In their now-familiar manner of exploiting the fallibility of others in the cosmos, the Dodgers came back from down 1-0 with two out in the ninth inning to defeat the White Sox in 10 innings, 2-1.
Dee Gordon, who entered the game with a .226 on-base percentage against left-handed pitching, singled Tony Gwynn Jr. in from third base with two out in in the 10th off lefty Chicago reliever Matt Thornton to complete the Dodgers’ latest snicker at the galaxy of naysayers. Gwynn himself only had a .298 OBP and .264 slugging against lefties, but tripled with one out in the 10th when Jordan Danks failed at a diving catch of his sinking drive.
The game was a tossup all day long – and in the case of Dodger manager Don Mattingly, a tossout.
Mattingly was not only ejected for the fourth time this season, but he had perhaps his most prolonged arugment as Dodger manager, after catcher Matt Treanor was ruled to have leave third base early on what would have been a game-tying sacrifice fly by Elian Herrera in the sixth inning. The only replay made it seem a borderline call at best – and Mattingly’s delayed emergence from the dugout led me to believe he waited until he either saw or heard about that replay to argue. In any case, that took the only run that White Sox starter Jose Quintana allowed off the scoreboard.
Quintana, who gave up five hits, walked none and struck out six in eight innings, and Dodgers starter Chris Capuano each pitched brilliantly. Capuano struck out 12 in eight innings, and the run he allowed was, in my book if not the official scorekeeper’s, unearned. Leading off the top of the sixth, Brent Lillibridge singled and went to second base when Herrera misplayed the ball in left field. He advanced to third on a groundout, then after Adam Dunn struck out for the third time against Capuano, Lillibridge scored on Dayan Viciedo’s RBI singles. Without the error, I’m not sure Lillibridge scores from second on the play.
The score remained 1-0 until the ninth inning, thanks in no small part to perhaps the best defensive day of Andre Ethier’s career, mitigating a three-strikeout day of his own. After making two sliding catches earlier in the game (each of which Danks later would beg to have), Ethier slammed into the right-field wall to rob Lillibridge of an extra-base hit.
Arguably, a decision made by White Sox rookie skipper Robin Ventura lost the game for Chicago. Quintana, a 23-year-old lefty who entered the game with a 1.98 ERA, had sailed through his eight innings on only 77 pitches. Nevertheless, Ventura replaced him to start the ninth with righthander Addison Reed, whose ERA was 4.15 with 27 baserunners allowed in 21 2/3 innings.
So instead of the bottom of the ninth beginning with Quintana vs. Ivan De Jesus Jr., it was Reed vs. pinch-hitter Bobby Abreu, who promptly singled. After Gordon (2 for 5) struck out, Herrera, doing his best to atone for his error, delivered a hit-and-run single for his third hit of the game. Abreu then tagged up and scored on Juan Rivera’s fly ball – no appeal.
In his second inning of work, Ronald Belisario pitched a perfect 10th, lowering his ERA for the year to 1.25. Belisario has allowed 21 baserunners in 21 2/3 innings. Capuano, meanwhile, reasserted his case for the All-Star game by lowering his ERA to 2.71 and raising his K/9 to 8.3.
The Dodgers improved to 5-4 in interleague play, increased their National League West lead over San Francisco to five games and maintained a one-game edge over the surging New York Yankees for the best record in baseball.