This was a Dodger game that had everything. There was a pitching duel between a pair of lefty Cy Young winners, Cliff Lee vs. Clayton Kershaw. There was a near Dodger bullpen meltdown that was barely avoided, followed by an actual bullpen meltdown. Then there was an amazing Dodger rally, spurred on by a Phillie’s bullpen meltdown from their million dollar closer Jonathon Papelbon. The two teams battled in what was the longest game of the year for the Dodgers. Finally Matt Kemp won it in the bottom of the 12th inning with a walk-off two-run home run. His first home run since April 30. The Dodgers finally snap their four game losing streak, and hopefully this sparks the Dodgers out of their month and a half funk.
Clayton Kershaw pitched eight strong innings, allowing just one run on five hits, no walks, and seven whiffs, but left with a no-decision, because he was facing another Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, who matched him zero for zero. Cliff Lee pitched eight innings allowed just one run on two hits, one walk, and four whiffs. The two teams were deadlocked at 1-1 after nine frames.
The Dodgers scored their first run in the bottom of the second when Juan Rivera blasted his fourth home run of the season. The bomb was a high arching blast that bounced off the top of the wall and went over into the pavilion. It looked like left fielder John Mayberry had a play, and came close to catching it, sticking his glove up over the wall, but couldn’t grab it. Dodgers lead 1-0.
The Phillies would tie it in the top of the fourth, on a single from Shane Victorino, a stolen base, and a Carlos Ruiz RBI single to score rat boy, and tie it up. Matt Kemp’s throw to the plate was online, but A.J. Ellis was in the wrong position to far away to apply the tag on Victorino, as he sidesteps AJ’s potential tag and scores.
That was it with the two starters in the game. Both pitchers dueled through eighth innings. In the top of the sixth, the Phillies had consecutive singles from Chase Utley, and Carlos Ruiz ton threaten, but Hunter Pence grounds into a force out.
Move to the top of the ninth with the game still tied. Kenley Jansen comes in the top of the ninth, gets the first two outs, and then it was like De Ja Vu from the other night. Pinch-hitter Ryan Howard singles to right. Placido Planco walks. John Mayberry walks to load the bases. Finally Jansen gets out of it inducing pinch-hitter Jason Pride to fly out to Hairston.
Antonio Bastardo replaces Lee in the bottom of the ninth. With one out, Mark Ellis singles. Charlie Manuel makes a pitching change and brings in Kyle Kendrick, who is normally a starter. Matt Kemp whiffs on a called third strike. He wasn’t happy about it either. He curses the ump under his breath as he walks away. Another pitching change, enter Philly noob lefty Jeremy Horst. Andre Ethier pinch-hits for Juan Rivera and singles through the hole in right. Another pitching change. Enter Michael Schwimmer, who is no friend to the Dodgers. (Pun) He intentionally walks Hairston and the bases are loaded. Due up is resident automatic out, Juan Uribe. Mattingly goes to the bench and calls up….James Loney? Yes. I guess Mattingly is employing the lesser of two evils strategy here. Loney predictably whiffs swinging on a ball out of the strike zone. Did you really think Loney would deliver with runners on base? Oh come now.
The game continues. Top of the tenth. Enter Javy Guerra who is back from the bereavement list. We are happy to report that Javy’s dad is doing just fine. Thank God. Javy does blow the tie though. Although I can’t say anything bad about Javy. His Dad is ill, and I don’t think his mind was on the game. He’s a warrior for even pitching with his Dad in the hospital. Well, Rollins walks. Victorino sacrifices Rollins over to second. Ruiz walks. Chase Utley is intentionally walked, and the bases are loaded. The ultra annoying Hunter Pence singles in Rollins and Utley to put the Phillies ahead 3-1. Scott Elbert has to come in and get Pierre to ground into a double play to get out of it.
Jonathan Papelbon the Phillies closer comes into close up the bottom of the tenth. However the Dodgers would battle back and tie, using the same scratch and claw style that has defined their rallies.
Luis Cruz doubles on a line drive down the left field line. AJ whiffs. Bobby Abreu pinch-hits for Elbert and bloops a single into shallow left, Cruz scores to cut the lead to 3-2! Abreu shows us he still has some wheels as he steals second barely safe ahead of the tag. Ballsy base running, but I like it! Tony Gwynn hits a little blooper that travels four feet from the plate, and he beats it out! Runners at the corners. Mark Ellis whiffs, and the Dodgers are down to their last out. However Bison is at the plate. Here we go, it’s Jonathan Papelbon versus. Matt Kemp. A marquee match-up. Kemp hits a grounder to the hole at short. Rollins makes a nice stop and throws from his heels. Bison is sprinting down the line on his rehabilitated hamstring. The game is on the line. Run Bison run! Bison beats the throw by a hair! Abreu scores the tying run! Thank God!
The entire Phillies team argues, but to no avail. Tie game! Ethier flies out, and the game goes on. Jamey Wright nearly blew the game in the top of the 12th, but just barely gets out of it. Bottom of the 12th. Mark Ellis walks. Then up comes Matt Kemp. Home run. Dodgers win!
Kemp is mobbed at the plate, as the Dodgers celebrate. We needed that win so badly. The Dodgers will not lose another game in the standings. This was the longest game of the season, lasting four hours and twenty-five minutes. Clayton Kershaw made 120 pitches, which was the second most he has made in his career. The Dodgers and the Phillies combined to use 13 pitchers. The Phillies used Cliff Lee, Antonio Bastardo, Kyle Kendrick, Jeremy Horst, Michael Schwimmer, Jonathan Papelbon, and the losing pitcher Jake Diekman. The Dodgers used Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Javy Guerra, Scott Elbert, Josh Lindblom, and the winning pitcher Jamey Wright.
The Dodgers are off tomorrow, and then embark on a grueling ten game road-trip that begins in New York against the Mets for three games. After the Dodgers will play four in St.Louis, and three games in San Francisco. This is a road-trip that may either knock the Dodgers out of contention, or put them back into first place. We’ll see what happens.
This was a great game, and we really needed this, so we could go on the road with some confidence. Could this be the defining moment that sparks the Dodgers to go on another tear like the one from early in the season? I hope so. Only time will tell. Go Blue.