Dodgers Now

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Category: George Sherrill

Now the Dodgers stare down at the inevitable

Good night, sweetheart, well, it's time to go …

From the blazing start, to the dimming summer, to a flicker now so faint it requires a microscope to be detected.

The numbers say anything is possible. Right, I've got some numbers for you: The Dodgers are eight games back in the National League West and nine back in the wild-card berth. They have 26 games left to play.

Ready the toe tags. Check for breath on the mirror. Prepare a few last words.

Whatever hope the Dodgers clung to vanished into the Chavez Ravine night on Saturday, when the Giants completed a stunning -- yet somehow predictable -- ninth-inning comeback.

With the Padres suddenly acting like a team that can't win, a final -- if weak -- opportunity unexpectedly presented itself.

Not a great opportunity -- the Dodgers still have three teams to climb over in their division and four in the wild card -- but a flicker of opportunity.

Then Dodgers had a 4-2 lead in the eighth when manager Joe Torre turned the game over to his bullpen.

First he called on Octavio Dotel, who immediately gave up a solo home run to pinch-hitter Pat Burrell. Then he gave up a one-out walk to Freddy Sanchez.

If Dotel -- who has a 4.46 ERA as a Dodger -- gets out of the eighth cleanly, Torre doesn't have to call on Hong-Chin Kuo and he can use him to close.

If George Sherrill was reliable, Torre calls on him to face left-handed hitting Aubrey Huff.

But Dotel didn't do his job, and Sherrill too seldom has. So he went to Kuo, who had also pitched Friday.

Kuo retired his two batters, but with his fragile elbow, Torre wasn't going to bring him back to pitch the ninth.

"Once I used him in the eighth, it took him out of the closer's role," Torre said.

Now what to do?

In his bullpen, Torre had former closer Jonathan Broxton, Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansen.

Since returning from his unexplained five-week absence, Belisario has a 13.00 ERA. Jansen is a rookie who has appeared in 14 games and barely been pitching for over a year.

So he went to Broxton.

"For who was available to us, I felt he was still a no-brainer for me to put out there in that situation," Torre said.

Except that Broxton has been a mess now for over two months. He looks tentative, uncertain. Like he's mentally checked out.

The choices weren't great, but I'd rather have taken my chances with the kid. Broxton predictably gave it up, and the Dodgers' last gasp seemed to have arrived.

Ready the taps. The end is at hand.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers again can't sustain the momentum, fall 8-4 to the Phillies

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Well, that’s life. Anyway, that’s what all the baseball people say. The Dodgers can be riding high one night, shot down the next.

Win one, lose one. Win one, lose two. It’s a formula for fourth place.

The Dodgers have been searching for that elusive winning streak to propel them back into the playoff hunt for months. They’ve had one winning streak of more than four games the entire season. In the past six weeks alone, they’ve had two six-game losing streaks.

So one night after Hiroki Kuroda lifted their spirits by taking a no-hitter into the eighth, they came back Tuesday and gave up a couple of early three-run bombs on the way to an 8-4 loss to the Phillies.

These would be the Phillies they are chasing for the National League wild-card berth. The loss dropped the Dodgers 6½ games back of the Phillies. They have 29 games to play.

Naturally, a three-game series at home against the Phillies would make this an excellent time to finally start putting together that winning streak.

A hard thing to do when your fill-in fifth starter, Carlos Monasterios, is giving up line drives all over the field and then a three-run homer to light-hitting Brian Schneider. He came into the night batting .206 with 10 RBIs.

The Dodgers picked up Monasterios, of course, is an off-season Rule 5 draft off the Phillies, via the Mets. On this night, the Phillies had to be thinking they hadn’t missed out on much.

Monasterios (3-5) lasted only two-plus innings, surrendering five runs on five hits.

He wasn’t helped out much when Ramon Troncoso continued his lost season, relieving Monasterios with two on in the third and promptly giving up a three-run homer to Ryan Howard.

That made it a 6-1 Philadelphia lead. Even when the Dodgers mounted something of a rally against Philly starter Kyle Kendrick (9-7) by scoring one in the fifth with a pair of singles and a groundout, and then two more in the sixth on a James Loney homer, they could not maintain the momentum.

The Phillies came back in the seventh when George Sherrill walked the bases loaded. Ex-closer Jonathan Broxton came on and immediately gave up a two-run single to pinch-hitter Carlos Ruiz.

