06/06/09 2:44 AM ET
Dodgers rally from brink to stun Phils
After error loads bases, Ethier's hit caps ninth-inning rally
By David Ely / MLB.com
At least that's been the story of late. Once the opposing starter exits, the bats come alive.
That was especially true against the Phillies on Friday at Dodger Stadium.
Los Angeles only mustered two runs through seven innings against Philadelphia starter Jamie Moyer, but the Dodgers equaled that amount in just one inning against closer Brad Lidge for a dramatic 4-3 walk-off victory.
Twice, the Dodgers were one strike away from losing their second consecutive game to the Phillies.
And twice, the Dodgers were able to pull themselves back off the ropes.
Casey Blake began the rally with a single off Lidge on a 1-2 count. Then, after James Loney walked, Russell Martin reach on an error by third baseman Pedro Feliz on another 1-2 count to load the bases.
The next pitch (an inside fastball) was belted to right field by Andre Ethier, scoring Blake and Loney and completing the comeback. Ethier, who now has five career walk-off hits, said he wasn't zeroing in on a specific pitch against Lidge.
"Not necessarily, that I knew [the inside fastball] was coming," Ethier said. "I was just trying to be aggressive in my zone and I wanted to put a good swing on it. That's what I try and do in those situations, because he has three quality pitches."
The blown save was Lidge's fifth of the season, and the Dodgers now have 11 victories in their last at-bat.
"These guys never surprise me," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "The other day with the five-run eighth inning, and then today with just the total resilience."
The five-run eighth inning from Tuesday's 6-5 victory against Arizona that Torre referenced isn't just the only other example of the Dodgers' penchant for beating up bullpens.
In the first five games of their current nine-game homestand, nine of the Dodgers' 11 runs have come against relievers.
"I really can't [say] ... I don't know," Loney said of their recent success against relievers. "It's just happening like that, I guess."
Now that they salvaged a win Friday, the Dodgers just need to work their ability to hit for all nine innings.
The depth to which the offense had dropped in recent days was most evident in the fourth -- the inning when Los Angeles scored its first run of the game.
Left fielder Juan Pierre reached first base to lead off the frame after getting hit by Moyer. Pierre then stole second base on the next pitch. Two consecutive groundouts later, Pierre had completed his trip around the bases for an unconventional run.
"We haven't hit. ... It's been squeezing that blood out of a rock," Torre said. "We scored a run without a hit. We'll do whatever we can, because we're going to hit -- it's just a matter of when that stuff is going to start up again."
The last time Moyer started a game at Dodger Stadium, the outcome was drastically different. Moyer lasted just 1 1/3 innings and gave up six runs on six hits as Los Angeles won Game 3 of the 2008 NLCS, 7-2.
But the lineup Moyer faced that night included Manny Ramirez, and it's no secret that the Dodgers aren't nearly as intimidating an offensive club without him in left field.
Cole Hamels admitted as much after shutting out the Dodgers on Thursday, telling reporters that Ramirez's absence "makes it a little bit easier," for opposing pitchers.
To their credit, the Dodgers have been able to win despite not scoring many runs, thanks in large part to their bullpen, which again was stellar.
After starter Eric Milton lasted 4 1/3 innings and gave up three runs (one earned), four relievers slammed the door on the Phillies. The most crucial sequence came when Ramon Troncoso got out of a bases-loaded jam by getting Jimmy Rollins to fly out to left field.
"The relief pitching was a big part of this one," Torre said. "Every guy to come out of that bullpen -- [Guillermo] Mota, [Brent] Leach, Troncoso, and of course, [Jonathan] Broxton did a great job."
Broxton pitched a scoreless ninth and struck out the side to earn the win and run his record to 6-0 on the season.
David Ely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.