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And now for a Brian Wilson the Dodgers have never known

SAN DIEGO — See, we don’t know this Brian Wilson. Never really seen him.

The Brian Wilson known in Dodger blue was borderline invincible. It was hardly a full season, but it was nonetheless impressive. In 18 regular-season appearances, he gave up one run. In six postseason appearances, not even that.

"This guy’s been Superman for us," said catcher A.J. Ellis.

Very true, of course. The former Giants closer joined the Dodgers at the end of August last season and was quickly the go-to guy in the eighth. Reliable as the sunrise.

And then Sunday night, he wasn’t. He was a regular guy, all mortal and everything. Called in to start the eighth and protect a 1-0 lead Hyun-Jin Ryu had guarded all night,he  faced five batters and couldn’t get one of them out.

"Definitely unlike him," said Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly.

Maybe he missed his beard within the beard. Something was off. He threw a 2-0 slider to pinch-hitter Seth Smith that was rocked into the right-field stands for a game-tying homer.

He walked Yasmani Grandal and then dropped Everth Cabrera’s sacrifice bunt for an error. He got ahead of Chris Denorfia 0-2 before giving up a 3-2 slider that Denorfia singled sharply into center to drive in a pair. When Adrian Gonzalez couldn’t come up with Chase Headley’s hard-hit grounder, Wilson was done.

The three runs (two earned) were two more than he gave up last season for the Dodgers in 24 overall games. Wilson said the concept of "one of those nights" felt foreign to him, baseball’s Sunday night opener or not.

"I’m not particularly used to having 'one of those nights,' " he said. "Normally it might have something to do with not making proper pitches, but tonight I was just unable to get ahead in the count and they took advantage of it."

Wilson threw 25 pitches Sunday, 12 for strikes.

"One thing with Brian, he’s always on the edge and he’s always painting," Mattingly said. "Tonight it seemed like he must have been missing that edge out there. He wasn’t as sharp as we’ve seen him."

And, of course, what we haven’t seen of Wilson as a Dodger is his coming off a poor outing.

"We haven't, but this guy has been a closer for a long time in the major leagues and they always say closers have to have that short-term memory," Ellis said. "He'll be back out next time and get the job done."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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