Dodgers fail to cash in on Boston’s errors
Manny Ramirez stood at the top step of the visiting dugout at Fenway Park, leaning on the rail and looking out at the celebration on the field.
Ramirez had hit a home run Saturday. He had even stolen a base.
Ramirez’s frequent clubhouse companion Vicente Padilla had returned to the Dodgers rotation and made it through 5 1/3 innings in his first game in nearly two months. And the Red Sox did everything they could to invite the Dodgers back into the game by committing four errors.
But the Dodgers still lost, 5-4, as Matt Kemp stranded a man in scoring position in the ninth inning and Dustin Pedroia didn’t, lining a fastball by closer Jonathan Broxton into right field for his first career walk-off hit.
“We just didn’t get the big hit when we needed it,” Kemp said. “They got it before we did.”
Watching Pedroia lifted into the air by teammates, Ramirez turned his back and retreated to the clubhouse.
He dressed in silence.
“I don’t think Manny’s going to talk today, guys,” Casey Blake deadpanned.
Manager Joe Torre looked wiped out but managed to utter some words of disappointment.
“They made four errors and we really didn’t take advantage,” he said, pointing out that only one of the mistakes led to a run. “We didn’t do a lot of damage.”
The fourth error was the one the Dodgers exploited, as right fielder Bill Hall’s mishandling of a ball moved Blake DeWitt to third base and allowed him to score on a sacrifice fly by Kemp. Reed Johnson was on third base with two out in the ninth, but Kemp flied out to center field.
As heartbreaking as the loss was, the state of the Dodgers’ rotation had grown so dire in the last couple of days that Padilla’s unremarkable start was measured using the most charitable of standards.
Whereas rookies John Ely and Carlos Monasterios were basically turned into batting practice pitchers in crushing defeats over the last two days, Padilla at least kept the Dodgers in the game.
He was charged with four runs, three of them earned, and five hits. He walked two and struck out six. He gave up two home runs, a two-run shot to Victor Martinez in the fourth inning and a solo blast to Kevin Youkilis in the sixth.
But what Padilla said pleased him the most was that he felt no physical remnants of the nerve problems in his forearm that had sidelined him since April.
“We didn’t win,” he said, “but what was most important today was that my arm was fine.”
Torre was also pleased, even if Padilla departed from the game trailing, 4-2.
“We couldn’t ask for better,” Torre said.
If anything, Torre was secure with the knowledge that the Dodgers wouldn’t have to unearth another starting pitcher in the next week.
As it was, Monasterios and Chad Billingsley were on the disabled list. Ely’s last three starts were miserable.
The Dodgers were down to two reliable pitchers in their rotation, Sunday starter Hiroki Kuroda and 22-year-old Clayton Kershaw.
The obvious lack of depth had Torre saying with a straight face that Claudio Vargas could soon be called up from triple-A Albuquerque. This is the same Vargas the Dodgers basically gave away to the Milwaukee Brewers last season. The same Vargas who was released this month by the pitching-deprived Brewers.
There are no other viable options in the minor leagues.
“There’s nobody there starter-wise that we could say is a no-brainer,” Torre said.
Speaking of Padilla, Torre said, “This guy’s big today.”
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