Thursday, September 6, 2007

Dodgers Dump Dempster!

For nearly five innings today, the Los Angeles Dodgers looked like a team that was suffering from a hangover after their 8-2 drubbing at the hands of the Chicago Cubs yesterday. Fortunately for the Dodgers, they brought their young future stars James Loney, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier along with them... Alfonso Soriano homered in the first inning off of Dodger starter Derek Lowe and Jason Marquis retired the first 14 Dodger batters as the Cubs clung to a 1-0 lead.

Loney broke up the perfect game, no-hitter and shutout with one swing of the bat as he clubbed a Marquis fastball deep to right to tie the game. Loney would strike again in the 7th inning, driving in Russell Martin with a double deep to right center.

The Cubs chased Lowe in the bottom of the inning after he gave up a single to Mike Fontenot and a walks Cliff Floyd. Jonathan Broxton was then summoned to relieve Lowe and threw Soriano four straight balls out of the strike zone. With Soriano though, you know that he has a propensity to swing at balls out of the zone... sure enough ball four turned into a 3-run homer as Soriano took a ball which was a good 3-4 inches below his knees and lofted it into the left field stands. Broxton, Lowe and the rest of the Dodgers were in shock (as was announcer Vin Scully).

The Dodgers though would regroup. The red-hot Kemp powered a ball deep to center in the top of the eighth inning for his 10th homer of the year to make it a one run game. Ryan Dempster was then summoned to close out the game for the Cubs in the 9th. With 25 saves in 27 chances, it appeared the lead was safe. Right away though, it was clear that Dempster didn't have his best stuff. Martin and Loney led off the inning with singles. Then Dodger manager Grady Little made a great move, pinch hitting Andre Ethier to hit for Andy LaRoche. In three previous career at bats against Dempster, Ethier had two hits... Sure enough Ethier took a pitch and lofted it the other way, the ball carried and then cleared the left-center field wall to give the Dodgers a 6-4 lead.

The raucous crowd was suddenly silent and then they turned their pent up silence into boos directed at Dempster as he gave up singles Mike Sweeney and Juan Pierre sandwiched around a Rafael Furcal fielder's choice. Mike Wuertz relieved Dempster and promptly uncorked a wild pitch to score Furcal and give the Dodgers a 3-run lead. Kemp would strike out to end the inning... With that the wind was taken out of the Cubbies as Takeshi Saito retired them in order in the bottom of the 9th for his 37th save in 40 tries. With the win, the Dodgers pulled within 2 1/2 games of the San Diego Padres for the NL Wild Card spot.


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