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Ethier Comes Through Yet Again in Sloppy Game

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While the bullpen and defensive woes are not breaking news, the Dodgers offense capped by Andre Ethier’s tenth career walk off hit in the tenth inning gave the Dodgers the 6-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks and their first series win.

On a night celebrating the day Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, both teams played a game filled with blooper reel material. The teams combined for four errors, three wild pitches and three passed balls.

Matt Kemp got the blooper reel started when he lost a fly ball off the bat of Chris Young to lead off the second inning that landed between him and a charging right fielder Andre Ethier. It would start a rally for the Diamondbacks as Young stole third during left fielder Gerardo Parra’s at-bat who would strikeout. Catcher John Hester hit a dribbler up the middle that eluded both shortstop Rafael Furcal and Carroll giving the Diamondbacks the 1-0 lead.

Things didn’t get any better after pitcher Dan Haren laid down a sacrifice bunt to send Hester to second. First baseman Conor Jackson came back with a screaming grounder which had Furcal reaching. While Furcal managed to snag it, he tried to make the play at first but threw it into the dugout allowing Hester to score for the 2-0 lead.

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“We’re certainly a better defensive team than that, and I expect we will be,” Torre said.

Fortunately the Diamondbacks’ defense was just as generous when second baseman Tony Abreu bobbled a hard grounder hit by Manny Ramirez to lead off the home half of the inning. James Loney hit a single that sent Manny to third, and during Casey Blake’s at-bat a wild pitch from Haren which had catcher Hester fumbling around allowed Loney to advance to second. But Haren would strike out the side to get out trouble.

The Dodgers bullpen had some excitement when Jeff Weaver came in to relieve Kuroda in the eighth inning gave up a towering homer to Justin Upton to give the Diamondbacks the 4-3 lead.

But it was in the ninth inning when the errors and bullpen collided together to send the game to extra innings.

George Sherrill came in the ninth inning and gave up a leadoff double to Hester. Pinch hitter Augie Ojeda bunted him to third and Sherrill walked Jackson to set the stage. Abreu hit a grounder to Blake at third who couldn’t handle the ball which allowed Hester to score an insurance run to go up 5-3.

“Sherrill needs to get straightened out,” Torre said “He knows that. I’m certainly not going to give up on him.”

In the bottom half of the inning Diamondbacks closer Chad Qualls came in to get the save and walked Furcal to lead off the inning. During Kemp’s at-bat, Qualls threw a wild pitch sending Furcal to second.

After getting Kemp to fly out and Ethier to ground to second, Qualls gave up back-to-back singles to Manny, which scored Furcal to make the score 5-4, and Loney. Perhaps providence was looking down on Blake, but he hit a single to shortstop Stephen Drew who then threw the ball into his dugout scoring Manny and tying the game.

“Even though we make an error like Casey did at third base, it doesn’t stop the guys from grinding away,” Torre said.

After Jonathan Broxton came in the tenth inning and retired the Diamondbacks in order, the familiar script was played out before our eyes. With runners on first and second and Blayne Boyer pitching for the Diamondbacks, Ethier stood in the batter’s box with a pressure that is now familiar to him. Just to add to the excitement catcher Hester committed a passed ball sending the runners to second and third. On the fourth pitch with the outfield drawn in, Ethier hit a fly ball over the head of center fielder Young for the 6-5.

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“It was a perfect scenario,” Torre said.

“It seems like I keep getting the opportunity to win games like that,” Ethier said. “It’s fun.”

Despite having some shaky moments, both Kuroda and Haren pitched into the seventh inning trying to protect a bullpen that was used up in the previous night’s 11 inning affair.

“Kuroda, for not being as sharp as he was last time, he pitched a game as good as he was last time,” Torre said. “It was a courageous outing and his stuff was good.”

“I didn’t have my best stuff,” Kuroda said through translator Kenji Nimura. “Having pitched seven innings, you know that we have a great offense. I was confident that they were going to do something for me.”

It took a while but the Dodgers’ bats came to Kuroda’s aid in the sixth inning and got on the scoreboard when with Loney on first and Manny on third, Blake hit a high chopper up the middle that scored Manny to cut the deficit to 3-1.

Kemp would then power Kuroda out of the loss column with a two run shot 407 feet to deep center field over the glove of a jumping Chris Young to tie the game 3-3 off of reliever Aaron Heilman.

“Everyone is asking me who’s the best player in the league, and I’ve been saying it’s Matt Kemp,” Ethier said. “I get to watch it every day. The guy hits in front of me and plays right beside me, and I get to see some of the stuff he does.”

The question now for the Dodgers is who’s in the bullpen tomorrow. Torre didn’t really seem too concerned with it.

“We’re going to have to figure it out,” he said. “Tonight we spent a lot, but at least it was worth it.”

The win went to Jonathan Broxton, his first of the season, who pitched a one-two-three tenth with a strike out. Chad Qualls and Aaron Heilman got blown saves for the Diamondbacks. Blayne Boyer got the loss with that walk-off Ethier hit.

Matt Kemp’s home run in the seventh marks the third consecutive game for him with a homer. This is the third time he’s done this.

James Loney went 3-for-5 in the game for his fourth consecutive multi hit game.