Furcal's blast helps Dodgers snap skid
Offense awakens against Reds to overcome LA's 'pen woes
CINCINNATI -- In a complete reversal of approach and outcome, the Dodgers on Thursday scored runs and won a game.
Coming off three consecutive shutout losses for the first time since 1966, they got four hits from rookie Delwyn Young and a game-winning home run in the 11th inning from Rafael Furcal, the 5-4 victory over the Reds snapping the Dodgers' losing streak at six games and lifting sagging spirits in the clubhouse.
"We've been in kind of a rut," said manager Grady Little. "Maybe this will get us going."
Little shuffled the lineup again and implied more changes were looming if results didn't improve. He indefinitely demoted Juan Pierre to seventh in the order, rested veterans Luis Gonzalez and Nomar Garciaparra and gave Young his second Major League start. Young went 4-for-4 with a run scored and an eighth-inning double, during which his calves cramped up because of dehydration and forced him from the game.
"It's a big win, and I hope we can gather some momentum from this," said Young, who was walking fine after the game.
His double set up the tying run that Ramon Martinez would drive in, the second time in as many innings that the Dodgers would pull even. They battled like that from the first inning, when they snapped a streak of 28 consecutive scoreless innings with Jeff Kent's sacrifice fly. Martinez and Russell Martin also drove in runs with sacrifice flies.
Brett Tomko let a pair of early leads slip away, but battling through six innings in 95-degree heat, he qualified for a quality start by allowing three runs, two on Alex Gonzalez's two-run homer with one out in the second. Tomko kept the Reds scoreless over the next 4 2/3 innings.
"I wish I had that slider back, but it's been a rough stretch, and [Furcal] hit that home run and we've got a few smiles in here," said Tomko. "We won, we didn't lose, so there's a better feeling. It ended up being a decent day."
The skeptics, however, figured the Dodgers had found another way to lose when reliever Joe Beimel came on in the seventh inning to face Ken Griffey Jr. with runners on the corners and two outs, and balked in the go-ahead run.
Beimel contended that home-plate umpire Paul Emmel was thrown off by the left-hander's unconventional pickoff move, but Little afterward said Beimel altered his normal move and Emmel's call was correct.
The maligned Reds bullpen, however, had a big say in the result. The Dodgers tied it again off Jared Burton in the eighth and won it off Victor Santos in the 11th, Furcal launching his fifth home run 427 feet to right-center field.
"For me, it's been a strange year," said Furcal, who has been limited in all aspects of his game since spraining an ankle in Spring Training. "I haven't been getting hits with runners in scoring position, so I was just trying to get a hit. I swing hard, good contact and the ball carried pretty good."
Furcal had returned to the leadoff spot after a one-game trial for Pierre ended Wednesday night with an 0-for-4 and a meeting with the manager, who informed him of the lineup change that included moving Martin (3-for-6 Thursday) up to second in the order. Pierre didn't like it, but accepted the reasoning.
"I'll just go out and play the game, wherever I am in the lineup, if I'm in the lineup," he said. "Sometimes you're good, sometimes you're bad. I came here to get on base and score runs and haven't done it as well this year. You have to look yourself in the mirror. I've just been inconsistent and this is a crucial time. Patience is running out and I'm the first glimpse of it."
While the Reds bullpen suffered a pair of blown saves and a loss, the Dodgers bullpen followed Tomko with five innings, allowing only the run that scored on Beimel's balk (charged to Rudy Seanez). Scott Proctor pitched two scoreless innings for his first win as a Dodgers hurler, while Takashi Saito got save No. 28 with a game-ending double-play grounder from Gonzalez.
"This was a big team win," said Proctor, obtained last week from the Yankees for games like this one. "We executed a lot on offense today and that's the key, just don't try to do too much. Our big guys have not been playing the way they're capable of, but that's baseball."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.