The early exit by Monasterios puts the Dodgers in a tough situation for Wednesday’s noon game. The Dodgers went through five relievers Tuesday --six if you count Kenley Jansen’s successful pinch-hit single in the fifth. Starter Clayton Kershaw best be ready to pitch deep into the game.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers catcher Rod Barajas talks to starting pitcher Carlos Monasterios on Tuesday night. Credit: Kirby Lee / US Presswire

Dodgers get relief of another kind: Bullpen on its best roll of the season

He’s said it over and over, said it so many times you can hear it coming, can finish the sentence for him.

It’s the Joe Torre refrain: We’re only going to be as good as our pitching.

The Dodgers’ starters have been good for awhile now, but pitching means the entire staff, the bullpen too often inconsistent.

Only don’t look now, but guess which unit is suddenly acting like a team strength?

Every arm in the bullpen is suddenly looking reliable. With only slight exceptions, each reliever has been on a roll for most of the last two weeks. Yes, I’m talking about the Dodgers bullpen.

There are several reasons: health, starters going deeper into games, Torre finally swapping his closer and setup man, the addition of Octavio Dotel, the emergence of rookie phenom Kenley Jansen.

But at this moment, all the pieces are clicking. And more often, Torre is using his relievers in situational relief. Thursday when the bases were loaded with one out in the fifth, he successfully brought in Ronald Belisario for Ryan Braun and George Sherrill for Prince Fielder.

"That's why they are a good team," Fielder said. "Good move, bring in tough guys out of the bullpen to shut it down a little bit. That's what they get paid to do. Sometimes, they make mistakes. Sometimes, they don't."

They made plenty earlier in the season.

Sherrill had fallen so far off his dominating ’09 season (0.65 ERA), I said back on June 29 that the Dodgers needed to ask him to go back to triple-A. Torre had unfailing patience with the left-hander. Now he’s allowed a run in only one of his last six appearances. In four of those appearances, he was only asked to face one batter.

Jonathan Broxton, who lost his closer role to Hong-Chih Kuo, has also allowed runs in only one of his last six appearances.

And on it goes.

Dotel has allowed one run in his last nine games. Jansen continues to amaze, sporting a 0.77 ERA -- that’s one earned run in 11 2/3 innings (with 17 strikeouts). Belisario came back from his unexplained one-month absence and gave up four earned runs in consecutive appearances, and hasn’t allowed a run since (five games).  Kuo is 5-for-5 in save opportunities and has allowed runs just once in his last 10 appearances. Even Jeff Weaver pitched a perfect ninth in his return from the disabled list Thursday.

"Nothing against the starters, but I think the overuse there for a while got to everybody, really,’’Sherrill told ESPN/LA.com’s Tony Jackson. "But the starters hit their stride and started giving us more innings, and we were kind of able to mix and match for a couple of weeks there. It was a good chance for all of us to catch our breath and be able to relax and take a whole day off here and there and come back out when they needed us.’’

It could all end this weekend in Colorado. Right now, though, the Torre refrain is looking better than it has at any time this season.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers' offense continues to roar in sweep of Brewers, 7-1

So like everyone was saying, the Dodgers are a regular offensive juggernaut.

Opposing pitchers best run for cover. They are eaten like snacks. Taken advantage of like the elderly.

Before the Dodgers step into the batter’s box these days, they drop their bats, pound their chests, look to the heavens and let out their best Tarzan cry.

OK, maybe not, but it must have felt that way to the Brewers after the Dodgers swept the three-game series in Milwaukee with a 7-1 victory Thursday afternoon.

The Dodgers, whose offense has sputtered since the All-Star break, collected double-digits hits in all three games. It was their first sweep of a road series since they took three from the Giants June 28-30.

Casey Blake hit a two-run homer, Scott Podsednik went 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI, Brad Ausmus had three hits and Ryan Theriot a pair to lead the resurgent offense.

And they managed it Thursday without Manny Ramirez, who was rested. And still a Dodger.

With Carlos Monasterios going 4 1/3 innings and four relievers shutting the Brewers down the rest of the way, it was more than enough offense to beat Milwaukee ace Yovani Gallardo (11-6).

They suddenly have some very late-season momentum, moving into a key three-game series this weekend in Colorado. The Rockies are one of four teams ahead of the Dodgers in the National League wild-card race.

The Dodgers collected 32 hits in the three games in Milwaukee, including nine doubles and four home runs.

The Dodgers scored single runs in the first and fifth innings, before putting the game away with Blake’s two-run homer in the sixth and adding three more in the seventh.

Six of the runs were charged against Gallardo. That matched his season high, though it was the second time in three starts.

Monasterios allowed only two hits, one a Prince Fielder solo home run -- does he hit any other kind? -- but left the game in fifth after loading the bases with one out on two hit batters and a walk.

