A call to arms costs Dodgers

Times Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS -- Over an 11-inning game that included two rain delays and required nearly 4 1/2 hours to complete, the Dodgers ran out of arms.

Hong-Chih Kuo had pitched in three of the last four games and was ruled unavailable by Manager Joe Torre, and Jonathan Broxton was being saved for a save situation. That was how Jason Johnson ended up delivering the pitch that was crushed by Ryan Ludwick into the grassy knoll behind the center field wall at Busch Stadium for an 11th inning walk-off home run that lifted the St. Louis Cardinals to a 6-4 victory Tuesday night.

This was the same Jason Johnson who made 87 pitches in a start Sunday.


Asked how much he had left in the tank, Johnson said, “You saw it. Obviously, it wasn’t great.”

Torre, who used six relievers, didn’t second-guess his decisions to call on Johnson or prevent starter Chad Billingsley from returning to the mound after the second rain delay, which lasted 43 minutes.

“We were looking for volunteers at that juncture,” Torre said of the end of the game. “It’s a tough loss, but I’m proud the way this ballclub played nine innings.”

The reference was to a ninth-inning rally that erased a four-run deficit and pushed the game into extra innings, started by a 421-foot pinch-hit home run to left-center by Andruw Jones.

The blast prompted Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa to pull Ron Villone and replace him with Jason Isringhausen, who opened the floodgates.

Isringhausen forced Matt Kemp to ground out, but gave up back-to-back singles to Andre Ethier and Russell Martin, and walked Manny Ramirez. James Loney hit a dribbler down the first base line that Isringhausen couldn’t handle, scoring Ethier.

Jeff Kent drove in Martin with a single to right and Casey Blake tied it at 4-4 with a sacrifice fly that scored Ramirez.

Ramirez was two for three with two walks, including an intentional one in the 10th with men on the corners and two out. Loney lined out to left to end the inning.

The only run charged to Billingsley over his five innings was driven in by the first batter he faced upon emerging from a 22-minute rain delay, Adam Kennedy, who singled to center. Billingsley completed the inning but pitched no more, as he was replaced in the sixth by former Cardinal Brian Falkenborg.

Falkenborg didn’t make it through the inning, as he was pulled upon walking Joe Mather with one out to load the bases.

In came left-hander Joe Beimel, who went ahead 0-2 on pinch-hitter Rick Ankiel only to drill him in the back and force in a run to double the Cardinals’ lead to 2-0.

Giving up a leadoff hit to Kennedy in the seventh ended Beimel’s night and led to the insertion of Chan Ho Park, who served up a two-run home run to Albert Pujols.

Ramon Troncoso and Cory Wade combined to pitch three scoreless innings.

Billingsley’s counterpart, Chris Carpenter, was pitching in only his second game of the season, as he spent most of the year recovering from elbow surgery. Carpenter was in complete control, giving up only three hits and walking none.