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L.A.'s Message in a Bottle

Bradley is ejected in the eighth inning, then Dodgers rally for five runs in the ninth to defeat Rockies, 5-4, and keep lead at three games.

September 29, 2004|Steve Springer | Times Staff Writer

Nothing, it seems, can stop the Dodgers.

Not an ugly, bottle-throwing, crowd-inciting outburst by outfielder Milton Bradley that resulted in his eighth-inning ejection Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.

Certainly not the Colorado Rockies, whose bullpen, worst in the majors, blew a four-run lead in the ninth as the Dodgers rallied for a 5-4 victory. Steve Finley's two-run single capped the comeback, sending the crowd of 33,588 into delirium less than an hour after it had vented its anger at Bradley's outrageous behavior.

The victory allowed the Dodgers to remain three games ahead of the San Francisco Giants, 7-5 winners over the San Diego Padres.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday September 30, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 39 words Type of Material: Correction
Dodgers' record -- The article in Wednesday's Sports section about the Dodgers' 5-4 win over Colorado said it was the team's 11th comeback in its last 12 games. The comeback was the Dodgers' 11th in their last 12 victories.

After collecting only three hits against Colorado through eight innings, the Dodger comeback, the 11th in the team's last 12 games and league-leading 51st overall, was caused more by Colorado arms than Dodger bats

"This is just what we keep doing," Finley said. "I knew he was trying to come in and I was looking for something to drive to the outfield."

With one out and the bases empty, reliever Shawn Chacon walked four consecutive batters to give the Dodgers their first run of the night.

"This one hurts," Chacon said. "My mechanics are all messed up."

Enter Colorado reliever Tim Harikkala (6-6), who gave up a two-run double run to Jayson Werth and the game-winning hit to Finley.

"If you can't win this game," the Rockies' Vinny Castilla said, "what game can you win?"

In the middle of the eighth, in the pressure of a crucial game, in the tension of a tight division race, Dodger outfielder Bradley lost it.

Lost his grasp on a fly ball with the bases loaded, allowing two runs to score.

Then completely lost his composure, exploding after a fan threw a plastic bottle at him from the right-field stands, missing Bradley by at least 20 feet. One batter after the bottle was thrown, Bradley could contain himself no longer, storming to the right-field railing and slam-dunking the bottle back into the stands.

His anger still unabated, Bradley continued to gesture wildly as teammates Finley and Alex Cora raced out to try to calm their furious teammate.

Manager Jim Tracy quickly joined them, but they couldn't placate Bradley. Umpire Jim Joyce, also out in right field, threw Bradley out the game.

The Dodger outfielder, who earlier had broken his bat over his knee after striking out with runners at first and third in the sixth inning, stormed across the field toward the Dodger dugout and removed his Dodger jersey in defiance.

As he reached the dugout landing, Bradley exploded again at the fans above him, who were showering him with boos, before finally disappearing into the tunnel leading to the clubhouse.

"Maybe he went overboard," Dodger reliever Eric Gagne said, "but when somebody throws stuff on the field, it's dangerous. No fan should do that, but I'm not here to second-guess anybody or to judge anybody because I don't know exactly what happened. But we need Milton."

Said Tracy: "We tried to calm the situation down, but we couldn't. Jimmy [Joyce] felt something had to be done.... Are you going to argue when you see something like that unfold? What argument do you have?

"I have done everything this year to be an ally to Milton. I have tried to provide guidance in every situation and circumstance, and I will do so with this one. As far as action that would be taken beyond here, that's not something I have control of."

It was Bradley's fourth ejection of the season.

"Needless to say, the incident is unfortunate," said Gary Miereanu, Dodger vice president of communications. "We will have further comment once we have ascertained the facts.

The fan who allegedly threw the bottle was detained by Dodger security personnel and would be turned over to Los Angeles police officers, a Dodger security official said.

"He was really [ticked] that someone disrespected him by throwing beer at him," fan Kristen Solano of Riverside said. "He didn't see the beer bottle at first, but he eventually saw it. He picked it up and walked toward us. He was just cussing and asked who threw that. I was thinking, 'Oh, God, he is going to kick somebody's.... He didn't hit anybody.... He was shouting, `What are you guys doing? Bring it.' "

Said another fan, Alex Montoya of Hacienda Heights: "Everything got crazy."

Added another fan, Norma Verdugo of Bell: "He was shouting at the wrong fan.... He was blaming the wrong people. We're great fans of the Dodgers.... For Bradley to do that, that's just not right."

In the beginning, it looked like another rough outing for Kazuhisa Ishii, whose rocky season has caused him to be yanked from the starting rotation twice, only to be reinserted because the Dodgers didn't have a better option.

After giving up four hits and six walks in 4 2/3 innings of his previous start, Ishii picked up Tuesday right where he had left off, back in trouble.

With one out in the first inning, Ishii walked Royce Clayton, his 92nd walk in 161 innings. With two out, Ishii gave up back-to-back singles to Castilla and Garrett Atkins to give Colorado a 1-0 lead.

Another disastrous Ishii outing underway? Not this time.

Seemingly teetering on the edge of an early exit, Ishii steadied himself and proceeded to blank the Rockies without another hit in a seven-inning outing, giving up three walks and a hit batter in a 115-pitch outing.

The Dodgers couldn't get to Colorado starter Jamey Wright, but they got to the bullpen in the ninth.

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