Dodgers unable to outlast Rockies
LA rallies, but Hernandez allows go-ahead runs in 14th inning
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers didn't want to let their three-game losing streak end. They hung on for a grueling five hours and six minutes, through 14 innings of back and forth baseball, but in the end, four consecutive wins just wasn't meant to be.
Roberto Hernandez, who was the sixth reliever used by manager Grady Little, gave up three runs in the 14th inning as the Rockies snapped the Dodgers' winning streak and jumped back into third place in the National League West with a 7-4 victory on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.
"Well, it is tough to go out there and battle for 14 innings and come up short like that, but we have to move on," Little said. "We have to turn the page on this game tonight, because at one o'clock tomorrow, we're going to start again."
The marathon was the longest of the season for the Dodgers, and it could have been over a lot earlier, but Los Angeles was unable to capitalize on three separate opportunities to score runs.
In the eighth inning, the Dodgers cut the lead to one after Matt Kemp drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third on an error by Garrett Atkins at third base. With runners on first and third and no outs, Olmedo Saenz, who was 0-for-4 in the game, couldn't deliver the big hit, grounding into a double play that scored Kemp but stifled the rally.
The Dodgers, however, kept the inning alive when Russell Martin walked, then stole second and scored on a single by Shea Hillenbrand to tie the game.
In the 11th inning, James Loney walked and advanced to second on a groundout by Rafael Furcal, setting the table for Juan Pierre with two outs. Pierre, however, grounded out, sending the see-saw battle into the 12th inning.
In the 12th, Hillenbrand, who had four hits and two RBIs in the game, led off with a single, but was thrown out trying to advance to second on a ball in the dirt, ending the potential rally.
The Dodgers, once again, struggled with runners in scoring position, going 2-for-9, while stranding 10 runners on base and leaving the winning run on base four times.
If it wasn't for shortstop Furcal, and a solid performance by the bullpen, the Dodgers wouldn't have been in the position to win the game in the first place. Furcal robbed Kazuo Matsui of a single that would've scored Troy Tulowitzki in the second inning, when he ranged to his left, snagged the grounder, spun and threw to first in time to get Matsui.
Then in the 11th inning with the bases loaded and one out, Furcal came up big again, fielding a one-hopper up the middle and firing home to start a 6-2-5 double play to end the inning.
Chad Billingsley, who hasn't won in his last five starts, did his best to keep the Dodgers close despite being on a tight pitch count. According to Little, Billingsley was being watched closely because he had gone over the 100-pitch mark in his last four outings.
Billingsley gave up three runs on eight hits while striking out four in five innings. He gave up two runs in the second inning before yielding a solo homer to Cory Sullivan in the fifth.
"I just got behind the count a little today," Billingsley said. "Sullivan hit that homer on a cutter. I can't do much about that. I felt good. I could've gone another inning, but it was Grady's call, and I have no say in that."
Kemp got the Dodgers on the board in the first inning with his eight homer of the season, a line shot into the right-center field bleachers.
Rockies starter Franklin Morales, making his Major League debut, looked like a veteran on the mound, shutting the Dodgers down for 5 1/3 innings, allowing the lone run on just five hits while striking out four.
Mark Hendrickson, Joe Beimel, Scott Proctor, Jonathan Broxton and Rudy Seanez combined for seven innings of relief, allowing just one run on six hits before Hernandez (0-2) gave up three in the 14th.
With the loss, the Dodgers dropped to 7 1/2 games behind the National League West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks, and they are now 2 1/2 games back of the Phillies and Padres in the NL Wild Card race.
Jayson Addcox is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.