It was the kind of game you might expect to see on a Little League field. Or in T-ball.
Errors, a wild pitch, a misplayed fly ball and four runs coming across the plate on walks -- with two of those bases-loaded walks, to Angel Berroa and Delwyn Young, breaking a 5-5 tie and giving the Dodgers a 7-5 lead in the seventh inning.
But with two swings of the bat, Manny Ramirez turned Saturday night’s game from bush league to big league, leading the Dodgers to a 10-7 victory over the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium by crushing two home runs and driving in five runs.
The game took 4 hours 3 minutes, and included 22 hits, three errors, 15 walks and 22 men left on base, 11 for each side. Takashi Saito (4-3) was the winning pitcher, Tyler Walker (4-8) the loser.
The victory enabled the Dodgers to remain 3 1/2 games ahead of their closest pursuers in the NL West, the Arizona Diamondbacks, who had won earlier in the evening. The Dodgers’ magic number for clinching the division title is down to five.
Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda was in trouble from the beginning. And much of that trouble was self-inflicted, as Kuroda had to battle himself and the shoddy fielding behind him.
The first three batters Kuroda faced -- Randy Winn, Nate Schierholtz and Rich Aurilia -- singled to load the bases. Kuroda seemed to regain his touch when he struck out the next hitter, Bengie Molina, on three pitches. But then he lost it again, walking Travis Ishikawa to force in the first run of the night.
Kuroda, who had been 2-0 in his previous three appearances and was coming off seven shutout innings against Pittsburgh, threw 31 pitches in the first inning alone.
He emerged from the second inning unscathed despite giving up a double that appeared catchable, a fly ball that dropped just behind right fielder Andre Ethier.
Kuroda was less fortunate in the third. He again got himself in trouble by hitting Schierholtz, the leadoff batter. With one out and two on, Ishikawa hit a ground ball that eluded both Kuroda and second baseman Blake DeWitt. The ball wound up in the outfield, the Giants wound up with their second run and DeWitt wound up being charged with an error.
The Giants’ starter, Brad Hennessey, came in having endured his share of struggles. He was 1-2 with an 8.04 earned-run average.
That ERA took another battering after Hennessey held the Dodgers to one hit through the first two innings. In the third, with two men aboard and one out, Ramirez sent a 1-1 Hennessey fastball into the seats in the right-field corner to push the Dodgers into the lead.
It was Ramirez’s 15th home run in 47 games as a Dodger. The three-run blow put Ramirez, who hit 20 home runs for the Boston Red Sox before being traded on July 31, in an elite group. He is one of only five players to hit at least 15 home runs with two different teams in the same season. The others are Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, David Justice and Carlos Beltran.
The Dodgers weren’t done teeing off on Hennessey in that inning. With Casey Blake aboard via a single, Matt Kemp hit his 17th home run to give the Dodgers a 5-2 lead.
The Giants came back in the fifth. After Kuroda gave up an inning-opening double to Molina, the Dodgers right-hander was replaced by Chan Ho Park, who had control problems of his own. Park walked two of the three batters he faced, forcing in a run. On came Joe Beimel, who unleashed a wild pitch, allowing a run to score. Then the Giants tied the score, 5-5, on a run-scoring groundout.
The Dodgers went ahead with two runs in the seventh, James Loney and Kemp scoring on the walks to Berroa and Young.
Then Ramirez capped his evening with his second homer, a line drive inside the left-field foul pole in the eighth inning. The two-run shot made it 9-5, and the Dodgers scored once more before the Giants got two in the ninth to make it closer.
5 Combination of Dodgers wins and Arizona losses that will clinch the NL West. H: home games left. R: road games left
*--* NL WEST W L PCT GB H R DODGERS 81 74 523 -- 4 3 Arizona 77 77 500 3 1/2 3 5 *--*