Ely on short end of pitchers' duel
Dodgers righty's homecoming spoiled in tough loss
CHICAGO -- As a devout White Sox fan, Jack Ely hates the Cubs so much he wouldn't come to Wrigley Field to see his son pitch for the Dodgers on Thursday, when John Ely's excellent rookie adventure hit a homecoming speed bump.
Ely took a shutout into the eighth inning, but came away a 1-0 loser as the Dodgers suffered their second shutout loss of the series. The run scored on eighth-inning extra-base hits by left-handed hitters Mike Fontenot and Tyler Colvin that got past rookie right fielder Xavier Paul in the slice of foul territory near the Dodgers' bullpen.
Ely's record dipped to 3-2 with his fifth consecutive quality start and his ERA is now 3.00. Manager Joe Torre was asked if Ely showed any signs of nervousness pitching in front of family and friends.
"I can't tell. He was his usual jumpy self and that's been his trademark," Torre said of the energetic Ely, who came to the Dodgers from his hometown White Sox in the Juan Pierre trade. "He was pumped up obviously when he came into the dugout, giving fist pumps that almost broke your knuckle, consistent with every start."
For all his outward emotion, however, Ely appears unflappable and not intimidated by his rapid rise, whether he's making his Major League debut in New York, pitching in front of a sellout at Dodger Stadium or with a large section cheering for an opponent at venerable Wrigley Field -- fortunately, with the wind blowing in.
"I've been pretty focused," said Ely, charged with one run on four hits in 7 1/3 innings. "Everything is becoming routine for me and that's the way I like it."
Meanwhile, with a chilly wind blowing in from left field and Manny Ramirez and Rafael Furcal taking off a day game after a night game, the Dodgers could threaten Ted Lilly, who hurled seven scoreless innings and picked up a no-decision, only once in the fifth, when Paul popped up with the bases loaded to end the rally.
The only other Cubs threat came in the fourth and ended when Reed Johnson made a running shoestring catch of Kosuke Fukudome's sinking liner to save the run and end the inning. Johnson, quite a contrast defensively in place of Ramirez, also ran down Jeff Baker's bid for extra bases on the warning track in the fifth inning; Paul held on to Lilly's foul fly while tripping over the Dodgers' bullpen mound in the third inning; and Blake DeWitt took a page from a football tip drill, deflecting Starlin Castro's line drive and making a diving catch before he hit the ground in the sixth.
But it was Paul's inability to cut off the two extra-base hits that drew the postgame scrutiny.
"The first one [by Fontenot, inserted earlier in the top half of the inning after Baker was taken out with an eye problem], I tried to cut it off, but it hit the lip [where the grass and dirt meet] and went in the other direction," said Paul, who reached for the ball and lost his glove when it hit the brick wall. "Mike's from my hometown and he can run, so I was trying to keep him from getting to third and he got there anyway. If I wait till it gets to the corner, he'll make third anyway. So it was sort of do-or-die.
"The second one, it had a tough spin and I tried to play it off the wall and it hopped in front of me and got by me. To me, they were two tough plays, and I tried to do everything I could to keep them in front of me and came out on the wrong end."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.