Dodgers waste big chance
Jonathan Broxton blamed himself for ending the Dodgers’ five-game winning streak. So did Matt Kemp.
Broxton pointed to the two-out walk he issued in the 10th inning to Ray Durham, who later scored the decisive run on a single by J.J. Hardy in the Milwaukee Brewers’ 4-3 victory at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night.
“You can’t allow two-out walks,” said Broxton, who blew a 10th-inning save chance in San Francisco one week earlier.
Kemp pointed to where he was in the bottom half of the inning when Andre Ethier drove a ball that hit the top of the center-field wall. Expecting Mike Cameron to catch it, Kemp was standing at first base preparing to tag up.
Because he wasn’t halfway to second base, Kemp said, the Dodgers had men on first and second instead of first and third with one out and Jeff Kent and Manny Ramirez due up. Kent lined out to center field and Ramirez struck out to halt the threat and deny the Dodgers their fourth come-from-behind victory in five games.
“I made a mistake and it cost us the game,” Kemp said. “We should’ve won the game.”
For the Dodgers, the loss not only marked the end of a three-day run as the co-leader of the National League West but also a 13-inning scoreless streak by their bullpen that spanned their last four games.
Blowing a lead for the second time in a week was Hong-Chih Kuo, who replaced Derek Lowe in the eighth inning with the Dodgers ahead, 2-1.
Praised by Manager Joe Torre for becoming increasingly more economical with his pitches, Kuo had to throw 26 to get out of the inning, the fifth of which was hit to right field by pinch-hitter Ryan Braun for a double.
Two batters later, Kuo served up a two-run home run to Hardy that Ramirez watched sail over the left-field wall, turning the one-run lead into a one-run deficit.
Next to emerge out of the gates in the outfield was a familiar face: Eric Gagne.
The former Cy Young Award-winning closer, relegated to set-up duty by his latest employer, said the previous day that he was nervous about this very moment.
The crowd initially didn’t notice the one-time “Game Over” icon, who was two years removed from calling this place home and was cited this winter in the Mitchell Report as a user of human growth hormone. But when Gagne shuffled his way into the infield, he heard the boos from the paid crowd of 52,889 that he said he feared.
But the worst was behind Gagne at that point, as he retired Casey Blake, Juan Pierre and Kemp in order to preserve the 2-1 advantage.
Hardy, who singled in the 10th to push across Durham for the winning run, was also responsible for pushing the game into extra innings, as his ninth-inning fielding error on a grounder by Kent put men at the corners with no outs. That set up a sacrifice fly by Ramirez that drove in Ethier to tie the score, 3-3.
That the Dodgers would be pushed into a corner like that seemed unlikely at the start of the game, as Kemp led off the first with a double that was followed by Ethier’s two-run home run. The Dodgers weren’t able to do much more against Dave Bush, who held them to three hits in the next six innings.
Lowe limited the Brewers to one run and eight hits over seven innings.