On a day when everyone and everything seemed to move at a plodding pace in the muggy air, left-hander Paco Rodriguez provided two innings of energizing, scoreless relief for starter Josh Beckett.
Although the Dodgers lost, 7-3, they should thank Rodriguez for doing his best to give them a boost.
Baseballs had no business zooming around Sunday. One could imagine the pop-ups, fly balls and line drives stuck somewhere up above the field in the thick air at Dodger Stadium, collecting as the game went on like bugs in a fly trap.
But they were rocketing off the Cubs’ bats against Dodgers starter Josh Beckett. Chicago collected six hits off the Dodgers righty, and it felt like more with all the smashed foul balls and hard-hit outs.
It was only a matter of time, then, before Chris Coghlan crushed a long ball in the top of the fifth.
After the homer, Rodriguez relieved Beckett and gave the Dodgers some life. Matt Kemp supported Rodriguez’s relief appearance with a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth to cut the Cubs’ lead to one.
“Paco comes in and does a fabulous job for us for two innings,” Mattingly said. “And Matt hits a home run in there somewhere, one of those innings. It’s 3-2; we’re in the game.
Baseball’s all about timing, and the Dodgers might not have had it against Cubs starter Edwin Jackson, but management did this weekend. The club recalled Rodriguez on Friday from triple-A Albuquerque.
Just in time. After a 12-inning game Saturday night and with Beckett failing to make it out of the fifth Sunday, the Dodgers needed a relief bridge to the late innings.
It’s not a glamorous assignment, but Rodriguez did it well, helping span the gap even though the Dodgers didn’t do much when they reached the other side.
Rodriguez had two strikeouts in his 10th scoreless relief appearance out of a total of 13 for the Dodgers this season.
“I came in and held the game exactly where we needed to hold it,” Rodriguez said. “Just try to give the team a chance to come back into the game.”
In 2013, Rodriguez pitched 54 1/3 innings in 76 games, had a 2.32 earned-run average and 63 strikeouts. He was a second-round draft pick for the Dodgers in 2012.
Rodriguez has a 5.40 ERA so far this year, but that inflated number is largely due to an outing on April 30 in which he surrendered three runs in two-thirds of an inning and saw his ERA shoot to 7.11. He hasn’t given up multiple runs in any other appearance this season.
That includes Sunday, of course, the 112th game of the season. These kinds of performances keep a team plugging away to Game 162.
Follow Samantha Zuba on Twitter: @szuuuubes