Nobody would say so, but it was set up as something of a sacrifice, the Dodgers reaching down into the minors and asking Stephen Fife to go up against Marlins phenom Jose Fernandez.
But in a tense, back-and-forth affair ultimately decided after both pitchers had called it an afternoon, it was an unlikely Jeff Baker double off the glove of a leaping right-fielder Yasiel Puig at the wall in the bottom of the ninth that lifted Miami to a 5-4 victory Sunday at Marlins Park.
Puig hit a padded pole at the wall hard and fell to the ground. He appeared dazed and remained there awhile, before walking off. He also appeared to be struck in the face by the ricocheting ball.
Baker was batting .130, but with Giancarlo Stanton on deck –- he had already hit two home runs –- and a runner on third base with two outs, right-hander Jamey Wright came after him, and the infielder found a cut fastball he could drive.
The Dodgers had scraped back all afternoon, finally tying the game in the ninth on pinch-hitter Andre Ethier’s double before Miami came up with a final comeback of their own.
The right-handed Fife was called up from triple-A Albuquerque to replace Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is on the disabled list with a sore shoulder and returned to Los Angeles on Sunday to have it examined by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
Fife was plagued by the long ball Sunday, but really turned in as solid a performance as the Dodgers could have hoped. He went six-plus innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and a walk, striking out five.
Unfortunately, three of the seven hits were home runs. Stanton hit a two-run shot in the first, Christian Yellich a solo homer in the fifth, and after the Dodgers had scrambled back to tie the game 3-3, Stanton hit a solo shot in the sixth.
Stanton, the former Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High star, leads the National League in home runs (10) and RBI (36).
The Dodgers, though, battled Fernandez and made a game of it. They tied it at 2-2 in the third with a two-out rally. Dee Gordon walked and Puig singled to put runners on the corners before Hanley Ramirez singled in Gordon. Puig took third on the play and scored on a passed ball by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
The Marlins regained the lead on Yellich’s homer in the fifth, but the Dodgers tied it again in the sixth on another two-out rally started with a walk, this one to Adrian Gonzalez. A single by Matt Kemp moved him to third and another by Carl Crawford brought him home.
Fernandez went seven innings for the Marlins and was charged with three runs (two earned) on five hits and four walks. He struck out 10 to give him 65 on the season, tops in the majors.
The Marlins had an opportunity to break the game open in the seventh, but the Dodgers bullpen – which mostly had been struggling – came through. After Fife walked lead off hitter Adeiny Hechavarria and hit ex-Dodger Reed Johnson with a pitch, Manager Don Mattingly brought in left-hander J.P. Howell.
A Yellich bunt sacrificed the runners up, but Howell got pinch-hitter Baker to bounce to third baseman Juan Uribe, who threw Hechavarria out at the plate. Stanton walked to load the bases, but on a full count, Howell struck out Casey McGehee looking.
Jamey Wright pitched a scoreless eighth, but after the Dodgers tied it in the top of the ninth, Hechavarria led off with a soft single, was sacrificed to second and advanced to third on a groundout before Baker won it.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times