On the eve of his third start for the Dodgers, Charlie Haeger talked about the courage required to be a knuckleball pitcher.
"It takes some guts to throw a 66-mph pitch," he said.
Saturday, he showed why that's true.
Haeger was savaged by the Cincinnati Reds, giving up four runs and four hits in 2 1/3 innings to blow a four-run lead.
Making things palatable for Haeger was that the Dodgers claimed an 11-4 win at Great American Ball Park and that Manager Joe Torre said Haeger would remain in the rotation.
"It's a knuckleball," Haeger said. "You live and die by it. Today, it was awful."
Weaver to the rescue
Jeff Weaver hadn't pitched in nine days.
Worse, with Torre pulling Haeger so quickly, he had to warm up in a rush.
With the Dodgers on the verge of losing control of the game, Weaver brought stability by pitching 3 1/3 scoreless innings.
Well, as much stability as there could be when giving up six hits.
"Not throwing on a consistent basis, sometimes you come in trying to get your feet under you," Weaver said.
This was the tightest of tightrope acts, as Weaver hit Scott Rolen with a pitch to load the bases with none out in the fifth inning. He escaped unscathed, striking out Tatum for the last out.
He loaded the bases in the sixth, this time with two out. Ramon Troncoso recorded the last out of the inning, saved by Orlando Hudson, who made a diving stop on a hard-hit ball by Rolen.
The 20-20 man
Matt Kemp broke the game open in the seventh inning by hitting a three-run home run that put the Dodgers up 10-4.
The home run was Kemp's 20th, making him the Dodgers' first 20-20 player since Shawn Green hit 49 home runs and stole 20 bases in 2001.
"I knew I was capable of doing that," Kemp said. "It's not over, so there's more to come."
Torre supports Rose
Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame, Torre said.
"We all know what kind of player he was," Torre said. "He had ordinary ability and extraordinary drive. None better than Pete."
But Torre said he has a problem with Rose, who agreed to a lifetime ban in 1989 amid allegations that he bet on baseball while playing for and managing the Reds. Rose was at Great American Ball Park on Saturday.
"The thing that bothered me about Pete is that all those years, he said he didn't do it, he didn't do it, he didn't do it," Torre said. "When he accepted the lifetime suspension he said he didn't do it. And now, when he finally admits it, he never once apologized to the people of Cincinnati. People defended him and he never once said he wanted to apologize to the people of Cincinnati."
Hiroki Kuroda didn't report any problems throwing in a 35-pitch simulated game and could pitch for Class-A Inland Empire as soon as Tuesday. . . . Players and coaches purchased 380 Mega Millions lottery tickets on Friday night. In case there were any doubts, none of the tickets won the $333-million jackpot. Handed cash to purchase the tickets was interpreter Kenji Nimura, who said he had to wait for about 20 minutes for the lottery machine to dispense all of the tickets.