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No Ninth Inning Lead Is Safe for Dodgers

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Tell me if you’ve heard this story before. The Dodgers go into the ninth inning with a slim 4-3 lead. They bring in their closer All-Star closer Jonathan Broxton who whether by errors, walks or hits blows the save and the opponent gets a 5-4 win.

Well in his first closing opportunity of spring training, that’s exactly what Broxton did against the Angels. The most disconcerting part of this outing wasn’t the blown save itself but that it was done when the Angels had long taken their starters out of the game.

“Well we’ve got to make a play for him too,” manager Don Mattingly responded. “He’s out of the inning really. So Broxton’s fine for me.”

Now this may not be a recurring theme since the Dodgers actually had a lead going into the ninth inning.

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That Dodgers’ left-handed starter Ted Lilly didn’t have his command was evident as he gave leadoff batter Maicer Izturis a three-ball head start. Izturis earned a walk on five pitches, advanced to third on Bobby Abreu’s single and scored on Torii Hunter’s double.

Angels’ starter Ervin Santana had a similar problem allowing a walk to leadoff batter Rafael Furcal. The defense behind Santana let him down though when on Andre Ethier’s double up the middle centerfielder Peter Bourjos bobbled the ball allowing Furcal to score.

Similarly in the third inning after back-to-back singles by Furcal and Tony Gwynn, Jr. to lead off the inning and Ethier’s fly ball to center sent Furcal to third, Gwynn stole second base during Matt Kemp’s at-bat. Catcher Bobby Wilson overshot his throw to second as Furcal came running home.

Despite these hiccups by the Angels defense, Santana was in command and economical in his five innings of work making only 69 pitches while striking out five hitters - among the hitters was Kemp twice on a steady diet of sliders down and away.

But Lilly wasn’t so fortunate. His “Wild Thing” evening continued into the second inning as he threw six consecutive pitches outside of the strike zone with Bourjos being the beneficiary of the walk to lead off the inning. Hoping to atone for his error in the top of the inning, Bourjos reached second on a wild pitch and stole third base during Izturis’ at-bat. On the next pitch Izturis struck a single to left field giving the Angels the 2-1 lead.

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While he minimized the damage, Lilly lasted only four innings making 80 pitches.

“He was rough today,” Mattingly said. “I knew he was frustrated. Usually Teddy probably throws the ball where he wants more than that.”

The Dodgers finally took the lead for the first time in the game after the Angels made all their defensive replacements thanks to doubles by Kemp and Juan Uribe and a single by Rod Barajas.

Anaheim Ducks defeat Colorado Avalanche 5-4. Teemu Selanne has a five-point night as the Ducks hang on to the victory.

TONIGHT’S ACTION

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LA Kings at Edmonton Oilers. 6:30 p.m. FS Prime Ticket, AM 1150 KTLK.

LA Dodgers at LA Angels. 7:05 p.m. FSWest, AM 790 KABC (Dodgers Radio), AM 830 KLAA (Angels Radio).