If at third you don’t succeed, hit a home run.
Andre Ethier was thrown out trying to score from first base on a Hanley Ramirez double in the fourth inning. But with the Dodgers still trailing 1-0 in the sixth, Ethier towered a no-doubt shot into the right-field stands to put the Dodgers on the path toward a 3-1 victory at Atlanta.
Unfortunately, the Braves weren’t entirely sold on that outcome, coming back to tie the game 3-3 and send it into the 10th inning, which is when I greet you with this post.
In the fourth, Ethier was thrown out by a good 10 feet at home plate following textbook fielding and throwing work by leftfielder Martin Prado and shortstop Paul Janish. Though frustrating, the decision to send Ethier by third-base coach Tim Wallach was somewhat excusable, coming with two outs and James Loney on deck. Wallach, by my estimation has been more reliable with Dodger baserunners than his recent predecessors such as Rich Donnelly.
But it didn’t look good for the Dodgers then, and looked even worse when Loney and Luis Cruz singled to start the next inning, before being stranded. That meant four consecutive Dodgers had reached base without a run scoring.
Finally, in the sixth inning of Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson’s longest outing since July 7, the Dodgers broke through on a groundball double off the glove of Chipper Jones (who had homered in the first to give Atlanta its early lead) followed by Ethier’s homer, his first since July 14.
That, plus a seventh-inning insurance run that came on doubles by Cruz and Shane Victorino, ideally would have been all Dodger starter Chris Capuano would need. The lefty entered the eighth inning with eight strikeouts against three baserunners on 84 pitches, but he gave up leadoff singles to Janish and pinch-hitter Reed Johnson and a sacrifice to put the tying runs in scoring position.
Don Mattingly then turned to the up-and-down Ronald Belisario, who surrendered an RBI groundout to Prado that cut the lead to one run. Jason Heyward then lined a clean single the opposite way into left-center, tying the game.
Belisario, who allowed 11 runs of his own along with three inherited runs in 11 innings from July 8-31, had come back with five scoreless innings to start August – before giving up two more runs in Pittsburgh in his last outing on Monday.
Ace Atlanta reliever Craig Kimbrel blistered the Dodgers with two strikeouts in a perfect ninth, leading to the bottom of the inning, which began, surprisingly, with Belisario back on the mound. And go figure – Belisario struck out the side, taking us to the 10th.