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Loney's home run pushes Dodgers past Padres

Closer Jonathan Broxton surrenders a four-run lead in the ninth inning before Loney's solo homer in the 13th gives the Dodgers a series win.

July 06, 2009|DYLAN HERNANDEZ

SAN DIEGO — James Loney pointed the finger of blame across the clubhouse to a player who didn't throw a single pitch, field a single grounder or take a single at-bat Sunday.

He pointed to Randy Wolf.

"I heard before the game Randy Wolf saying something about us playing 13 innings today," Loney said, "so you can blame it all on him."

Loney smiled.

What looked to be a day to celebrate the All-Star selection of Chad Billingsley with a lopsided victory over the San Diego Padres was turned into something far more grueling by a rare ninth-inning meltdown by closer Jonathan Broxton: a 4-hour 33-minute marathon that was won, 7-6, in the 13th inning on a solo home run by Loney.

Mr. Wolf, how do you plead?

Wolf laughed.

"I have no idea what you're talking about," he said.

Later, Wolf said, "Look, I don't make the future happen. I just predict it."

Manager Joe Torre looked exhausted when the ordeal was over.

"So much for getting in early," he said of the Dodgers' charter flight scheduled to land in New York on Sunday night for a three-game series against the Mets that starts Tuesday.

The day looked as if it would turn into something special for Billingsley, who learned Sunday morning that he, Broxton and second baseman Orlando Hudson were chosen to take part in the All-Star game in St. Louis on July 14.

Billingsley looked the part come game time.

"He did everything today, unfortunately, except win," Torre said.

He was on his way to becoming baseball's second 10-game winner, limiting the Padres to a run and two hits through the first eight innings. The only run was a solo home run hit by Kevin Kouzmanoff in the fifth inning.

Billingsley even hit the first home run of his career, a solo shot in a two-run fifth inning that put the Dodgers up 6-0.

Asked whether he would take part in the home run derby at the All-Star game, Billingsley laughed.

"Maybe," he said. "I'll really have to beg to get in there."

Billingsley's shot was the third of four Dodgers homers on a day when Torre held Manny Ramirez out of the lineup to rest his fatigued legs.

Andre Ethier hit the first one, clearing the fence in right-center to give the Dodgers a 1-0 edge in the second inning. Casey Blake extended the margin to 4-0 with a three-run bomb in the third.

But Billingsley ran into some trouble in the ninth, serving up a solo home run to Chase Headley that closed the gap to 6-2 and a double to Tony Gwynn Jr.

In came Broxton, who immediately got David Eckstein to fly out.

He walked Scott Hairston on four pitches but responded by striking out the Padres' best hitter, Adrian Gonzalez.

"By this time, I'm completely confused," Torre said.

Confusion turned to concern when Broxton gave up a single to Will Venable that drove in Gwynn. Broxton walked Edgar Gonzalez to load the bases and Eliezer Alfonzo to force in a run that closed the gap to 6-4.

Then Everth Cabrera bounced a two-out single through the middle to tie the score, and a Dodgers loss was perhaps prevented when Alfonzo slipped rounding third on the play. With Alfonzo off the bag, Blake, who'd taken the throw from Matt Kemp, tagged him out to end the inning.

"I didn't have it," Broxton said.

Torre said he'd told Broxton that he was the last pitcher he would use. He wound up using four more, including Jeff Weaver, who put up zeros in the 11th, 12th and 13th innings and got the win.

Torre applauded the resiliency of his team, which extended its lead over second-place San Francisco to 7 1/2 games in the National League West.

"We had to win," Torre said. "I guess this is the product of the fact that we played so many close games. Even though we were emotionally drained after that ninth inning, we went out there and worked on it."

--

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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