Despite it being only the fifth, manager Joe Torre went to the same matchups he had successfully used the previous night, getting right-hander Ronald Belisario to strike out Ryan Braun and left-hander George Sherrill to induce Fielder to bounce out.

Rookie Kenley Jansen threw two scoreless innings, Octavio Dotel one, and Jeff Weaver the ninth to complete the Dodgers' first sweep of the Brewers in four years.

The six Dodgers pitchers combined to throw a two-hitter.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Manny Ramirez plays like a keeper in Dodgers' 5-4 victory over Brewers

Here’s a question: What if Manny Ramirez, while treating the next couple of days as an audition for a new team, plays so well that he helps push the Dodgers back into the playoff picture?

Could he actually play so well that the Dodgers could not afford to move him?

Ramirez started resembling the player of old Wednesday -- or at least the one from the first half of the season -- collecting a pair of doubles and walking twice.

His second double drove in what proved the winning run, as the Dodgers edged the Brewers 5-4, and in the process, pulled to within 5½ games of the National League wild card.

Ramirez was reportedly placed on waivers Wednesday. That would give teams two days to put in a claim. If he clears, the Dodgers could trade him to any team.

Ramirez had been 0-for-7 since coming off the disabled list Saturday for the third time, but he started to appear like someone getting his timing back  Wednesday.

After Andre Ethier hit his 20th home run of the season in the third, Ramirez doubled to right. He walked for the second time and scored in the fifth.

And then in the sixth he followed a Ryan Theriot double with a run-scoring double of his own.

The beneficiary of all this offense was right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (9-11), who went seven innings, allowing Milwaukee’s four runs on seven hits and four walks. He struck out six.

Left-hander Randy Wolf (10-10), whose allowed departure by the Dodgers last offseason caused its share of fan anguish, lasted only five innings for the Brewers. He allowed four runs on seven hits, walked three and struck out four.

After the Brewers scored three times to go in front 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth, the Dodgers quickly regained the lead with three of their own in the fifth.

A Theriot double and walk to Ramirez preceded a run-scoring sacrifice fly by Matt Kemp. Casey Blake doubled Ramirez to third, before James Loney’s sharp single scored both.

Jonathan Broxton pitched a perfect eighth inning, and Ronald Belisario, George Sherrill and Octavio Dotel each got one out in the ninth, Dotel getting credit for his 22nd save, but first as a Dodger.

-- Steve Dilbeck

He's back! Broxton nails down win for Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw pitched his heart out Tuesday.

Then his bullpen threatened to rip it out once again before Jonathan Broxton -- of all people -- got the final out in the Dodgers' 6-0 win over the Colorado Rockies in the opener of a six-game homestand at Dodger Stadium.

The win was just the second in seven games for the Dodgers, and it came despite the fact the Dodgers' two biggest flaws -- a lack of timely hitting and a lock-down bullpen -- once again reared their ugly heads.

It's a script Dodgers starters have become familiar with lately: pitch well, leave with a lead and then hope their relievers can close it out. Sometimes they do; many times they don't.

Take Kershaw, for example. He's allowed more than two earned runs just once in his previous five starts, yet he has just one win to show for it. On Tuesday, he scattered five hits over seven shutout innings, striking out six. But before he'd gotten back to the clubhouse, reliever Kenley Jansen had allowed a single and a walk, putting the Dodgers bullpen back on a tightrope.

George Sherrill came in to quickly restore order, however, and Broxton then pitched a perfect ninth, helping Kershaw raise his record to 11-7 and drop his ERA to 3.03, best among Dodgers starters in both categories.

And to think Manager Joe Torre spent part of the afternoon lamenting his team's offense.

Or, rather, his team's lack of offense.

"We haven't been productive. And you need production," he said. "Our hitting has been erratic. And very inconsistent."

The Dodgers were stuck in neutral again for much of Tuesday, managing just a hit off Colorado starter Jhoulys Chacin through four innings. That all changed in the fifth, though, when Jamey Carroll drew a lead-off walk and catcher A.J. Ellis singled him to third.

One out later, Scott Podsednik dropped an opposite-field double just out of the reach of Ryan Spilborghs, one-hopping the short fence in the left-field corner to score a pair. That was the Dodgers' first hit in their last 26 at-bats with runners in scoring position, but it wouldn't be their last. After an out and a walk, James Loney drove in two more runs with a double to right-center then scored himself on Casey Blake's solid single.

