Dodgers can't hold on after late rally
Belisario touched for two runs in eighth inning
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Dodgers racked up a season-high of should-haves Monday night.
From fly balls they should have caught to runners they should have thrown out to a game they should have won but lost to the Giants, 5-4.
Through the miracles of official scoring, the Dodgers weren't charged with an error, although defensive misplays contributed to every Giants run -- the three in the first inning off Randy Wolf and the two that won it in the eighth inning off losing reliever Ronald Belisario.
The elements came into play in the first inning of this game, as the winds whipping off the bay played havoc with the flight of batted balls and made on-field communication confusing.
Center fielder Matt Kemp collided with right fielder Andre Ethier and dropped Edgar Renteria's one-out fly ball that was ruled a double. Both players called for the ball as it sliced from right to center, but neither heard the other.
"Because of the wind," said Kemp. "It was pretty crazy tonight with the wind and the noise, but the ball should have been caught by one of us."
"The center fielder takes the ball if we both call for it, but I never heard him," said Ethier. "The wind was making so much noise. And I couldn't look to see if he was there or I lose sight of the ball. I can't assume he's there and back off and let it fall if he's not there."
Kemp then misplayed Randy Winn's line drive into a triple in much the same manner as he did on Jeff Baker on Sunday, wind being a factor at Coors Field and AT&T Park.
"It just took off," said Kemp. "It had a weird little spin and just got away from me. It should have been caught."
With two outs, Aaron Rowand doubled home Winn, and Pablo Sandoval singled home Rowand, as Kemp's throw home was high and wide.
"Matty is a great center fielder and he saves pitchers every game," said Wolf. "I respect the fact he feels he should catch every ball. He's the kind of guy you want out there."
Giants starter Barry Zito made those three runs stand up as he controlled the tempo of the game until the top of the seventh inning when the Dodgers awoke. With one out, Mark Loretta walked and took second when the ball flew out of Zito's hand in mid-windup for a balk. Then Casey Blake, who didn't start Sunday, snapped the shutout with a long home run to right field.
"Sometimes I get tentative against Zito, but this time I figured to heck with it and got aggressive," said Blake, who is tied for the team lead with five homers. "I still don't feel locked in at the plate, but I'm slowing starting to find something."
As were the Dodgers. Juan Pierre, batting for Wolf, followed Blake's homer with a pinch-single, Rafael Furcal walked and Orlando Hudson tied the game with a single that sent Furcal to third. Manny Ramirez, who didn't play Sunday, bounced a single to left to score Furcal, who also didn't play Sunday, for a 4-3 lead.
A year ago when Takashi Saito was the closer, Jonathan Broxton pitched the eighth inning. And when Broxton took over for the injured Saito, the eighth inning went to Hong-Chih Kuo or Cory Wade. Wade's now disabled and Kuo, after a limited spring and a few shaky outings, doesn't seem to have manager Joe Torre's trust.
"Kuo was available," said Torre, "but we decided to stay with Belisario."
Belisario took over for Wolf five nights earlier in Houston, inheriting a 4-4 tie and allowed two runs in the eighth inning of a 6-4 loss.
This time, Torre got a 1-2-3 inning from Belisario in the seventh and sent him back for the eighth. Fred Lewis opened with a single. Renteria, after squaring to bunt on the first pitch, delivered a hit-and-run single on the next pitch to put runners on the corners. One out later, Rich Aurilia hit a tapper about 40 feet down the first-base line, too slow for Belisario to have a play at the plate, but he tried one anyway.
Instead of tagging Aurilia for the sure second out, the rookie tried to scoop the ball with his glove and flip to catcher Russell Martin, but the speedy Lewis scored easily and instead of a runner on second and two outs, it was first-and-second with one out.
Belisario said he never doubted he had a shot at the runner trying to score, but Torre said his only play was to tag the batter.
"I don't think he lost his composure," said Torre. "He just made a bad decision."
Belisario's next pitch to Bengie Molina was wild, moving the runners up a base. Molina then bounced to a drawn-in Blake, who didn't make a clean transfer of the ball from his glove and settled for the out at first base that allowed the Giants to take the lead instead of ending the inning.
"The ball was never in my glove, it was on the heel of the glove," said Blake. "You're used to reaching into the glove and the ball wasn't there. When I got a grip on it, I didn't think I'd have a play at home and I wanted to minimize the damage. I should have made that play. I should make it. Russell wasn't sure we'd get him. I think if I made a strong throw home right away, we'd get him."
So the tying run scored on a ball that traveled 40 feet and the winning run scored on a ball that traveled less than 90 feet.
"It was a weird game," said Blake.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.