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Tony Gwynn Jr. makes it homecoming to remember for himself and Dodgers in 4-2, 11-inning win

April 9, 2011 |  7:17 pm

Gwynn_350 How do you like me now?

Tony Gwynn Jr. was unceremoniously cast off by San Diego in the offseason, despite being the son of the most iconic of all Padres. Theory was it had something to do with his .204 batting average.

The Dodgers signed him primarily for his defensive ability. No one for a millisecond considered him an impact signing.

But Saturday evening Gwynn came back to San Diego, where he still lives, and provided the biggest impact on the game suspended in the ninth inning Friday night, lining a single into right to score the go-ahead run and lead the Dodgers to a 4-2 victory in 11 innings.

It was a game that used 39 players, including 15 pitchers. Including the four rain delays on Friday, the game took almost eight hours to complete. There were nine stolen bases.

And one unlikely hero in Gwynn.

Gwynn had wondered how he would be received upon his return, but when he trotted out to left field in the ninth at the restart of Friday’s game, he essentially received no reaction at all. Like the crowd didn’t even notice.

That came later.

Gywnn singled in his first at-bat in the ninth, a mere prelude. Juan Uribe, who had left men on base in all four of his previous at-bats, doubled to lead off the 11th inning. James Loney, unable to bunt Uribe to third, popped up. After reliever Ernesto Frieri hit pinch-hitter Aaron Miles, Pat Neshek took over pitching duties and struck out Rod Barajas.

Which brought up Gwynn, and his unexpected heroics. Neshek then fired a wild pitch and Miles scored to give the Dodgers a two-run lead.

Jonathan Broxton saved it for Blake Hawksworth, and the Dodgers had their most bizarre victory of the young season.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers left fielder Tony Gwynn Jr. watches his run-scoring single fall into right field in the top of the 11th inning Saturday evening at San Diego. Credit: Lenny Ignelzi / Associated Press