Blake added an eighth-inning single and scored the Dodgers final run when Colorado reliever Randy Flores fielded pinch-hitter Ronnie Belliard's weak tapper back to the mound but threw wildly to first, pulling Todd Helton off the bag.

-- Kevin Baxter

It's Ted Lilly to the rescue, Hong-Chih Kuo for the save in Dodgers 2-1 victory over Braves

Lilly_600 Ted Lilly, fifth starter. Or could it possibly be, Ted Lilly, stopper?

Lilly looks like the guy in high school who sat in the back of the class and barely said a word. Who could sing in a quartet and everyone would leave certain they’d heard a trio.

The mild-mannered Lilly, however, has been an explosive find for the Dodgers since coming over from the Chicago Cubs just before the July 31 trade deadline.

A staggering Dodgers team received the big start they needed Saturday night, as Lilly shut out the Braves for six innings and the Dodgers went on to eke out a 2-1 victory and snap their three-game losing streak.

The Dodgers collected 12 hits, but continued to have trouble driving in runs, their scores coming during a double play and a sacrifice fly.

But Lilly and four relievers made it hold up, with Hong-Chih Kuo delivering in his first opportunity as the team’s new closer by pitching a scoreless ninth.

Lilly earned the victory, and in his three starts for the Dodgers he is now 3-0 with a 1.89 earned-run average.

Former Dodgers pitcher Derek Lowe matched Lilly early in the humid night before the Dodgers -- shut out the previous night in Atlanta -- scratched together a run in the fourth.

James Loney opened the inning with a single. With Loney running on the pitch, Casey Blake singled him to third. Matt Kemp bounced into a double play, but Loney scored for the Dodgers' first run in 14 innings.

The Dodgers doubled their lead against reliever Jonny Venters in the seventh after Scott Podsednik picked up a one-out hit and Ryan Theriot singled him to third. Andre Ethier’s fly to right was deep enough to score Podsednik.

In his six innings, Lilly (6-8 overall) allowed only three hits -- all singles -- and issued his first two walks with the Dodgers. He struck out four.

The Braves got one run back in the bottom of the seventh as rookie Kenley Jansen was charged for his first major-league run in nine appearances. Jansen gave up a leadoff walk to Matt Diaz. A one-out double by Melky Cabrera sent him to third.

George Sherrill relieved Jansen and got David Ross to bounce out to third, but Diaz scored on the play. Octavio Dotel struck out Omar Infante to end the inning and then pitched a perfect eighth.

That set it up for Kuo, who had been given the closer’s role over struggling Jonathan Broxton the previous day.

Kuo, throwing up to 97 mph, struck out the first two Braves he faced in a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his fourth save of the season.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Ted Lilly, who pitched six shutout innings against the Braves on Saturday, is now 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA in his first three starts with the Dodgers. Credit: Tami Chappell / Reuters

Dodgers blow a seven-run lead in 10-9 loss to Phillies

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What a meltdown. What a completely miserable meltdown.

After leading 9-2 going into the bottom of the eighth, the Dodgers suffered their most crushing loss of the season Thursday when Carlos Ruiz completed a stunning Philadelphia comeback with a two-run double off the wall against Jonathan Broxton for a 10-9 Phillies victory.

The Phillies scored four times in the eighth off Ronald Belisario and four more times off Broxton in the ninth.

For Broxton, it continued a miserable history against the Phillies. Philadelphia loaded the bases in the ninth without a hit as Broxton hit batter and gave up a pair of walks. Casey Blake then booted a potential double-play grounder for a two-run error before Ruiz completed the comeback.

Struggling Matt Kemp returned to the lineup after a two-game benching and drove in four runs, two on his team-high 19th home run.

After being shut out the previous night, the Dodgers went right to work against Joe Blanton, scoring three times in the first.

Scott Podsednik led off with a single to center and James Loney drew a two-out walk before a succession of singles by Ronnie Belliard, Kemp and Jamey Carroll each drove in a run.

The Phillies got one back in the second against Clayton Kershaw after Ruiz singled and Wilson Valdez doubled him to third. Blanton managed to drive in the run when he bounced out to Belliard at third.

Philadelphia made it a 3-2 game in the fourth when Jayson Werth singled, stole second and scored on a Ruiz hit.

The Dodgers, however, got the run back in the fifth after Ryan Theriot singled and an Andre Ethier single sent him to third.

Belliard lined out to Raul Ibanez in medium left, but Theriot tagged anyway. The throw by Ibanez was on line, but Theriot made a terrific slide, going to the far side of the plate to elude the Ruiz tag and then touch the plate with his left hand.

The Dodgers got to reliever Chad Durbin in the seventh when Loney singled and Kemp drilled his two-run homer to left.

