Dodgers' bats erase Cubs' late rally
LA's four-run eighth dampens Chicago's seven-run seventh
LOS ANGELES -- There were exceptions to a lot of rules for the Dodgers on Friday night.The offense jumped out to an unusually comfortable five-run lead through five innings, but the bullpen let it get away and then some, which has been pretty much unheard of this season. And for their last and best surprise, the Dodgers' offense came off the deck with four runs in the bottom of the eighth for a 9-8 victory over the Cubs that was so wild at the end, it obscured the early performances of Jeff Kent (four RBIs) and Derek Lowe (six innings, one run allowed). After relievers Joe Beimel, Yhency Brazoban and Jonathan Broxton were shell-shocked in a seven-run seventh inning -- nine consecutive batters reached base -- Rudy Seanez stopped the bleeding with 1 1/3 scoreless innings and the offense took over in the bottom of the eighth. The first six batters that inning reached base, the first four -- Russell Martin, Luis Gonzalez, Tony Abreu and Olmedo Saenz -- on singles, cutting the deficit to 8-6. Angel Guzman's first pitch to Andy LaRoche was wild, bringing home Gonzalez to make it a one-run game. LaRoche walked to reload the bases, and Rafael Furcal shot a single to left to tie the game. Juan Pierre, criticized all year for hitting too many fly balls, won the game with one, a sacrifice fly that scored pinch-runner Brady Clark. "They had the infield in, and I was trying to hit something in the middle of the field, looking for something up," said Pierre. "I got it in the air. Usually, when I do that, they don't go very far, but I hit it decent." There were still three more Cubs needing to be retired, but Takashi Saito took care of that in a 1-2-3 ninth for his 15th save this year and 25th straight dating back to last year. Saito's ERA is 1.64. "I wasn't thinking about everything that had happened before I came in. I was only thinking about getting the first strike, and then the next one, and the first out and the next one," said Saito. "You can't get involved in the ups and downs of the game or you're not able to concentrate on what you have to do." What Saito wasn't thinking about was that seventh inning. Manager Grady Little lifted Lowe after only 83 pitches and six innings with a 5-1 lead, turning it over to Beimel, who immediately allowed a single to the left-handed-hitting Jacque Jones. One out later, on came Brazoban in his second Major League appearances of the year. A walk and two RBI doubles later, he was relieved by Broxton. When seen on Tuesday night, Broxton was throwing 99 mph. He was about six mph slower on this night, and the result was five consecutive hits and a blown save. He allowed five hits, three runs (two earned) and his ERA rose to 1.78. "It was a momentum thing more than anything," said Beimel. "They just got hot that one inning, especially against Broxton. We've been watching him all year, and he's been so dominating. This makes you realize everybody gives up runs now and then." Martin said he couldn't detect if Broxton was doing anything wrong mechanically. "He's been so good this year, and the bullpen has been so good this year; they've had our back all year, and tonight it was our turn to come through for them," he said. "We just didn't give up." The first part of the game was all Dodgers, as Kent slugged a two-run homer in the third inning and a two-run double that chased former Dodgers farmhand Ted Lilly in the fifth inning. Lowe, meanwhile, appeared to be cruising through five scoreless innings, allowed a run on a couple hits in the sixth and was quickly removed. "It was crazy, the last three innings," said Lowe, who pitched well enough to deserve a victory he didn't get. "To see a team lose the momentum like that, it's hard to get it back. Today was something you don't see very often." In fact, this was only the third time this year the Dodgers won a game in which they trailed after seven innings. Broxton's blown save was his second of the year and the fourth for the staff. "The bullpen's been awfully good this year, but it happens every once in a while," said Little. "But to come back means a lot to our offense internally, to see they can do that."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.