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Lessons to Be Learned in Dodgers Win

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There were a couple of lessons to be had in the Dodgers’ 8-5 victory over the San Diego Padres: always take outs when they are given to you, and it’s never over until the 27th out is secured.

The first lesson the Dodgers delivered to Padres’ starter Tim Stauffer in the second inning. Stauffer loaded the bases in that inning with one out. As bleak as that may seem, Stauffer did have Dodgers' starter Hiroki Kuroda in the batter's box. But Kuroda decided to play some tricks.

“I had a bunt sign with a full count - if it was a strike I was going to bunt it,” Kuroda said through interpreter Kenji Nimura. “But the other pitches I didn’t get any bunt sign.

“I pretended I was going to bunt because if I was the pitcher and the opposing pitcher was going to bunt, I would probably not throw in the strike zone. I figured that’s what he was going to do.”

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The genius of Kuroda figured Stauffer out. Kuroda did get the walk giving the Dodgers the 1-0 lead with only one out. At the very worst if Kuroda laid down the bunt, the Dodgers would have taken a 1-0 lead with two out. That one-out difference came into play since the next batter Justin Sellers hit a fly ball to center field. Had there been two out, the inning would have been over. Instead Aaron Miles scored for the Dodgers' 2-0 lead, and the inning continued on.

Stauffer walked the next three batters bringing in two more runs before making way for reliever Anthony Bass. On the first pitch Bass made, Ethier hit it for a grand slam putting the exclamation point on the lesson.

In all the Dodgers received seven walks in the second inning, the first time they have done in the divisional era since 1969 according to Elias Sports Bureau.

“They have a good pitching staff over there,” Manager Don Mattingly said. “Usually they are going to force you to beat them. Tonight I don’t know what happened. [Stauffer] just kind of lost his groove.”

Apparently the entire pitching staff lost their groove issuing 12 walks to the Dodgers, their most in a game since April 21, 1999 and most in a nine-inning game since May 24, 1981.

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So children. If a team is handing you an out on a silver platter, just take it.

The second lesson was it’s never over until it’s over. Of course this game was nothing like the September 18, 2006 game between the two teams. There were no four consecutive home runs to send the game to extra innings. It was a little more subtle than that.

It started with a one-out single by Jason Bartlett in the sixth inning off of Dodgers’ starter Hiroki Kuroda. The next batter Jesus Guzman hit a double that sent Bartlett to third, and still things didn’t look dire.

When Kyle Blanks hit the three-run homer and Orlando Hudson followed him with a solo shot of his own, then things started looking a little dicey.

“I should have pitched a lot better than I did today,” Kuroda said. “I was becoming too cautious. I didn’t want any more men on base, so I tried to hit the corners. But I threw a couple of missed pitches right down the middle.”

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Getting at least seven runs of support in his last four games after spending the season getting close to none, Kuroda did admit there was something different.

“No matter what kind of situation you’re in, you have to pitch your best,” Kuroda qualified. “But I think the way you pitch differs because of run support. But I don’t want to make any excuses.”

Matt Guerrier added to the tension in the seventh inning when he gave up an RBI double to Guzman to bring the Dodger lead down to 8-5.

Fortunately Kenley Jansen and Javy Guerra with his 12th save shut down the Padres before any further damage could be made.

“They kind of grabbed a little momentum back on us, but at the end of the day the music is playing,” Mattingly said.

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The guy with the bum knee went 3-for-4 with a grand slam in that big second inning, but “there’s nothing to talk about.”

The Dodgers now are 64-70 and have sole control of third place in the NL West. In fact they are six games back of the plummeting San Francisco Giants for second place in the division. With the Giants unable to score runs and the Dodger scoring 6.88 runs per game since Mattingly tinkered with the lineup on August 22, anything is possible.

LA Angels defeat Seattle Mariners 13-6. The Angels ameliorated what looked to be a dire situation after the lost the opening game 5-3. Fueled by Mike Trout’s two homers early on that scored four, the Angels knocked light-throwing Anthony Vasquez by the fifth inning. The Angels scored eight runs in that fifth inning.

As spectacular as things were for the Angels, all it did was allow them to tread water. With the Texas Rangers shutting out the Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 the Rangers maintained their 3 ½ game lead over the Angels in the division.

TONIGHT’S ACTION

San Diego Padres at LA Dodgers. 12:10 p.m. FS Prime Ticket, AM 790 KABC.

LA Angels at Seattle Mariners. 7:10 p.m. FSWest, AM 830 KLAA.