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Javy Guerra, Dodgers' semi-closer, gets job for now

June 20, 2011 |  6:37 am

Ln28qanc When is a closer not really a closer? When he is called your "semi-closer," apparently.

Meet Javy Guerra, the Dodgers' semi-closer.

That was as far as Manager Don Mattingly was ready to go last week when asked if the 25-year-old rookie, who had never pitched above double A until he was called up last month, had unexpectedly emerged as his closer.

But with the game on the line as the Dodgers clung to a 1-0 lead against the Houston Astros on Sunday, it was again Guerra who got the call. And who delivered.

Three ground balls later, the Dodgers had ended a five-game losing streak and Guerra had earned his second save.

Guerra has risen to his semi-closer role largely because of desperation. Injuries to Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Vicente Padilla and Kenley Jansen led to Guerra's opportunity. Somebody had to take on the role.

"Broxton is the closer," Guerra said. "I don't think there's a question about it. The roles we've been thrown in, it's whatever is asked of you every night out. We've all just collectively gone out there and tried to finish up ballgames."

Guerra is 1-0 with a 2.70 earned-run average and two saves in two opportunities. He also is as green as a cucumber. And with Jansen back Saturday, Kuo on Sunday and Broxton possibly back in a week, Mattingly is not eager to proclaim an inexperienced Guerra his new closer.

"He's had success," Mattingly said. "That's the biggest thing. I don't really want to anoint him. He's been doing the job and that's the guy we've been going to.

"If our situation changes a little bit, you don't want him to be down in the sense he's lost a job."

Guerra, just getting his first look at the majors, is not about to worry about any particular designation.

"As of now, every time the [bullpen] phone rings I just assume it's probably for me," he said. "I just get up for every occasion and tend to just go from there."

Gurrera is not a classic, blow-it-by-you closer. In his 13 1/3 innings, Guerra has seven strikeouts, but only four walks.

"Right now I want three outs, and really the saves he's gotten haven't been like nail-biters," Mattingly said. "They're kind of like one-two-threes for the most part. He's really not walking people in those situations, he's making them swing the bat.

"And Javy has weapons. He's got a quick arm, he has a good slider, he's got a cutter he throws 95, 96 [mph]. He's a tough pick-up."

And that's no semi-compliment.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Javy Guerra (54) celebrates after getting the last out on the Houston Astros during the 9thinning of a game on Sunday. Credit: Alex Gallardo / AP