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George Sherrill fails to close door for the Dodgers

FLORIDA 7, DODGERS 6

After Andre Ethier delivers a two-run pinch-hit single for the lead, the left-handed reliever gives up three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to let the Marlins take a 7-6 victory.

April 10, 2010|By Dylan Hernandez

Reporting from Miami — Andre Ethier had the kind of at-bat that should have added to his growing legend as a late-game hero, hobbling off the Dodgers' bench for the first time in three days on a swollen left ankle to turn a one-run deficit into a one-run lead.

But setup man George Sherrill was later to learn that he was only being set up for his latest on-the-mound meltdown by Ethier's two-run, pinch-hit single in the eighth inning.

Inheriting a man on first base and a lead that was doubled on a home run by Matt Kemp, Sherrill let the Florida Marlins score three runs to complete a 7-6 comeback and achieve a two-game winning streak.

Standing in front of his locker with bags of ice wrapped to his left shoulder and elbow, the Dodgers' closer-for-the-night offered a few explanations for what happened, among them, that some strikes he threw weren't called for strikes.

As the postgame conversation neared its end, Sherrill finally offered an excuse-free summation of the evening.

"We battled back and took the lead," he said. "I lost it."

Despite Sherrill's posting a 7.50 earned-run average in spring training and having mixed results in his first two appearances of the regular season, Manager Joe Torre went to him in the ninth inning on a night when closer Jonathan Broxton was unavailable.

Even after Sherrill's latest failure, Torre stood by the reliever, saying he would continue to be the Dodgers' eighth-inning pitcher.

"He's been a closer," Torre said of the former All-Star, who was acquired on the eve of the trade deadline last year. "Because someone has a bad spring, I won't ignore his history. I'll continue to send him out there."

Torre said he never considered using Broxton, who had pitched in the two previous games and was forced to warm up multiple times Friday night.

The manager called on Sherrill to replace Ramon Troncoso with the Dodgers ahead, 6-4, and a runner on first base.

Sherrill promptly put another man on base by plunking Wes Helms.

Leadoff hitter Chris Coghlan squared up for a sacrifice bunt, but, suddenly, Sherrill was unable to throw a strike, or, as he said, unable to get one called.

Coghlan walked to load the bases, setting the stage for pinch-hitter Ronny Paulino's double to center field that eluded the outstretched glove of Kemp.

"He hit the ball good," Kemp said. "Probably to the deepest part of the field. Kept carrying to my left."

Tie score, 6-6.

Sherrill intentionally walked Hanley Ramirez to reload the bases.

The game ended when Jorge Cantu hit a sacrifice fly that produced a throw by Kemp that went wide of the plate.

Sherrill could do nothing more than promise he would do what he could to regain the form from last season, when he had a 0.65 ERA in 30 games with the Dodgers.

He said he was throwing on flat ground every other day, something he said he never does when he's pitching well.

Sherrill isn't the only one with work to do. The same goes for right-handed starter Vicente Padilla, who was charged with four runs and eight hits in only 41/3 innings.

Padilla technically met the publicly expressed expectation of Torre, who said before the game that he was looking for Padilla to pitch "a better game" than he did on opening day without providing any further details.

Padilla gave up seven runs and six hits in 41/3 innings in his first start. His ERA dropped from 14.54 to 11.32.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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