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08/12/09 9:31 PM ET
Dodgers rally in spirited loss to Giants
Ethier's single ties it in ninth before walk-off shot vs. Mota
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Attitude has been key to the Dodgers' success this year, which is probably why they dressed for the flight to Arizona on Wednesday still upbeat about winning an intense series against the Giants and not at all devastated after losing the finale, 4-2, on a Juan Uribe walk-off homer in the 10th inning. "We got our fight back," said manager Joe Torre, and he wasn't only referring to the turnaround in play after losing four of their last five games at home. There nearly was a real Dodgers-Giants fight on the field. The franchise rivals had a throwback benches-clearing standoff in a wacky fifth inning when Pablo Sandoval of the Giants was hit by a James McDonald inside pitch ... that Sandoval swung at. With bat in hand, Sandoval pointed and yelled at a stunned McDonald while stepping toward the mound. Catcher Russell Martin went after Sandoval and had to be restrained by backup catcher Brad Ausmus, the pitch was called a strike and umpire warnings were issued but nobody was ejected. "He swung at the pitch," said McDonald. "How bad could it have been?" Said Matt Kemp: "If he doesn't want to be pitched inside, tell him not to hit .330." Torre, hardened by more than a decade of Yankees-Red Sox skirmishes, dismissed the exchange as the natural byproduct of rivalry. His players seemed to enjoy every bit of this series. "That's what we expect when we come to San Francisco," said Martin. "The rivalry is intense. It's the way it should be. It was huge to get the first two. I'm proud of us, the way we battled our butts off." The Dodgers get a day off Thursday, ending a 20-game stretch in which they went 8-12. "It's been a long three weeks for us, but I feel we're back in a good place right now, as far as the intensity with which we're playing," said Torre. The game started with an apparent pitching mismatch, Giants reigning Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum against swingman Jeff Weaver, filling in for the injured Chad Billingsley three days after throwing three innings of relief. Weaver made it through three scoreless innings and 61 pitches, pulling off a great escape in the second when the Giants loaded the bases with no outs and didn't score. "L.A-San Fran, it's good to bring the old rivalry back," said Weaver. "Both teams are in contention and it's nice to come here and get a couple and have the intensity raised. You've seen it many times, two good teams going at it." Meanwhile, the Dodgers' strategy against Lincecum was to stay close and beat a reliever. It almost worked. Lincecum took a two-hitter and 2-1 lead into the ninth, only for Andre Ethier to pull off another ninth-inning miracle. Down to his club's last strike, Ethier tied the game with a two-out single on a 2-2 pitch that scored Rafael Furcal. Furcal had reached first on an infield single, although replays showed Uribe's throw from shortstop beat Furcal. Umpire Gary Darling saw it differently and ultimately ejected bench coach Ron Wotus for arguing. Wotus was acting manager because Darling had already tossed manager Bruce Bochy in the second inning, Bochy's second ejection in the series. "You are going to have them," Bochy said of the questionable calls. "We dealt with it -- well, maybe I didn't. But I thought we were going to run out of managers." Then Furcal hustled into scoring position by tagging to second base on Martin's long flyout to center. Because Weaver left early, the game for the Dodgers turned into a parade of relievers. McDonald was touched for two runs, but the four that followed -- Hong-Chih Kuo, Ronald Belisario, Ramon Troncoso and George Sherrill -- kept the Giants quiet for 4 2/3 innings. "We got accomplished what we wanted," Torre said, having pieced together the pitching with a chance to win the game after getting long starts from Hiroki Kuroda and Randy Wolf in the first two games. "I'm very pleased with where we got in the game and the number of pitchers we used." Travis Ishikawa opened the 10th with a walk off Mota, who got Randy Winn on a fly to left. After getting ahead of Uribe 0-2 with a pair of sliders, Mota threw a 92-mph fastball that Uribe launched into the left-field bleachers. Mota, in a roller-coaster season, has now allowed seven runs in his last eight appearances (including three homers in the last eight) after throwing 20 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.