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Improbable Walk-Off Gives Dodgers Victory over Marlins

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It took a moment to process what was happening on the field in the bottom of the ninth inning. For a team that doesn’t have a bunch of power, the Dodgers had been relying on the home run ball as their source of runs recently. But at this moment they opted to rally culminating in Dioner Navarro’s walk-off RBI single to defeat the Florida Marlins 3-2.

“Obviously you want to win it a little bit earlier in the game, but you need wins like this,” third baseman Casey Blake said. “Good teams get better, get closer and get tougher with ninth inning victories like that.”

It started with Blake marking his return to the team with a leadoff single off of reliever Clay Hensley, the second time in the game the Dodgers got the leadoff man aboard and the fourth hit of the game for the team. Then it got stranger yet after Andre Ethier raked a single to right field that was fumbled by Mike Stanton which allowed Blake to get to third base.

“We caught a break,” Manager Don Mattingly said. “The way they cut the outfield, it’s always wiggling. So you know you got a shot there. The ball just scoots away and we got a chance.”

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Hensley intentionally walked Matt Kemp to load the bases with no outs, and the Marlins opted to bring center fielder Chris Coghlan in to the first base side of second base to form a five-man infield. It was at that point the game was over as Navarro came in to pinch hit.

“I was trying to put the ball in play,” Navarro explained. “Just like I wanted I hit the ball up the middle. Thank god no one caught it.”

And that’s what he did: A single straight up the middle giving the Dodgers their third walk-off win of the season. And as a reward a full sprint tackle by Kemp.

“He’s faster than me,” Navarro said. “I couldn’t go anywhere. I was trying to deke him, but you saw what happen.”

The three hits in the bottom of the ninth doubled their output from the rest of the game. In fact their only offense to that point was a pair of solo two-out homers: the first by James Loney in the second inning, his first since April 6, and Andre Ethier in the sixth inning, his first since May 8.

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“I feel a lot of better just with timing and everything else,” Loney said of his emergence from his early season slump. “I was so focused on getting my swing perfect I got off on my timing. If you don’t have good timing the swing doesn’t matter.”

The Dodgers are now 7-2 when they hit multiple homers in a game.

That Ethier home run was fortuitous since the Marlins finally scratched across a run against starting pitcher Jon Garland with Greg Dobbs’ RBI single. It’s not saying that Garland was sharp because he was quite erratic especially in the early going. He made 24 pitches in the first inning with walks to Hanley Ramirez and Logan Morrison but managed to escape any damage by striking out Dobbs.

“Effectively wild,” Garland described his outing. “It was kind of all over the place.”

Garland was able to get it together as the game kept going.

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“I was able to collect myself and throw more strikes. Kind of kept them off balance, and there were some huge plays for us.”

One play in particular was Blake’s diving grab on a grounder down the third base line by Javier Vazquez in the fifth inning to rob him of a base hit and a potential RBI.

“It was just a reaction,” Blake said. “It was weird because I hadn’t dived in a month, so it kind of came naturally. So I was surprised. I thought I would be hesitant to dive.”

The much heralded Dodger reliever Rubby De La Rosa couldn’t quite get out of a one-out, two-on jam in the eighth inning when Dobbs hit another RBI single to tie the game again. Some alert play by the Dodgers ended the inning when Mike Stanton popped out to first baseman James Loney in foul territory. Gaby Sanchez tagged up third base on the play but never returned to the base when the play was presumed dead. After Loney tossed the ball back to De La Rosa, De La Rosa realized the umpires hadn’t signaled the play dead and threw to third baseman Casey Blake catching Sanchez in a pickle. Blake tossed the ball back to De La Rosa who tagged Sanchez out as he was trying to make his way back to third base. Just your standard DPFO3-3151 play.

“He almost got himself in trouble walking away,” Mattingly said. “But it worked out.”

De La Rosa pitched a better ninth inning retiring the side in order.

“He seemed a little amped up that first inning out there,” Mattingly said. “The second one was a little more settled down and looked a little more like himself.”

LA Angels defeat Minnesota Twins 6-5. The Angels were down 5-0 heading into the top of the eighth inning when their usually anemic offense decided to have an offensive explosion. A three-run homer by Erick Aybar was the highlight of a five-run eighth to tie the game. After Peter Bourjos tripled to lead off the ninth inning, Maicer Izturis singled him home to give the Angels the winning run. Despite giving up two hits, Jordan Walden got the save for the Angels improbable win.

TONIGHT’S ACTION

LA Angels at Minnesota Twins. 4:10 p.m. FOX, AM 830 KLAA.

Florida Marlins at LA Dodgers. 7:10 p.m. FS Prime Ticket, AM 790 KABC.

Chivas USA at Columbus Crew. 4:30 p.m. FS Prime Ticket, AM 690 W Radio (en español).

LA Galaxy at New England Revolution. 5:00 p.m. FSWest, Galavision (en español), AM 1150 KTLK, AM 1330 KWKW (en español).