video thumbnail

Guerra takes McCann's liner off the chin

LOS ANGELES -- Closer Javy Guerra's swollen right jaw on Wednesday night was symbolic of a Dodgers bullpen that has some issues.

Guerra survived a Brian McCann line drive off the face and kept pitching, but not very well. He was tagged for a three-run ninth inning and a second loss in two days, a 4-2 setback against the Braves.

The Dodgers plan to recall Double-A starter Nathan Eovaldi when play resumes Friday night and send him to a bullpen in need of reinforcements. Todd Coffey is still on rehab assignment from the disabled list until Sunday. Matt Guerrier is on the DL with a sore elbow. Mike MacDougal lost weight from the flu last week and, with it, enough velocity that management hasn't used him this week, his role usurped by Josh Lindblom.

So when blessed with a lead, manager Don Mattingly keeps using Kenley Jansen in the eighth inning and Guerra in the ninth, but he wouldn't let two losing results with the Braves change the plan.

"I have confidence in the guy," Mattingly said of Guerra, who leads the club with seven saves and three losses. "If he has trouble, then we'll get him in a different spot. At this point, I'm not getting into a big closer thing. After two outings, if you think I'm going to flip-flop things, I'm not."

Nor would Mattingly second-guess himself for allowing Guerra to remain in Wednesday night's game after the wicked liner that left the closer with a face as swollen as a losing boxer.

"I would have [removed him], honestly, but [assistant trainer] Greg Harrel was talking to me, making sure his jaw lined up and nothing was broken," said Mattingly. "Javy was clear-eyed when he looked at me. Twice he said he was OK."

Guerra had tests after the game that ruled out a concussion and said he was given no limitations.

"I saw it coming," he said. "It is what it is. More than anything, I'm just upset."

He said the injury did not compromise his pitching.

"No. Absolutely not," he said. "I've got to get the ball down. If I don't leave it up, it doesn't come back at me. In that situation, we have a chance to win two games and I let the team down two nights in a row."

Guerra, who allowed a pair of ninth-inning runs Tuesday night -- with a Martin Prado triple keying the rally -- came on in the ninth Wednesday night with a 2-1 lead provided by Matt Kemp's 10th home run in the sixth inning.

The inning opened with Prado lining a screamer into right fielder Andre Ethier's glove for the first out. Freddie Freeman lined a sharp single to right and McCann smoked an 0-2 fastball literally back at Guerra.

Allowed to continue without a warmup pitch after a meeting on the mound, Guerra got ahead of Dan Uggla 0-2 before he lifted a single to center to tie the game.

"I told a couple guys he's my new favorite player," McCann said of Guerra. "It didn't even faze him.  I hit it as hard as I possibly could and I don't think it hit any glove. For him to get up and pitch, I don't think too many guys would want to mess with him."

Guerra got ahead of Chipper Jones 0-2 before he singled sharply to right.

"I was like a schoolkid out there," said Jones, who homered on his 40th birthday the previous night.  "That's what you play the game for. It's moments like that. You don't know how many times I've rehearsed that very moment in my backyard, only I was a Dodger. It's indescribable."

Guerra's velocity, which had remained around 94-95 mph even after he was hit, dropped on the next two pitches, the second one lined by Jason Heyward for the fifth consecutive hit and another run. Guerra then was removed and taken to the trainer's room to begin the concussion test.

But not until he was booed by the home fans as he came off the mound.

"These are not my fans, but I was a little disappointed that they booed him," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. "This guy took one off the face and tried to stay in there to save the game. They booed him coming off the field.  You've got to give the guy credit for some courage there."

The result took the spotlight away from two deserving Dodgers, Kemp and starting pitcher Ted Lilly.

Kemp tied Gary Sheffield's club record for the most home runs in the month of April with his Major League-leading 10th. Sheffield did it in 2000. Kemp also broke his tie with Ethier for the big league lead with his 23rd RBI and raised his Major League-leading batting average to .449.

Lilly allowed one run on three hits while making 79 pitches in seven innings. Brandon Beachy, who came into the game with the lowest ERA among qualifying pitchers in the Majors, allowed two runs on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings. He now leads the Majors with a 0.90 ERA.

MLB.com Comments