Dodgers can't say they never catch a break after 6-3 victory over Astros
When a team is mired in losing, everything on the planet can feel like it’s aligned against them. Bad bounces, bloop hits, missed calls, managerial moves, pregame food.
The Dodgers, of course, know all about losing this season. Losing in every which kind of way.
But they can no longer claim the breaks always go against them. Not after Saturday night in Houston. Not after the Astros handed them the game with three bizarre runs in the ninth.
The Dodgers happily accepted the gifts and went on to a 6-3 victory, leaving the Astros to curse the fates. Or at least some really bad defense.
The game was tied 3-3 in the ninth when pinch-hitter Trent Oeltjen drew a leadoff walk from closer Brandon Lyon. Such an innocent beginning.
Reed Johnson’s sacrifice bunt rolled up the first-base line. First baseman Brett Wallace watched the ball start to roll foul, but scooped it up while it was still on the line. And Johnson was safe at first.
A.J. Ellis then bunted to the left of the mound, Lyon fielded it and threw it to Galveston. Both Oeltjen and Johnson scored, and Ellis ended up at third.
The Dodgers had two runs and hadn’t hit the ball more than 15 feet.
Tim Byrdak took over for Lyon, and pinch-hitter James Loney greeted him with a run-scoring double.
Hong-Chih Kuo came on to finish it off in the bottom of the ninth and earn his ninth save.
Things started off promisingly enough for the Dodgers.
Well, except for perhaps that first-inning ejection of manager Joe Torre. He was apparently tossed by homeplate umpire Paul Emmel for complaining about a called third strike on Casey Blake.
Which turned the team over to Don Mattingly, all refreshed on that one-visit-to-the-mound rule.
Right-hander John Ely -- making his first starter since July 10 -- early on more resembled the pitcher the Dodgers saw in his first seven starts (3-2, 2.54 ERA), and less the one seen in his next seven (1-5, 7.49).
And as an added bonus, the Dodgers showed some actual signs of offense.
They scored three times in the fourth against Wandy Rodriquez, starting with Blake’s leadoff home run. It was his 15th home run of the season.
Jay Gibbons then bounced a hit up the middle, advanced to second on a groundout by John Lindsey -- making his first major-league start -- and scored on a single by Johnson.
Johnson took second on a delayed steal and scored on a basehit by Ellis to leave the Dodgers up 3-0.
The Astros got one back in the bottom of the inning when Michael Bourn hit another ball into that coffin corner in left-center that has been giving Gibbons nightmares the past two nights.
Gibbons couldn’t come down with the drive that bounced off the wall and toward center-fielder Matt Kemp. Bourn rounded second but stumbled and fell. It ended up not mattering, however, because Kemp suffered one of his defensive brain cramps, holding the ball … and holding it … and holding it, as Bourn got to his feet and ran to third ahead of Kemp’s belated throw.
Jeff Keppinger’s single up the middle scored Bourn for Houston’s first run.
The Astros got two more to tie it in the fifth. Wallace led off with a solo home run. Angel Sanchez and Jason Castro singled, Rodriquez’ sacrifice bunt advanced the runners and Sanchez scored on Bourn’s groundout to third.
Ely left after throwing six innings, allowing three runs on six hits and one walk. He struck out four.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Dodgers Manager Joe Torre argues with home plate umpire Paul Emmel after Emmel tossed him from Saturday's game. Credit: Pat Sullivan / Associated Press