07/20/08 8:58 PM ET
Dodgers stun D-backs in ninth
Five-run rally off closer Lyon creates tie in NL West standings
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
In so many words, there wasn't a Dodgers player after Sunday's stunning 6-5 comeback win who didn't reveal the most obvious of game plans for beating the Arizona Diamondbacks and pulling back into a first-place tie.
Whether the five-run, six-hit ninth-inning comeback that turned around the rubber game of this showdown series should be credited to what Dodgers hitters did or blamed on what Arizona closer Brandon Lyon couldn't do remains to be seen.
"Right now I feel good about what we're doing as opposed to what they didn't do," manager Joe Torre said. "We have to take this with us to Colorado. They're hot."
The Dodgers won two of three out of the All-Star break despite three rotten outings by their starting pitchers, as Derek Lowe followed in the footsteps of Hiroki Kuroda and Chad Billingsley by pitching like he hadn't picked up a ball in 10 days, which he hadn't.
"That's a good analysis," said Lowe, noting that Arizona scored nine first-inning runs in the series, three against him. "You can write that."
Continuing with the analysis, Arizona has a pair of aces (Dan Haren and Brandon Webb) and no dependable closer, while the Dodgers have no aces and a bullpen so deep that it allowed only one run in 16 innings during the series.
In fact, the Dodgers' injured closer is in Japan and they still can protect a lead (Jonathan Broxton got the save, but just barely), with both wins going to rookies notching their first Major League victories (Cory Wade Friday, Ramon Troncoso Sunday).
"It was nice to be able to steal that one," said Torre, who pushed all the right buttons, from getting five strikeouts in two innings by Troncoso to tabbing newcomer Pablo Ozuna as a pinch-runner and watching him sprint home from first on Matt Kemp's tying double.
The Dodgers came into the game 1-45 when trailing after eight innings. So Torre is hopeful there's a carryover effect from pulling off this kind of win in a game started by a rival ace.
"When we've faced a Webb or a [Jake] Peavy, they have the stuff that you have a tendency to think you can't win the ballgame," Torre said. "But we're battling and that can't do anything but help our confidence."
Haren threw seven scoreless innings Saturday and the Dodgers fell a run short with a two-run ninth against Lyon. Webb allowed only one tainted run over eight innings Sunday, but he needed to throw a complete game to get this win.
The Dodgers' rally was triggered by the rejuvenated Nomar Garciaparra's leadoff double. James Loney (three hits) singled Garciaparra to third, then Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew mishandled what should have been a double-play grounder by Andruw Jones, settling for one out while Garciaparra scored. With two outs, Andy LaRoche's pinch-single scored Loney.
The previous game's ninth-inning comeback ended with Kemp making the final out and here he was again with two outs. This time, even after fouling back a hanging breaking ball, Kemp paid back Lyon with a double that scored Ozuna from first to tie the game. Andre Ethier slugged a towering triple off the center-field wall to score Kemp with the tiebreaking run and finally chase Lyon, who pitched all three games and made 67 pitches.
"We wanted to get the two starters out as quickly as possible and try to get to the bullpen," Ethier said. "It's nice to see their starters get out and face those other guys. We only got there for an inning today, but it was enough."
Russell Martin greeted Leo Rosales with an RBI single to score Ethier, the insurance run proving decisive because Broxton allowed a two-out Drew RBI single in the bottom of the ninth before getting Conor Jackson on a forceout to end it.
"Late in the game, I like our chances," Martin said. "After facing Haren and Webb, they have so many weapons and movement, facing a two-pitch pitcher like [Lyon] seems easier to hit off. He's got good stuff, just different type of stuff. That's why the other guys are All-Stars."
Torre said he'd like to believe the comeback is the continuation of a process that began by taking two of three from the Angels at the end of June and continued on a 5-2 trip through Houston and San Francisco.
"That trip did a great deal of molding and maturing," he said. "We came together as a group on that trip."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.