The initial sign that Tuesday's Dodgers-Giants game would be a wacky one came in the first inning when seven of the first eight pitches thrown by San Francisco ace Tim Lincecum were balls.
After that, the game gyrated from the Dodgers' holding a comfortable lead behind starter Clayton Kershaw to one that became a brushback battle that sent three Dodgers — including Kershaw and Manager Joe Torre — to the showers and finally into a bizarre ninth inning that saw the Dodgers blow the game after closer Jonathan Broxton was forced to leave because of an arcane rule.
In the end the Dodgers lost, 7-5, in front of 53,381 to extend their losing streak to six games. Their only solace was that the division-leading San Diego Padres also lost, so the Dodgers didn't lose any more ground in the National League West.
The Dodgers had a 5-4 lead in the ninth when they brought in Broxton, but the Giants loaded the bases. Then hitting coach Don Mattingly, managing on behalf of the ejected Torre, went to the mound for a strategy talk.
As he was stepping off the mound, first baseman James Loney apparently asked him a question, and Mattingly stepped back on the mound. Inadvertently, Mattingly had technically made two visits to the mound in the same inning and that meant Broxton had to leave the game.
Reliever George Sherrill, who has struggled all season, then came in and promptly gave up a double to Andres Torres, giving the Giants a 6-5 lead, and another hit by Buster Posey off Travis Schlichting drove in another San Francisco run.
Torre said Mattingly "just thought he was still on the mound" when he inadvertently stepped off and then back on the mound, forcing Broxton's removal from the game.
Xavier Paul, a recent call-up from the minor leagues who filled in for the injured Manny Ramirez in left field, helped lead the Dodgers' offense with three hits and two runs scored. Yet Paul, 25, also let San Francisco back into the game with a costly error in the sixth inning.
Lincecum's wildness and Andre Ethier's home run in the first inning had helped the Dodgers take a 5-1 lead after three innings.
Then matters got a lot less folksy in the fifth.
Lincecum threw an inside pitch that dropped Kemp to the ground, then another that plunked Kemp in the back as Kemp turned to avoid it. Kemp veered toward Lincecum as he walked to first base, and home-plate umpire Adrian Johnson kept them apart and warned both benches against any retaliation.
There might have been history at play. In the teams' first meeting in April, the Dodgers' Vicente Padilla hit the Giants' Aaron Rowand in the head, putting Rowand on the disabled list with a cheek facture, a pitch Padilla said then wasn't intentional.
Either way, an inside pitch to Russell Martin in the sixth inning Tuesday night drew a fiery response from Dodgers bench coach Bob Schaeffer, who was ejected.
And in the seventh inning, Kershaw hit Rowand to start the inning and was immediately ejected, as was Torre.
Asked if the hit batters reflected a history stemming from the teams' game in April when Rowand was hit, Torre replied, "My guess would be yes, it did."
Kershaw said "it was unfair that we got warned a little early" by the umpires. "I pitch inside and it's part of my game and sometimes pitches get in there and get away. That's really all I have to say about it."
By that time the score was 5-4 after Paul had dropped Pat Burrell's deep fly in the sixth inning, allowing Freddy Sanchez to score and leading to a double by Pablo Sandoval that drove in two more Giants runs.
As for the game overall, "it's a tough one" to lose, Kershaw said. "Right now we're just kind of finding ways to lose."
Buy Dodgers tickets here
Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.