Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dodgers, Rafael Furcal make a little noise

The malaise that is this Dodgers season reached its 100th game Saturday night and appeared set to take further hold after only a half inning.
Dodgers starter Ted Lilly had given up two singles, two doubles and three runs to the Washington Nationals
before many fans had found their seats at Dodger Stadium.
But on this night, the Dodgers and Lilly -- who slugged a two-run double and had three runs batted in overall to help his cause -- declined to go quietly and made a game of it.
Shortstop Rafael Furcal, who has struggled at the plate since returning from the disabled list July 3, hit a walk-off double against Washington reliever Ryan Mattheus to score Trent Oeltjen in the bottom of the ninth inning and give the Dodgers a 7-6 win.
That was "was a huge hit for him," Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said. "He's been down" about his slump "so it's good to see that."
Mattingly also praised his bullpen for keeping the Dodgers (44-56) in the game in the final four innings, adding that "It was a nice win from the standpoint that the guys came back."
Dodgers closer Javy Guerra (2-0), who pitched a scoreless ninth inning, earned the victory.
The Dodgers' seven runs and 14 hits were their most since they exploded for 15 runs and 25 hits against the Twins in Minnesota on June 27.
The Dodgers tied Saturday's game, 6-6, in the seventh inning when pinch-runner Eugenio Velez scored from third base on a wild pitch by Nationals reliever Henry Rodriguez.
Velez had replaced catcher Dioner Navarro, who walked, and then he stole second base and moved to third base when Jamey Carroll grounded out.
Though the Dodgers' sparse run production has been their main concern this season, Lilly's uneven performance over the last two months also raises questions.
In five of his last seven starts, the left-hander has allowed four or more earned runs, and his earned-run average climbed to 5.08 in Saturday's outing.
After Lilly spotted Washington the three runs in the first inning, the Dodgers came back with a run in the first inning when Furcal scored on Matt Kemp's sacrifice fly.
The Dodgers scored again in the second inning when Lilly bunted and a sliding James Loney scored from third base as catcher Wilson Ramos bobbled the throw at home plate.
The Nationals then scored three more times against Lilly in the third inning on a two-run double by Rick Ankiel and a run-scoring infield single by Ian Desmond.
But in the Dodgers' half of the third inning, Kemp doubled, Juan Rivera singled and Kemp tagged and scored on Loney's sacrifice fly.
After Juan Uribe singled, Washington intentionally walked Dioner Navarro to load the bases and get to Lilly. But the pitcher lined his double to right-center field, cutting the Nationals' lead to 6-5. It was only his third hit of the season.
"Fortunately, I was able to help" with the bat because "I put us in a big hole," Lilly said. "We were able to come back, in large part due to the work the bullpen did. Then obviously we got some clutch hits as the game went on."

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