07/24/10 11:14 PM ET
Loney's first career walk-off homer lifts LA
Dodgers' bullpen does its part in 13-inning contest vs. Mets
By Evan Drellich / MLB.com
But when James Loney connected on a 1-0 pitch from Mets lefty reliever Oliver Perez in the bottom of the 13th inning at Dodger Stadium, that was as sure a thing as the Dodgers had all day Saturday. Loney's first career walk-off home run ended a 3-2 win in four hours and 15 minutes after Los Angeles had used 21 players and a team-record-tying nine pitchers.
"I felt if that didn't go out, then I don't know what's going on," Loney said. "If you're going to play a long game like that, it always feels better when you win it."
"One mistake," Perez said. "I wanted to throw down in the corner, and I didn't throw my pitch and he hit it well."
Loney's homer was his seventh of the season and his second career walk-off hit, the first coming on April 27, 2008, against Colorado. Loney also had a game-winning bases-loaded walk last season.
"I knew Casey Blake was batting behind me," Loney said in a loose clubhouse. "No, I'm just kidding. I was looking for something I could drive and I got something. ... It's pretty amazing. I've had a walk-off hit before and a walk-off walk. Definitely glad I could add this one, too."
The homer was charitable on two ends for George Sherrill, who threw a perfect 13th Saturday after clearing outright waivers at the start of the week. It gave the lefty his first regular-season win since Sept. 26, 2009, and it also kept him from going who knows how many innings. There was no backup plan, although Sherrill said there would have had to have been after three or four more innings.
"He was it," manager Joe Torre said. "He was going to be out there until they decided that was it."
The Dodgers came close in the 12th, when Blake led off with a single and moved to third on Mets reliever Elmer Dessens' throwing error one batter later. Torre threw what he had left of his bench out there, but Russell Martin couldn't come through with the pinch-hit against Dessens, and Perez got Andre Ethier to pop out foul in his second at-bat after he started the day on the bench. Jamey Carroll, the last man in reserve, grounded out to second.
"That 12th inning was very frustrating for us," Torre said. "The people that we had coming to the plate and all that, it was great to be able to win in spite of that."
Besides Loney, the game ball belonged to the Dodgers' bullpen and rookie Kenley Jansen. Jansen didn't take home a ball, but he did receive a likely well-worn lineup card from Torre, and Matt Kemp was said to owe a suit.
In the sixth, the Dodgers' bullpen looked, well, like the Dodgers' bullpen.
James McDonald was charged with two runs in the sixth following starter Carlos Monasterios, who went five shutout innings, and Jack Taschner couldn't retire either of the batters he faced. That left it to Travis Schlichting to get a bases-loaded, inning-ending double play.
Then came on Jansen, a 22-year-old who converted from catcher less than a year ago, and the radar guns came on, too. His Major League career began with strikeouts of the Mets Nos. 3 and 4 hitters, Angel Pagan and David Wright. Both went down swinging on fastballs, Pagan on three pitches and Wright on four. Carlos Beltran grounded out to short with the help of a Loney pick at first, and the debut ended with 14 pitches, nine for strikes -- some at 99 mph -- and an ovation as he returned to the dugout.
Jansen didn't acknowledge the fans, though, he never even looked at them. It wasn't to be rude, but to stay calm.
"To be honest, I didn't feel that I was nervous at all," Jansen said. "All the players have been telling me when you're going out there, just don't look at the crowd, just go out there and look at the home plate and pitch."
Hong-Chih Kuo hurled an inning after Jansen, closer Jonathan Broxton gave two while working around two walks in the ninth and Jeff Weaver put another two frames up to give way to Sherrill. Torre has taken some heat for carrying 13 pitchers, but in a game where 16 were used total, it was worth it.
The Dodgers have used nine pitchers in a game five times -- the last time on Sept. 15, 1997.
"Stop bothering me about 13 pitchers," Torre said. "We'll see if we can we retool [the bullpen for Sunday]. A couple guys are going to have to hitch it up. I'm just not sure what we're going to do at the end. I know we have a 22-year-old who's pretty strong."
Lost in the early innings was the successful return of Brad Ausmus, whose only hit in four trips put the Dodgers up, 2-0, against Mike Pelfrey in the fourth. The 41-year-old caught 12 innings after being operated on for a herniated disk three months ago.
"I'm not really an overemotional person, quite frankly," Ausmus said of returning.
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.