DeWitt’s single is a winner
Of the unexpected highs Blake DeWitt has felt in his already magical season, nothing, he said, compared to what he experienced Monday night.
The rookie third baseman slapped an opposite-field single with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, driving in Russell Martin with the walk-off run to lift the Dodgers to a 6-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium.
“To be able to come through in a situation like that is what you look forward to as a player,” said DeWitt, who is six for six with 12 runs batted in with the bases loaded.
Martin led off the inning with an infield single and took an extra base when a throw by shortstop Paul Janish sailed out of play. Martin moved to third base on a groundout to second base by Jeff Kent, prompting David Weathers to issue intentional walks to James Loney and Matt Kemp.
“Kemp was, what, four for four?” DeWitt said. “Who are you going to pitch to?”
DeWitt’s single helped the Dodgers avoid their eighth loss in 11 games and prompted Manager Joe Torre to say of the 22-year-old who hadn’t played above the double-A level until this season, “He might not be the greatest player in the world, but he’s going to have a long career.”
The Dodgers’ victory momentarily overshadowed the news after the game that Andruw Jones might have to undergo knee surgery and masked another mediocre outing by one of their starting pitchers, this one from opening-day starter Brad Penny.
Penny failed to pitch seven innings for his fourth consecutive start -- the Dodgers have received only one such performance in their last 16 games -- and gave up five runs and nine hits over six innings, increasing his earned-run average from 5.09 to 5.34. He walked four and struck out only two.
Penny last completed seven innings April 26, only one of six times a Dodgers starter has thrown that many innings. The total is the lowest in the National League.
Because he was experiencing soreness in his throwing arm, Penny swapped places in the rotation with Derek Lowe, who pitched Sunday on three days’ rest and gave up seven runs in five innings in a loss to the Angels.
Penny said arm trouble had hindered him in his recent starts but denied it was an issue Monday night.
“I felt better than I thought I would,” Penny said. “I was beating myself with the walks.”
Asked whether Penny was injured, Torre said, “I certainly hope there’s nothing wrong with him.”
The Reds went ahead, 1-0, in the first inning when Brandon Phillips singled in Corey Patterson and added a run in the second when Patterson drove in Paul Bako, who reached base on a walk.
The visitors doubled their lead to 4-0 in the third inning when Adam Dunn connected for his 11th home run, a two-run shot to right field that extended his home run streak to a franchise-record-tying five games.
A fielding error put the Dodgers back in the game in the bottom half of that inning. Juan Pierre drew a two-out walk and moved to third on a double by Andre Ethier, setting up a seemingly harmless grounder to shortstop by Martin.
But shortstop Jerry Hairston’s throw to first base sailed out of play, allowing Pierre and Ethier to score and cut the Dodgers’ deficit to 4-2.
Dunn hurt Penny again in the fifth inning, his single to right field driving in Phillips. Dunn was two for three and reached base three times, and Phillips was four for five and scored twice.
Penny avoided his third consecutive loss when the Dodgers rallied with three runs in a five-hit fifth inning to tie the score, 5-5.
Ethier started the rally with a single to right field and DeWitt capped the scoring by driving in Loney with a single to left field.