At a time when the clubhouse is dead silent after games more often than not, Ted Lilly has provided the Dodgers with periodic relief from the reality of their increasingly dire situation.
Thursday was another one of those nights, as General Manager Ned Colletti's trade-deadline acquisition pitched a complete-game shutout in the Dodgers' 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium.
Jay-Z's voice blared over the locker room's sound system. Players were smiling. Manager Joe Torre was laughing.
Told that the complete-game shutout was Lilly's first in almost six years, Torre replied, "When was the last one I had?"
Veteran Brad Ausmus said catching Lilly's 110-pitch, 11-strikeout masterpiece required minimal effort.
"It was probably the easiest nine innings I've ever caught at the major league level," the 41-year-old Ausmus said before correcting himself.
"At any level," Ausmus said.
Ausmus joked that reviewing the scouting reports of opposing hitters took more out of him.
"I wasn't really much involved," Ausmus said. "He knew what he wanted to do."
The last time Lilly pitched a game from start to finish without giving up a run, he was pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays.
But Lilly remained his usual understated self. About the most excitement he displayed was when he said, "Six years later, I'm glad I'm still in the big leagues."
And the Dodgers still technically remain in postseason contention.
Their victory pulled them to within seven games of the wild-card-leading Philadelphia Phillies and kept them 12 games back of the National League West-leading San Diego Padres.
Lilly retired 19 consecutive batters at one point and frustrated Rockies catcher Miguel Olivo, who drew an ejection for slamming his bat.
The pitcher has become an inspirational figure in the clubhouse.
Hiroki Kuroda, whose winless streak extended to five starts Wednesday in large part because of a lack of run support, said Lilly came to him and said something along the lines of, "Don't give up."
Lilly had the second-worst run support in the majors when he was traded to the Dodgers by the Chicago Cubs on the day of the July 31 trade deadline.
"Coming from him, those words had a lot of weight," Kuroda said.
Lilly's win Thursday improved his record with the Dodgers to 4-0. He won only three games with the Cubs in 18 starts despite posting a 3.69 earned-run average.
The trade has worked out so well for both Lilly and the Dodgers that Lilly expressed a desire to return to Los Angeles next season.
"It'd be fun to come back here and win," he said.
But Lilly's recent turnaround has almost nothing to do with the offense, which has provided him with two runs in three of his four starts since the trade.
The only runs the Dodgers scored Thursday came when Reed Johnson hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot to left-center in the second inning.
The rest of game looked like more of the same for the Dodgers, who were 0 for 6 with men in scoring position.
The Dodgers had men on first and second in the third inning when Matt Kemp lined into an inning-ending double play.
They had men on second and third with no outs in the sixth when Kemp grounded out to third, Loney grounded out to first and Johnson grounded into a force play.
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