Dodgers rally to defeat Diamondbacks in 10 innings


Concerned about the Dodgers’ bullpen?

Well, think of it this way: Only because the unit has lost its way was Andre Ethier was able to deliver his first walk-off hit of the season, a 10th-inning single that lifted the Dodgers to a dramatic come-from-behind, 6-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.

Manager Joe Torre’s desperate decision to use a weary-armed Jeff Weaver and George Sherrill’s continued inability to get anyone out was what made it necessary for the Dodgers to score two runs the bottom of the ninth to push the game into extra innings.

Once there, the game belonged to Ethier, who led the majors last season with six walk-off hits.

Blaine Boyer intentionally walked Matt Kemp to face Ethier with two on and one out, and after a passed ball put runners on second and third, Ethier made him pay, sending a ball over the head of center fielder Chris Young.

Players and coaches flooded out of the dugout and rushed the field. The Dodgers had their first clip for their end-of-the-season highlight reel. One out away from falling to 3-6, they are 4-5 heading into their weekend series against the San Francisco Giants.

But this wasn’t the kind of victory that suddenly changed the long-term outlook for the Dodgers.

Their ability of their offense to put up runs was never a concern -- something they received help doing in the ninth when Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew threw a ball toward first base in attempt to seal a 5-4 victory for his team, only to see it sail over the head of Conor Jackson and the visiting dugout.

The Dodgers’ bullpen remains a mess, evidenced by Weaver’s presence on the mound.

Because Weaver had pitched in six of the previous eight games, Torre said he would try to avoid using his most trusted reliever. But with the score tied at 3-3 in the eighth inning, Torre called on Weaver and left embattled setup man Sherrill on the bench.

Weaver promptly served up a go-ahead solo home run to Justin Upton, deep into the left-field pavilion.

Sherrill entered the game in the top of the ninth inning and doubled the Dodgers’ deficit to 5-3. He recorded only one out and increased his already-inflated earned-run average to 16.20.

Particularly unsettling about this turn of events was that it came on a day when Hiroki Kuroda provided the Dodgers with a seven-inning start.

But Kuroda, who threw eight innings in his previous start, was victimized not by a lack of control that has crippled his rotation mates, but, rather, the defense behind him.

The Dodgers fell behind in the second inning when Kemp lost a fly ball in the lights and Rafael Furcal sailed a throw into the visiting dugout, resulting in a 2-0 deficit.

Kuroda only had himself to blame for the Diamondbacks’ lead growing to 3-0, as it was a result of a leadoff double he gave up to pitcher Dan Haren.

Manny Ramirez walked and later scored in the sixth inning, which led to Kemp tying the score at 3-3 with a two-run home run.

The home run was the fourth of the season for Kemp, who went deep for the third consecutive game.

Then, Torre called on Weaver.

For Kuroda, who gave up 10 hits, the game marked his first appearance against the Diamondbacks since he was struck in the head by a line drive in Arizona on Aug. 15.