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BASEBALL

With Dodgers, the news was often late-breaking

Dodgers never seemed to run out of late-inning magic during a season in which they led the National League with 12 walk-off wins, six on hits by Andre Ethier. A look back at their best moments:

October 13, 2009|DYLAN HERNANDEZ

Some players called it destiny. Others said it was the result of Manager Joe Torre's pounding into their heads the cliche about playing all 27 outs.

Torre had another word for it: luck.

"That stuff is lucky," Torre said of the line drive by James Loney that was dropped by Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday with two out in the ninth inning of Game 2 in their National League division series.

The error sparked a two-run rally for the Dodgers, who erased a 2-1 deficit to win, 3-2, and went on to sweep a Cardinals team that looked during Saturday's Game 3 as if it still hadn't recovered from Thursday's collapse.

"But," Torre said, "you make your own luck."

That was what his players said.

"We never put our heads down," Rafael Furcal said.

The Game 2 comeback was one of many dramatic moments in the late innings this season for the Dodgers, who led the NL and were third in the majors with 12 walk-off victories. They were 20-8 in one-run games at Dodger Stadium during the regular season. They won eight games when trailing after seven innings, five when trailing after eight.

Here are 15 of their most memorable late-game moments:

15. Dodgers 4, Rockies 2, June 29 at Dodger Stadium -- Priding themselves on their ability to stop losing streaks, the Dodgers were able to prevent their first three-game skid of the season because of a 13th-inning, two-run walk-off home run by Andre Ethier. The Dodgers finished the season with only four losing streaks of three games or longer.

14. Dodgers 12, Brewers 8, July 10 at Milwaukee -- Matt Kemp's grand slam in the 10th inning earned the Dodgers the win in the opening game of their final series before the All-Star break. Kemp made a basket catch at the center-field wall in the bottom of that inning to preserve the win. Mark Loretta's ninth-inning single against all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman had sent the game into extra innings.

Kemp's 10 extra-inning runs batted in were the most in baseball since Juan Gonzalez had 11 in 1991.

13. Dodgers 5, Cardinals 3, July 30 at St. Louis -- Outclassed by the Cardinals in the first three games of a series at Busch Stadium, the Dodgers ended what was then a season-high four-game losing streak on a two-run bloop single by Kemp in the 10th.

The Dodgers left St. Louis thinking they would meet the Cardinals in the playoffs. "It made us realize what type of team we're going to have to beat in October," Russell Martin said.

12. Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 4, Sept. 8 at Arizona -- The Dodgers preserved a 3 1/2 -game NL West lead over Colorado by scoring four runs in the eighth, the last driven in on an infield hit by August acquisition Ronnie Belliard.

11. Dodgers 5, Pirates 4, Sept. 15 at Dodger Stadium -- The Dodgers didn't have much magic during the regular-season stretch run, but this extra-inning victory was an exception. Ethier scored the tying run in the ninth inning on a single by Kemp and hit a two-run home run in the 13th to win it. Ethier had six walk-off hits this season, including four homers.

10. Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 1, April 12 at Arizona -- The moment didn't take place in the late innings but was arguably the most bizarre of the season. Alerted by bench coach Bob Schaefer about a little-known "four-out" rule, Torre essentially argued in the tying run in the second inning.

With Ethier at third and Juan Pierre on second, Randy Wolf lined out to pitcher Dan Haren, who threw the ball to Felipe Lopez to record the third out. But instead of touching second base, Lopez went to tag Pierre. Bad choice. Pierre, caught between second and third, had stopped in his tracks. In the time it took Lopez to apply the tag, Ethier had crossed the plate, Torre argued. Torre prevailed.

9. Dodgers 3, Rockies 2, Aug. 27 at Colorado -- Looking nothing like the All-Star he used to be, Furcal waited for his big moment. He got it in the final game of a crucial series in Denver, driving in the deciding run with a sixth-inning single. Furcal went on to hit .330 in September and .500 in the division series.

8. Dodgers 5, Braves 4, Aug. 6 at Dodger Stadium -- The game was mostly frustrating, as Manny Ramirez and Kemp struck out with men in scoring position to end the seventh and eighth innings, respectively. Ethier made up for it with a three-run, walk-off home run in the ninth.

7. Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 5, June 2 at Dodger Stadium -- The Dodgers looked as if they had no chance, trailing, 5-1, after being held to one run in seven innings by Haren. But they pounced on the Arizona bullpen in a five-run eighth inning that was highlighted by Loney's three-run double. The four-run deficit was the largest the Dodgers overcame this season.

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