Wolf delivers gem for Dodgers
LA benefits from rarely seen 'fourth-out rule' in second
PHOENIX -- What does a Major League bench coach do?
On Sunday, Dodgers bench coach Bob Schaefer helped his club steal a run and beat the D-backs, 3-1, finishing a 4-3 trip with the home opener Monday at Dodger Stadium.
Starting pitcher Randy Wolf did the heavy lifting. He threw a two-hitter over seven-plus innings for his first win in his second Dodgers stint. He gave up hits to the first batter he faced (a Felipe Lopez double) and the last batter (a Chad Tracy single leading off the eighth inning).
Prior to Tracy's hit, Wolf retired 16 consecutive batters, and he finished with five strikeouts. He's 5-1 lifetime at Chase Field and 7-3 against Arizona. Hong-Chih Kuo pitched and fielded his way out of a jam in the eighth and Jonathan Broxton pitched the ninth for his third save.
Wolf bounced back after losing Tuesday in San Diego, when he took a three-hitter into the sixth inning, then allowed hits to the next three batters, who scored.
"I felt that I gave that game away, I made stupid pitches later in the game and I beat myself up about it," Wolf said. "Today, I stuck to my plan. I took the last game hard, should have won that game. Those don't feel good."
Wolf said he didn't have his full arsenal Sunday, his fastball lacking velocity, but he had command of his off-speed pitches and kept Arizona hitters off-balance for a 90-pitch outing.
"Sometimes, you have good stuff in the bullpen and you kind of get away from your strengths because you feel too good," he said. "Today, I had to lock in on my off-speed pitches or it would have been a long day."
If Wolf won the game with his arm, he made the highlights with his bat, starting the strange second-inning play that tied the score with a run awarded when the Arizona defense did not execute the rarely seen fourth-out rule.
Andre Ethier was at third base, Juan Pierre at second, and with one out and the infield drawn in, Wolf lined out to pitcher Dan Haren, who threw to second baseman Felipe Lopez, who tagged out Pierre off second base for the third out of the inning.
But by the time Lopez tagged Pierre, Ethier -- breaking on contact as instructed -- had crossed the plate. The D-backs -- believing the inning was over and not realizing that Ethier's run was live -- left the field without making a play on Ethier at third base. As the teams changed sides, plate umpire Larry Vanover walked over to third-base umpire Charlie Reliford, apparently to discuss the play.
This is where Schaefer stole the run. He noticed the umpires talking and pointed out to manager Joe Torre that the run should score, citing the fourth-out rule, which Torre said Schaefer had talked about during Spring Training.
Torre went out to appeal. And after an umpire huddle, Vanover ruled that Schaefer was right, the Ethier run counted -- even though Ethier had not tagged up -- because there was no appeal play made at third base.
"They got it right," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said after a half-hearted chat with Vanover.
Afterward, umpire crew chief Reliford said the run was not immediately awarded because there was confusion over whether Lopez had stepped on second base before tagging Pierre, even though second-base umpire Dan Iassogna didn't rule Pierre out until he was tagged by Lopez, which the umpires eventually concluded.
"They could have gotten the fourth out with an appeal at third base," Reliford said, "but they didn't do that before leaving the field."
A play at third on Ethier would have been the fourth out of the inning, but it would have taken precedence over the third out because it would have erased a run.
"I had it once in Double-A at Jacksonville  on a bunt that the pitcher caught and doubled the runner off first while the runner scored from third," Schaefer said. "You read about it, you never see it. But it's in the rules."
Torre, who has four World Series rings and 50 years in the game, said he's never seen the play. Ethier was playing catch in right field for the next inning when the run went on the scoreboard.
"It was kind of shocking," Ethier said. "Joe says to run everything out and keep playing, and it paid off. It was like Little League, the last runner just keep running until they tag you out."
The Dodgers scored the second run off Haren in the third inning, Rafael Furcal's leadoff walk cashed in by James Loney's RBI single. In the ninth, Russell Martin led off with a single, and two outs later, was doubled home by Matt Kemp.
Arizona scored in the first inning. One pitch after Wolf thought he struck out Lopez (Vanover disagreed), Lopez doubled, was bunted to third by Chris Young and scored on Stephen Drew's sacrifice fly.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.