Reporting from San Francisco
Considering Ted Lilly has made only three starts, it’s probably too early to draw any conclusions about whether he was worth the three-year, $33-million contract to which the Dodgers signed him over the winter.
But this much can be said with certainty: If a ball thrown by Lilly is hit, it usually travels far.
Sometimes, it travels really far.
Such was the case Wednesday, when Lilly served up towering solo home runs to Pablo Sandoval and Mike Fontenot that turned a Dodgers’ lead into a deficit and sent them on their way to a 4-3 defeat to the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park.
The loss was the Dodgers’ second in the three-game series. Manager Don Mattingly’s club concluded a three-city, eight-game trip with a 3-5 record that caused the team’s overall record to drop to 6-6.
Lilly (0-2) gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings; his earned-run average remained at 6.00.
“I need to get better,” Lilly said. “The way I’m pitching right now, it puts a lot of pressure, not only on the offense, but on the bullpen as well. I don’t want to pitch like that.”
Along the way, Lilly threatened to disturb the peace that the Dodgers and Giants asked of the fans at AT&T Park at the start of the series.
Lilly hit cleanup hitter Buster Posey not once, but twice.
Something to consider: Lilly is left-handed. Posey hits from the right side.
When Lilly hit Posey for the second time, in the third inning, the umpires met and issued warnings to both dugouts. Giants Manager Bruce Bochy climbed up the stairs and had to be told repeatedly by home plate umpire Greg Gibson to not approach the field.
The Giants, who had previously hit former teammate Juan Uribe twice, never retaliated.
Lilly said he didn’t hit Posey intentionally.
“I think he’s one of the better hitters in the league at hitting the ball out over the plate and driving the ball the other way,” Lilly said. “I feel like, for me, for the most part, I’ve got to stay hard in on his hands. I’ve tried to do that and missed out over the plate before and he’s hit it pretty hard. So, I think if I’m going to miss on him, that’s where I want to do it.”
Lilly had a rough first couple of innings. A double by Aaron Rowand led to a run for the Giants in the first inning. Another double, this one by Fontenot, resulted in the Giants doubling their advantage to 2-0.
Catcher Rod Barajas tied the game, 2-2, in the fourth inning, as he cleared the left-field wall for a two-run home run of the season. The home run was Barajas’ team-leading third of the season. The rest of the team has four combined.
The Dodgers took a 3-2 lead with the help of another unlikely contributor, Aaron Miles. Miles doubled to left field in the sixth inning to drive in Marcus Thames from first base. The utility infielder, who went into spring training with a minor-league contract, started the game with a .150 average.
The inning was the last pitched by Sanchez, who was struck out nine batters. The left-hander gave up three runs and seven hits.
But everything went wrong in the bottom of that inning for Lilly.
First was the long ball to Sandoval that tied the game, 3-3. Then, came a blast by Fontenot that easily cleared the 24-foot brick wall in right field.