Ethier leads walk-off win again for LA
Outfielder blasts second homer of game in 12th inning
LOS ANGELES -- Before Andre Ethier's 12th-inning heroics and before the Dodgers claimed a 3-2 walk-off win against Philadelphia, a very different story was about to be written.
That story centered on how the Dodgers' inability to score enough runs finally caught up to the club, and Los Angeles was about to fall to the Phillies, 2-1.
After all, the Dodgers weren't going to get to Philadelphia closer Brad Lidge for a second consecutive night. Lidge's slider is too good, and he's been in the league too long to blow two saves in a row, right? Wrong.
Rafael Furcal hit a one-out pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning that barely cleared the wall to tie the score at 2. It was Furcal's first career pinch-hit home run and Lidge's sixth blown save of the season.
"We're still trying to score runs, but that was big," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "To come back with Raffy's homer in the ninth and to turn it into a win was really huge."
For an instant, Furcal's home run appeared to be caught by a leaping Jayson Werth, but fans at Dodger Stadium quickly erupted in cheers when it was apparent that the ball cleared the right-field fence.
"I thought he caught the ball, man," Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp said. "He was laid out on the ground and I thought he had the ball in his hand, but it went over the fence. [Werth] kinda had all of us going for a second."
The drama of the ninth set the stage for Ethier in the 12th. Fresh off a game-winning double Friday against Lidge, Ethier stepped to the plate against reliever Chad Durbin with the score still 2-2.
With one swift swing of his bat, Ethier ended the game with his second solo homer of the day. And while the Dodgers celebrate another improbable win, the Phillies now get to mull over what went wrong for a second straight game.
"I knew I put a pretty good swing on it," Ethier said. "I was watching [center fielder Shane Victorino], and when I watched him jump up, it was a good feeling."
Furcal and Ethier's home runs didn't just lead the Dodgers to their 39th win of the season, putting the club a season-high 20 games above .500. It kept Los Angeles from losing on account of another pinch-hit from Matt Stairs.
Last year, in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, Stairs did the unthinkable. He took reliever Jonathan Broxton deep with two outs in the eighth inning to give the Phillies a 7-5 advantage and a decisive win in the series.
This time, he singled home Raul Ibanez and Pedro Feliz for the tying and go-ahead runs off right-hander Ronald Belisario in the seventh inning to put Philadelphia up, 2-1.
But besides that momentary blip, the Dodgers' bullpen returned to form and shut down the Phillies for the rest of the game. Cory Wade pitched a scoreless 11th and 12th to earn his first win of the season.
"Just the one stray pitch by Belisario," Torre said. "Aside from that, everybody came in here. Obviously, we're not scoring many runs so everybody had to be perfect, and they were."
Overshadowed by the drama of the later innings was a very effective start from right-hander Hiroki Kuroda. In just his second start since a prolonged stint on the disabled list with a strained left oblique, Kuroda pitched six shutout innings, stuck out five and gave up two hits.
He went 4 1/3 innings without giving up a hit before Pedro Feliz singled in the fifth.
The only black marks on his outing were that he sometimes struggled with his location (three walks), and he had two wild pitches in the sixth inning.
"Today was him," Torre said. "He wasn't getting wild [in the sixth], maybe getting a little tired there in the last inning, but he was going to make sure he was careful. That was a terrific outing for him."
In his two starts since coming off the DL, Kuroda has allowed just two runs in 11 innings. He is 0-1 with a no-decision in those two games.
But Kuroda's start would have seemed just a little hollow if the Dodgers weren't able to get to Lidge for a second straight night and extend the game to extra innings.
And just ask the man who got to Lidge on Friday and who won the game Saturday if he could have foreseen the Dodgers getting the best of the Phillies closer on back-to-back nights.
"No, he's one of the premier closers in the league," Ethier said. "Maybe one time if you're lucky. Two times, it's really a testament to how the team can really bear down and use those outs that we have left in the game."
David Ely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.