Add Ted Lilly to the list of ailing Dodgers.
A stiff neck forced Lilly to make a premature exit from the Dodgers’ 7-6, 12-inning defeat to the Colorado Rockies on Saturday at Coors Field.
The extent of the problem is unknown and the Dodgers will wait to see whether Lilly’s condition improves in the coming days before deciding whether he will make his next start.
“I don’t expect to miss it,” Lilly said.
Lilly went into Saturday with a 1.71 earned-run average this month but literally zero run support. In his three previous August starts, all losses charged to Lilly, the Dodgers failed to score a run while he was in the game.
That changed in the first inning Saturday, when Juan Rivera slapped a two-run single to left field.
What appeared to be a beneficial change in fortune was, in fact, something different. Earlier in the week, Lilly woke up in the Dodgers’ hotel in Milwaukee with stiffness on the right side of his neck.
Lilly insisted on pitching, as he did in June when a sore elbow prevented him from throwing bullpen sessions between starts.
“I think playing through injuries is part of the game,” he said. “Guys have been doing it since the game started. When [Abner] Doubleday invented it, I’m guessing guys were playing through injuries.”
But with two out in the fifth inning, Lilly had to be pulled from the game.
“I don’t know if it was getting worse,” he said. “It wasn’t getting much better. I felt mechanically, I was getting worse.”
For the first time since he joined the Dodgers at the non-waiver trade deadline last year, Lilly walked three batters. He was charged with three runs and three hits in 42/3 innings.
“He really battled to get that far,” Manager Don Mattingly said.
Waking up Saturday morning with an ERA of 12.00, Hong-Chih Kuo showed a glimpse of the pitcher he used to be.
Kuo struck out all three batters he faced, making this his first three-strikeout outing of the season.
The former All-Star left-hander replaced Lilly with two out and runners on the corners in the fifth inning, which he got out of by striking out Carlos Gonzalez. He struck out Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton in the sixth inning before Mattingly summoned Josh Lindblom out of the bullpen to face Ty Wigginton.
Matt Kemp extended his hitting streak to 10 games, as he was three for five with a run batted in. Two of the hits were infield singles.
The game also marked the first time this season that Kemp was caught stealing twice in the same game. He ended the first inning when he was thrown out trying to steal third base. He was picked off and thrown out attempting to steal second base in the 12th inning.
Kemp already has 33 steals and if he hits two more home runs, he will become only the second Dodger to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season. The first was Raul Mondesi, who did it in 1997 and 1999.