After beating the Philadelphia Phillies with a walk-off double less than 24 hours earlier, the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier came to bat in the 12th inning of Saturday’s game figuring he wouldn’t get a good pitch to hit.
Yet, “sure enough, they threw it right down the middle again,” he said of Phillies reliever Chad Durbin.
So Ethier slugged it over the center-field fence for his second home run of the day and his second game-winner in as many days, lifting the Dodgers to a 3-2 win over the Phillies in front of 41,412 at Dodger Stadium.
However, it took another dramatic home run, this one a solo shot by Rafael Furcal in the ninth inning off struggling Phillies closer Brad Lidge, to keep the Dodgers in the game.
Furcal, the Dodgers’ regular shortstop, had not started Saturday to get some added rest, and his drive into the right-field pavilion was the first pinch-hit homer of his career.
All of which came after Dodgers starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda had his second solid outing since returning from the disabled list with a muscle strain in his side.
The win also overshadowed the team’s lackluster hitting of late, which left several Dodgers batters frustrated before Ethier finally sent everyone home.
The Dodgers had managed only one run -- Ethier’s first home run of the game -- and five hits against Phillies starter Joe Blanton in his six innings of work.
“In this game or any game you’re going to experience frustration, but it’s what you do with it,” Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said. “Do you go out there and get to the point of just throwing up your hands? Or do you just continue to grind at it?”
The Dodgers are now 39-19, the best in the big leagues, and 20 games above .500 for the first time this season as they sit atop the National League West.
The team also improved to 11-1 in one-run games at Dodger Stadium, 14-5 in one-run games overall and they’ve won two of three in the four-game series with the Phillies (32-22) that concludes today.
But as they came to bat in the ninth inning, it appeared the Dodgers had been burned again by the Phillies’ Matt Stairs, who hit a pinch-hit single off Ronald Belisario to drive in two runs in the seventh inning and give Philadelphia a 2-1 lead.
Last October, Stairs came off the bench to hit a two-run home run for a win that gave Philadelphia a 3-1 lead over the Dodgers in the best-of-seven NL Championship Series.
The Phillies won the pennant the following game and then the World Series.
Backed by dazzling defensive plays by first baseman James Loney and second baseman Orlando Hudson, Kuroda pitched six innings of shutout ball and gave up only two hits, the first of which didn’t come until the Phillies’ Pedro Feliz singled with one out in the fourth inning.
Kuroda did lose his control in the sixth inning, but it didn’t cost him.
After Jayson Werth singled with two out, he reached third when Kuroda threw two wild pitches to Chase Utley, who walked.
But Kuroda struck out slugger Ryan Howard to end the threat.
Kuroda called his performance “not especially good but good enough,” saying he could have had “perhaps better command a little bit and I would have liked to pitch more innings.”
Regardless, with the Dodgers not scoring much lately, “I have to pitch my game and pitch well and not allow any runs,” he said.
Where: Dodger Stadium.
On the air: TV: ESPN; Radio 790, 930.
Pitchers: Randy Wolf vs. Antonio Bastardo.
Update: Two left-handers face off as the teams conclude their four-game series. Wolf’s most recent outing was his worst of the season so far, as the Canoga Park native gave up five runs in six innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks last Tuesday. Bastardo, 23, won his major league debut Tuesday against the San Diego Padres, giving up only one run in six innings of work.
-- Jim Peltz