Trailing 6-0 against David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays, the Los Angeles Dodgers were grinding out at-bats, hoping to get something going.
Did they ever.
The Dodgers rallied for four runs in the bottom of the ninth off Rays closer Fernando Rodney, whose throwing error allowed the winning run to score in Los Angeles’ improbable 7-6 victory on Friday night, its third win in a row.
”It’s the best win so far,” Skip Schumaker said. ”Down 6-0 against David Price, there’s not a lot of hope involved.”
But there was grit.
Jerry Hairston Jr. grounded into a fielder’s choice to first base and Adrian Gonzalez scored on Rodney’s throwing error. Gonzalez’s RBI double tied the game 6-all after Mark Ellis’ RBI triple and Nick Punto’s RBI double – both hits landing in the left field corner – sparked the Dodgers’ rally.
”We’re always talking about giving ourselves a chance to win,” Hairston said. ”It didn’t look good early on. David Price is as good a pitcher as we’ve faced. He was nasty.”
Price allowed one unearned run and seven hits in seven innings while striking out four. He issued a leadoff walk to Hairston in the seventh, snapping a streak of 35 1/3 consecutive innings without a walk, a Rays’ record.
”They’re an extremely hot team right now, and we just weren’t able to hold them down long enough,” Price said. ”But we’re not going to harp on this loss.”
Price was one of three former Cy Young award winners set to pitch in the series, with Dodgers teammates Zack Greinke starting Saturday and Clayton Kershaw on Sunday.
The Dodgers are 18-3 since the All-Star break, and they improved to 35-8 in their last 43 games since June 22, the best such stretch for the franchise since 1953.
”You walk into the clubhouse and you feel like you’re going to win,” Schumaker said. ”That hasn’t changed at all. It didn’t matter what inning we were in.”
Rodney (4-3) took the loss, allowing four runs – three earned – and four hits while getting just one out in the Rays’ first-ever visit to Dodger Stadium. He had 27 saves in 33 chances coming into the game.
”Rodney has been a real good closer,” Hairston said. ”It was a great comeback for us. The Rays are a real good team, too.”
Ronald Belisaro (5-6) got the victory in relief, helping the Dodgers extend their winning streak to three games.
The Dodgers scored two runs in the eighth on rookie Yasiel Puig’s RBI double and Juan Uribe’s RBI single.
James Loney went 3 for 4 with two RBIs in his first game at Dodger Stadium since he was traded to Boston in a nine-player deal last August that was the biggest in Dodgers’ history. Los Angeles acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Punto, all of whom have contributed in the team’s last-to-first turnaround since June. The Dodgers also got pitcher Josh Beckett, who is injured.
Chris Capuano gave up six runs – five earned – and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out three and walked one. The left-hander hadn’t allowed a run in his previous 13 innings over his last two starts since July 28.
The Rays scored three runs in the fifth when they batted around. Yunel Escobar’s two-run single made it 6-0 after Ben Zobrist’s RBI single accounted for the other run. Capuano allowed three singles and a double to center field in the inning before being replaced by J.P. Howell.
Escobar’s RBI single led to Tampa Bay’s first run in the second. Loney tacked on a two-run single to give the Rays a 3-0 lead.
NOTES: Because the game lagged past the Dodgers’ 11 p.m. curfew, the usual Friday night fireworks display was canceled. … The Rays recalled RHP Josh Lueke from Triple-A Durham and designated RHP Kyle Farnsworth for assignment. Lueke came on in the eighth, and promptly gave up Puig’s double and walked Hairston with two outs. He was 0-2 with a 3.75 ERA in two previous stints with the Rays this season. … Dodgers reliever Brian Wilson made his second rehab start for Triple-A Albuquerque on Friday night. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Wilson would need to pitch in back-to-back games before he gets called up. … The Rays were the last major league team not to have played at Dodger Stadium.