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Jerry Sands and the kids lead Dodgers to 5-4 victory over Astros

May 24, 2011 |  7:59 pm

Sands6 These days, there is no lead the Dodgers are going to feel comfortable with. No hero they can rely on, even if it’s rookie Jerry Sands providing the first grand slam of his career. No relaxing until the final out.

When you’ve lost as many tough, late games as the Dodgers have, confidence becomes fragile. Every opposing threat is nervous time.

So even after Sands’ slam left them with a 5-0 lead in the third inning, they had to sweat out the rest of the game Tuesday before hanging on for a 5-4 victory to end a three-game losing streak.

Helping to come to their late-inning rescue was Rubby De La Rosa, who was making his major-league debut. De La Rosa, who just flew in earlier in the day from double-A Chattanooga, made it a little easy.

De La Rosa came on to pitch a perfect eighth, retiring the Astros in order on nine pitches. He struck out two and hit as high as 98 mph on the radar gun.

Since this youth movement was going so well, the Dodgers went to rookie Javy Guerrato close it in the ninth. In his fifth major-league game, Guerra shut the Astros out in the ninth for his first save.

Guerra became the sixth Dodger to record a save this season.

The Dodgers had taken a 1-0 lead in the second against left-hander J.A. Happ when Jay Gibbons hit his first home run of the season.

The next inning, the Dodgers managed a two-out rally against Happ after Jamey Carroll walked and James Loney singled. The Astros gave the Dodgers an assist when Bill Hall booted Matt Kemp’s hard grounder for an error.

Which loaded the bases for Sands.

Sands, who had just hit the first home run of his career Sunday, topped that by crushing a Happ pitch to deep center.

That gave Chad Billingsley what normally would have had the appearance of a comfortable lead. These days, of course, have not been normal times for the Dodgers.

Billingsley had a 2.25 ERA in his four May starts but was supported with a total of just three runs, going  0-3 for the month.

This time prosperity seemed a stranger. Staked to that early 5-0 lead, he gave four back. Billingsley (4-5) went six innings, allowing the four runs on five hits and three walks. He struck out nine.

And on Tuesday, the kids and the Dodgers hung on, nervous and all.


Pitcher Rubby De La Rosa is 'very surprised' to be in the major leagues

Angels outfielder Vernon Wells' dad has a different frame of reference

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Jerry Sands is congratulated by third base coach Tim Wallach after hitting a grand slam home run during the third inning of the Dodgers' 5-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday. Credit: George Bridges / MCT