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By Jon Weisman
It was pretty brutal.
Going into play on August 7, 2009, the Dodgers had a 6 1/2-game lead in the National League West. They played five extra-inning games over the next 18 days, and here’s what happened.
August 7: Chad Billingsley left after six innings with a 5-2 lead at home against Atlanta. The Dodgers allowed two runs in the seventh, one in the ninth and a whopping four in the 12th, capped by a three-run home run by Ryan Church off Scott Elbert.
August 8: The very next night, the Dodgers and Braves played scoreless ball heading into the 10th inning. (Clayton Kershaw pitched the first seven innings for Los Angeles, striking out 10), when Kelly Johnson hit a two-run homer off Guillermo Mota. The Dodgers came back with a two-out RBI double from Andre Ethier, ending a 16-inning scoreless streak for the team, but after an intentional walk to Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp grounded out.
August 12: The only game I’ve attended at AT&T Park. Tim Lincecum was one strike away from a 2-1, complete-game victory for San Francisco when Ethier singled home Rafael Furcal to tie the game, but Mota gave up another game-winning, 10th-inning, two-run home run. The man who hit that blast? You might recognize him.
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August 15: With the Dodgers leading Arizona, 3-1, in the bottom of the ninth, Jonathan Broxton allowed back-to-back home runs by Mark Reynolds and Miguel Montero. Ramon Troncoso then gave up a game-winning hit in the bottom of the 10th.
August 25: For the second time in their past three extra-inning games, the Dodgers rallied to tie in the ninth inning, this time on a Matt Kemp sacrifice fly and a Manny Ramirez RBI single. Troy Tulowitzki’s RBI single off James McDonald in the bottom of the 10th won it for Colorado.
The offense and bullpen weren’t doing great, and they certainly weren’t in sync. The Dodgers’ NL West lead was reduced to two games. It was unpleasant. It wasn’t the end of the world.
Los Angeles nipped its extra-inning woes with a 3-2 victory over Cincinnati on August 30 (Kemp game-winning RBI, McDonald the win, Broxton the save), part of a 19-10 run that helped them eventually clinch the division. Despite the streak, the Dodgers, in fact, were 12-9 in extra-inning games in 2009.