video thumbnail

LAD@STL: Barajas plates Miles to take the late lead

ST. LOUIS -- After former Cardinal Aaron Miles' one-out RBI triple tied Monday's game in the ninth inning, Miles scored the winning run on Rafael Furcal's one-hop throw home, giving the Dodgers a 2-1 victory over St. Louis.

Furcal, traded from the Dodgers to the Cardinals three weeks ago and playing with a right thumb he injured in a batting-practice mishap Saturday, had just been inserted into the game as a defensive replacement.

The Dodgers offense awoke around the time Cardinals manager Tony La Russa took out starting pitcher Chris Carpenter while he was working on a shutout in the ninth inning.

"We didn't do much with [Carpenter], that's for sure," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, whose shuffling of the batting order made little difference. "I'm sure Tony had his reasons. He knows his club."

Carpenter had just hit Juan Rivera on the forearm with a pitch leading off the top of the ninth.

"Trying to stay in on him," said Carpenter. "He was diving all night. I threw a couple pitches in [during] the at-bat before that, and there's one mistake I made the whole time."

La Russa, to a smattering of boos at Busch Stadium, brought in Arthur Rhodes to strike out Andre Ethier. Then La Russa brought in closer Fernando Salas, who served up the RBI triple to Miles. Then La Russa brought in Jason Motte to more than a smattering of boos.

Miles, ignored over the winter by the Cardinals after two stints and one World Series title in St. Louis, savored the moment.

"It's great to be in this ballpark," he said. "There are memories I have here. It always gives me higher adrenaline a little bit just being here. You always want to show your old ballclub you've still got it. Those guys know I can play over there. I don't know if I showed them anything I haven't shown them already."

Miles has shown the Dodgers. Mattingly still talks about how shocked he was to get a player of Miles' versatility on a Minor League contract, and kept expecting "the trap door to open" and find that Miles wasn't what he appeared to be.

In fact, Miles still talks about how he initially agreed to sign a Minor League contract when the Dodgers wouldn't extend an invitation to Major League camp and got the invite at the last moment "almost as a favor, it seemed."

But as Mattingly said, Miles continues to play all around the infield and be a difficult out from both sides of the plate, as he was facing Salas in the ninth.

"The pitch before, he threw a changeup and I thought he might throw it again so I better stay on it," said Miles, a teammate of Salas' last year. "I'd take a fastball the other way, but stay on the change. Sure enough, he left it up."

That tied the game as pinch-runner Justin Sellers scored. Rod Barajas, who already had two hits, then grounded sharply to the backhand side of a drawn-in Furcal, who knocked the ball down, picked it up with his injured right hand and bounced the throw home to the backstop as Miles, running on contact, scored the tiebreaking run. It was only the club's second win in 64 games that it's trailed after eight innings this year.

"It was great to see Fukey tonight, but it didn't matter who was out there as long as we scored," said Barajas. "It was a tough play for him. If it was hit right at him, Aaron Miles has no chance, but where it was wasn't easy."

Furcal -- who thought long and hard about vetoing the deal as he had a right to do -- accepted the trade for Minor League outfielder Alex Castellanos because he knew the Dodgers would play Dee Gordon at shortstop in September and Furcal needed to play somewhere to earn a contract for next season as a free agent. And, Furcal added, "I want to win."

Mattingly pointed out that even though Chad Billingsley was the losing pitcher Sunday, his pitching 7 2/3 innings after Saturday night's 13-inning loss "was huge," providing Mattingly with a bullpen rested enough that he could yank rookie starter Nathan Eovaldi after five innings and still have enough fresh arms to win a close game in the ninth.

Eovaldi allowed only a homer to Lance Berkman leading off the second inning, the first home run off the rookie in four starts.

"He's 94 [mph] with a good slider and really deceptive," Berkman said of Eovaldi.

Then Mattingly paraded Josh Lindblom, Scott Elbert and winner Matt Guerrier to pitch three perfect innings of relief.

The lead that Miles provided gave Mattingly a chance to see how rookie closer Javy Guerra would bounce back from his first blown save Saturday night. He got Albert Pujols on a foul pop and Corey Patterson on a groundout, Furcal reached on an infield single and John Jay flied out as Guerra locked down his 11th save.

"One of those things we've talked about is how he hasn't had any adversity until the blown save in Colorado," said Mattingly. "This is one of those days we have a chance to see how he bounces back. He came in throwing strikes and got three outs."

The 21-year-old Eovaldi, removed after making 83 pitches, will only get a few more starts before being sent to the bullpen to preserve his arm.

The Dodgers offense, meanwhile, was having its typical frustrations with Carpenter, even though Mattingly moved Matt Kemp from cleanup to third, Ethier from third to fifth and Rivera from fifth to cleanup and hit James Loney second. Loney, who had four hits Sunday, had three more off Carpenter.

MLB.com Comments