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08/03/08 4:46 PM ET
Dodgers give Broxton's arm rest
Interim closer available Sunday after getting Saturday off
By Michael Schwartz / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- If there's any downside to the Dodgers playing -- and winning -- so many close games during their 10-game homestand that ends Sunday, it's that closer Jonathan Broxton has at least gotten up every day.
That's why Broxton got Saturday off despite a save situation presenting itself in a crucial game Los Angeles needed to win against first-place Arizona.
"I just needed a day," Broxton said.
During the first nine games of the homestand, Broxton picked up three saves and made one other appearance but has gotten warm every night with usual closer Takashi Saito out with a sprained ligament in his right elbow, even the 6-0 win on July 26 when Dodgers relievers put a few runners on base in the ninth.
Besides that contest and Chad Billingsley's shutout on Wednesday, every game during the homestand has been decided by two runs or fewer.
"This is nothing more than he's been throwing, and he basically tells [pitching coach Rick Honeycutt], 'It's a little tired, but I can still pitch,' " Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "But once the 'little tired,' that resonates more for us than that 'I can still pitch.' We shut him down last night, and I'm just glad we were able to have the other guys available to us."
After Hiroki Kuroda threw 7 1/3 quality innings, Hong-Chih Kuo followed with 1 1/3 innings before Chan Ho Park picked up the final out.
"We've got a great bullpen, and they picked me up yesterday," Broxton said.
Although it's never good news when a pitcher says he's sore, Torre said in Broxton's case, "It's not sore dangerous where it's an injury."
The Dodgers want to keep Broxton fresh because he's thrived closing games, saving all five opportunities he's gotten since the All-Star break by yielding just one run in 6 2/3 innings (1.45 ERA).
The pressures of closing have not gotten to Broxton, as he said his mind-set has not changed now pitching the ninth inning instead of the eighth.
"It could be if you think about it, but you've just got to go out there and think about what you've got to do out there: first-pitch strikes, and once you get ahead you try to get quick outs so you can be available a lot of days in the row," Broxton said.
No matter what inning he's pitched, Broxton has been lights out in 22 outings since June 4, compiling a 1.19 ERA in 22 2/3 innings to lower his ERA to 3.11 ERA from 4.94.
In fact he's pretty much done that all year save for a six-run, one-third-inning outing May 11 against Houston, as he would have a season ERA of 1.96 without that appearance.
Fresh from his day off, Broxton will be ready if needed Sunday afternoon.
"I try to help out the team all year consistently," Broxton said. "Now, we're not risking hurting myself and missing two weeks [by taking the day off]. Basically it's a no-win situation. I missed one day, come back and help the team again."