© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
07/15/07 9:44 PM ET
Dodgers complete San Francisco sweep
Tomko shines in LA's 11th straight win at AT&T Park
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Brett Tomko got the better of Barry Bonds over and over again Sunday. Considering the contrasting paths those two careers have taken, it was impossible to argue with Tomko's explanation. "That's why baseball is a crazy game," he said. The Dodgers had just completed a series that further proved Tomko's analysis. They beat the Giants, 5-3, for a series sweep that ran their AT&T Park win streak to 11. Demoted earlier this year from the starting rotation and exiled to an unhappy life as an ineffective long reliever, Tomko was thrust into a substitute start for the disabled Randy Wolf. It was Tomko's first start in seven weeks and after five effective innings (one earned run) became his first win since May 9. San Francisco fans made the former Giant feel right at home, booing Tomko during introductions. Then came a 30-pitch first inning with the Giants scoring two unearned runs on a Jeff Kent error. But Tomko kept his cool, unveiled a cutter the Giants weren't expecting and nursed five innings, or as many has he had thrown in the previous 2 1/2 weeks. Meanwhile, the Dodgers offense, which hit .376 in the series, figured out all kinds of ways to score more runs than the Giants. And not always easy ways. They had four hits in the first inning, but scored only on Kent's sacrifice fly. They pulled off two squeeze bunts, although they needed an umpire's ruling of obstruction on Giants starter Noah Lowry to get a run on one of them. Their biggest blows were triples by Matt Kemp (three hits, two runs) and Rafael Furcal, the latter breaking a 3-3 tie. Still, even from the least expected sources, the Dodgers win with their pitching. It was Tomko, but it was also four innings of relief from Eric Stults, Joe Beimel, Jonathan Broxton and Takashi Saito, the latter rebounding from consecutive blown saves and ending the game by retiring Bonds. Retiring. Bonds. An interesting concept and one that will get more play in light of this series, when Bonds looked every bit his 42 years (43 in nine days). He went 0-for-5 with a Beimel strikeout in this game and 0-for-12 in this series with three strikeouts and three double plays. He walked three times, but none intentionally as Dodgers pitchers went right after him. Manager Grady Little said the Dodgers caught Bonds at a good time, mentioning Henry Aaron's all-time home run record that Bonds is chasing. The implication is that Bonds seems to be so focused on getting the record and his offensive approach no longer seems willing to accept anything less, which turns him into a batter that can be pitched to. Tomko popped him up with two on in the first inning on a cutter and in the fifth with two out and a runner on third. In between, Bonds flied to center. "He's definitely not the Barry he was four years ago," said Tomko. "But he's still dangerous." Beimel, a master Bonds neutralizer (1-for-14 against him), fanned Bonds on three pitches after inheriting runners on first and second from Stults. Then Saito, whose walk of Bonds on Saturday turned into the tying run, induced another popup of Bonds for his 24th save, matching last year's total. Bonds chose not to praise the Dodgers' game plan, instead calling himself "an embarrassment" in a postgame outburst. All-Star catcher Russell Martin, who quarterbacked the pitching staff through another tough win while rapping out three more hits in his spare time, gave an honest assessment of Bonds. "This is only my second year out there and I didn't see him the other 17, but he's definitely swinging through a lot of strikes," said Martin, now hitting .317. "Our guys made good pitches. When you pitch tough, it's hard to get hits." Martin said a key to Tomko's success was the use of a cut fastball, something Martin couldn't have predicted before pregame warmups. "It's the first day I ever saw him throw one," Martin said. "But he told me that he wanted to use it and we used it a lot. Give Tomko credit. When something's not working, he made an adjustment." The Dodgers took the lead in the sixth inning, when they hit for Tomko, Furcal tripling in Kemp and scoring on Juan Pierre's squeeze bunt. Then the Dodgers bullpen finished the game with four scoreless innings. Little said Tomko earned another start while Wolf recovers from a shoulder impingement. It will come Friday against the Mets at home, where the fans have been very tough on Tomko. He'll worry about that Friday. "This was definitely nice to have success getting people out," he said. "Especially when you've been through what I've been going through. This was a lot better than what's been going on the last couple of weeks. I had a lot of nerves going, like the first game in Spring Training. But I never really doubted myself as a starter. The wins weren't coming early in the season, but I never felt like I lost it."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.