SAN FRANCISCO -- Jonathan Broxton said this week that he was ready to be the Dodgers’ closer. He restated that opinion Saturday night, declaring himself fit to deal with what had just happened to him.
Broxton unraveled on the mound in a brutal 10th inning at AT&T; Park, blowing a save opportunity for the first time in his new role and costing the Dodgers the chance to sit alone in first place in the NL West for the first time since their season was five days old.
Aaron Rowand singled to right field to knock in Randy Winn and seal a 3-2 victory for the San Francisco Giants, who scored two runs in the 10th to wipe away Jeff Kent’s go-ahead solo home run in the top half of the inning and keep the Dodgers a half-game behind Arizona in the standings.
“It’s hard to swallow any time you give it up, but that’s part of baseball,” said Broxton, who converted his first seven save opportunities. “I’ll probably think about it for a little bit, but before I go to bed, I have to clear it off my mind.”
The critical play in the inning came with no outs and men on the corners, a chopper hit by Emmanuel Burriss that Broxton caught while backtracking toward first base. Because James Loney also went to the ball, first base was open, making the play at home the only possible out. Broxton’s throw sailed wide of catcher Russell Martin’s glove, Dave Roberts scored to tie it at 2-2 and the Giants had men on second and third.
Broxton plunked Ivan Ochoa to load the bases and, after striking out Bengie Molina, gave up the single to Rowand.
Manager Joe Torre stood behind his 24-year old closer, who could remain in the role for the rest of the season, considering the uncertainty of whether Takashi Saito will be able to return from a sprained elbow ligament.
“He’s certainly not shying away from the responsibility and we don’t intend to stop giving him that responsibility,” Torre said.
On a day their lineup appeared to be in pre-Manny Ramirez form, the Dodgers were kept in the game by Hiroki Kuroda, who effectively used his slider to limit the Giants to one run over eight innings.
“God, he was great,” said Torre, indicating that he thought the Japanese right-hander’s terrible outings were something of the recent past.
Kuroda faced only two batters over the minimum through five innings and gave himself a 1-0 lead in the second when he singled to right to drive in Ramirez.
He allowed the Giants to tie the score in the sixth, when he gave up a leadoff double to Dave Roberts, who eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Fred Lewis. Kuroda faced a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the eighth -- “He was on hot coals there,” Torre said -- but got Molina to fly out to center and struck out Rowand to escape undamaged.
Matt Kemp was 0 for 5, but he had a fine evening in center field, throwing out John Bowker at the plate as he tried tagging up on a fly ball by Omar Vizquel, and gunning down Vizquel as he attempted to stretch a single into a double in the seventh.
The Dodgers might have literally been within inches of taking the lead in the top of the ninth. With two outs and Pablo Ozuna on first, Andre Ethier hit a blooper down the left-field line that was ruled foul by third base umpire Larry Vanover. Television replays showed what third base coach Larry Bowa argued, which was that the ball landed on the foul line.
Denied a chance to send Kent to the plate with at least one man in scoring position, the Dodgers failed to score as Ethier grounded out to second.