames hit a chop-grounder to third base. Under normal circumstances everyone would be content with Kemp getting on second base. Apparently first-base coach Lopes and Kemp weren’t.

Kemp took off on the pitch and didn’t stop until he slid safely into third base.

“That’s an instinct thing,” Kemp grinned. “My instincts were on point tonight.”

All of this proved to be what the Dodgers needed since James Loney hit a sacrifice fly to left field scoring Kemp. Had Kemp been merely content to take second, he would’ve been forced to stay put.

And had Kemp been merely content to take second, the ensuing rally wouldn’t have ensued, as it were.

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Rod Barajas singled. Aaron Miles singled. And at that point the Giants’ gift giving from Thursday night continued: third baseman Pablo Sandoval overthrew first baseman Brandon Belt, the ball hitting the dugout fence sending Barajas to third and Miles to second.

Sanchez decided he would join in the charity drive. Pinch hitter Hector Gimenez’ bunt down the third baseline went through Sanchez’s hands sending Barajas (a.k.a the tying run) home and Sanchez to the bench.

Our old friend Guillermo Mota relieved Sanchez and gave up an RBI single to Rafael Furcal for the winning run, the 4-3 lead.

“Got a little luck in there - got a couple of hits that we don’t really count on - but it worked out for us,” Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly said.

This was all accomplished after Giants’ rookie Belt hit his first Major League homer straight down the pike over the centerfield wall to give the Giants the 3-1 lead in the fourth inning - the only real trouble Billingsley was in all night.

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The Dodgers’ relievers pitched three innings of shutout ball, however Blake Hawksworth had a some tense moments with the bases loaded in the seventh inning until he struck Buster Posey out. Matt Guerrier had a pretty uneventful eighth which led to Jonathan Broxton easily retiring the side in order in the ninth inning to notch his second save.

“He’s throwing the ball good,” Mattingly said. “Last year is gone. It’s a whole new year.”

This in addition to last night’s performance may dispel those jaded cynical douches (namely me.) Even Mattingly emphasized it when talking about Kemp who doubled in Billingsley in the second inning for the game's first run.

“You know, we talk about Matt like everything’s bad,” Mattingly remarked. “This guy is pretty damned good. Matt’s working pretty hard.”

It shows.

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“Davey’s helped a lot out on the base paths and we continually learn everyday about running bases,” Kemp explained. “Sometimes you’ve got to chances.”