The Dodgers seemed to have the game put away after scoring three runs in the eighth on RBI singles by Blake, Kemp and Carroll to take a 9-2 lead.

But the Phillies managed to turn it into a nervous affair against a lost-looking Belisario in the eighth.

Belisario gave up four runs on four hits and a bizarre balk when he faked a throw to third, despite there being no runner at the base. He did not record an out.

Beleaguered reliever George Sherrill followed Kenley Jansen to put an end to the Phillies’ rally.

Broxton came on to close it in the ninth, but did not record an out.

The loss dropped them nine games behind the Padres.

The Dodgers, who had 18 hits against the Phillies on Tuesday, had 15 on Thursday.

Kershaw went 6 2/3 innings. He gave up the two runs on six hits and a pair of walks, with four strikeouts.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz is swarmed by teammates (from left) Mike Sweeney (5), Brian Schneider and Greg Dobbs (19) after hitting the game-winning, two-run double in the ninth inning against the Dodgers on Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park. Credit: Barbara Johnston / US Presswire

George Sherrill: Career OBP 1.000

Of all the bizarre events in the Dodgers’ 15-9 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night, the most bizarre might have been George Sherrill’s ninth-inning plate appearance.

Sherrill, who had never previously hit in the big leagues, faced J.C. Romero and drew a walk.

The bat never left his shoulder.

“I was taking the whole way,” Sherrill said. “I hadn’t had an at-bat before. I’m not going to go out there trying to swing.”

Sherrill said he hadn’t even taken batting practice this year. In fact, he said he had never done so until he was traded to the Dodgers’ last year. Sherrill’s first two teams were in the American League.

Sherrill said he never hit at Austin Peay State University.

He said he played some first base and outfield in high school on days he didn’t pitch. Asked if he was a decent hitter at that level, he smiled and replied, “Career .311 hitter, so not really.”

-- Dylan Hernandez in Philadelphia

Dodgers' offense explodes for biggest night of season in 15-9 victory over Phillies

Gibbons_400 Those versatile Dodgers, their starting pitching finally hiccups and the offense suddenly wakes up -- with a serious roar.

An offense that had been limp for a month made itself all at home in Philadelphia, scoring early and often, on the way to an 15-9 victory over the Phillies on Tuesday.

It was the most runs the Dodgers have scored in a game this season.

The Dodgers got the first four-hit night of the season from Andre Ethier,  the first home run from Jay Gibbons in three years, and a four-RBI night from Casey Blake to run away from the Phillies.

By the time night was over, the Dodgers had collected 18 hits, with Ethier and Gibbons each driving in three runs.

The offense picked a good night to find itself, what with Vicente Padilla being at something less than the right-hander who had sported a stunning 0.74 ERA in his previous five starts.

Padilla (6-3) threw a two-hit shutout against the Padres in his last start, but struggled somewhat with his control against the Phillies.

Presented with a 7-0 lead, he gave up one run in the fourth and then three in the fifth, two coming on a Ross Gload home run. Gload would later add a second two-run homer off Carlos Monasterios.

Padilla went five innings, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks. He struck out two, his "soap bubble" curve not floating into the strike zone as reliably as in recent past efforts.

But with the offense coming to life, on this night it mattered not.

Ethier is showing signs of the guy who was tearing up the league before fracturing his pinky. In his last eight games, he’s batting .394 (13 for 33), with seven RBI and seven runs.

He started the Dodgers’ big offensive night by lining in a run-scoring single in the first and doubling in their next run in the second. A Gibbons hit scored Ethier.

The Dodgers took charge with a four-run fourth. A Ryan Theriot sacrifice fly and singles by Ethier, James Loney and Blake each scored one run.

After the Phillies pulled to within 7-4 in the fifth, the Dodgers scored four more times in the sixth. Suddenly, they were a regular offensive machine.

A Loney double and Blake sacrifice fly preceded a two-run homer by Gibbons.

For Gibbons, out of the major leagues for the past three years after being identified in the Mitchell Report, it was his first home run since July 17, 2007.

In his two games with the Dodgers since playing four months at triple-A Albuquerque, Gibbons is 4-for-5 with four RBI.

Blake added his 12th home run of the season in the ninth.

Ethier finished a perfect 4-for-4. He also walked and was hit by a pitch.

Things got so out of hand, reliever George Sherrill batted for the first time in his six-year career in the ninth. He walked.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers left fielder Jay Gibbons hits a two-run home run during the sixth inning against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday. Credit: Barbara Johnston / US Presswire

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