What could have been a spirit-lifting victory for the Dodgers quickly turned into their ugliest loss of the season.
Overtaxed closer Jonathan Broxton blew a four-run lead and the usually level-headed Garret Anderson was tossed from the game in a brutal ninth inning for the Dodgers, who were beaten an inning later on a two-run home run by Robinson Cano.
The 8-6 defeat to the New York Yankees was capped by the 10th-inning ejection of Russell Martin, who slammed his bat when a pitch from Mariano Rivera that he believed was ball four was called for a third strike.
"This is a tough game to recover from," Manager Joe Torre said. "But if you want to be a special club, you have to do that."
Broxton didn't make any excuses for erasing his team's 6-2 lead, refusing to point to how he had pitched for the fourth time in five days and had warmed up on the other.
"I was fine," he said. "I was fine."
Broxton also didn't point the finger at home plate umpire Chris Guccione, who called a potential third strike against Colin Curtis a ball.
A moment after that, with runners at first and third and one out in a 6-5 game, Curtis hit a ground ball to first baseman James Loney, who fielded it near the line and in front of the bag. But instead of throwing directly home to cut off the tying run, Loney went back to touch first for the out on Curtis. Only then did Loney make an off-balance throw home, which was wide and may have been too late anyway to get the speedy Curtis Granderson, who slid in with the tying run.
"I ran the scenario through my head before," Loney said. "I should have made a better throw. I was going that way and the base was close enough to me where I could step on it and still make a good throw to home."
Loney said he believed a good throw would have arrived in time to get Granderson for a game-ending double play.
"It's tough," he said. "The way the game is played out, it makes you feel like you should have won, I guess. But that's why you never know what's going to happen.
"I don't think we're going to [dwell on] it. We know we're in for a battle in this division, so I don't think you can put one game, even though the series is big, you can't think about the loss the next day.''
Cano's two-run home run off George Sherrill in the 10th completed the Yankees' comeback, and left the Dodgers with a 4-11 record in interleague play.
"It was a ball," Broxton said. "He called it a ball."
But Torre wasn't particularly pleased with the umpiring crew, particularly with the ejection of Anderson, who appeared to say something as he cut across the diamond after flying out. Earlier, Anderson had taken a 3-1 pitch from Rivera and started to walk toward first base as Guccione called strike two.
"I don't think I've ever heard Garret Anderson use a curse word," Torre said. "I think the umpire had overreacted. . . . This game is very emotional. A lot of times they pull the trigger too quickly. I think the umpires have to take a little responsibility for trying to keep the players in the game."
Anderson refused to talk about the ejection, which was only the fourth of his 17-year career.
"I left it on the field," Anderson said. "It's over."
Casey Blake, who was standing nearby, shouted as he smiled, "You've got a reputation."
Matt Kemp chimed in: "Bad reputation."
Loney was on first base with none out when Martin struck out looking and threw his bat.
"It was just frustration," Martin said of his outburst. "I didn't mean for the bat to fly like that near [Guccione]."
The Dodgers appeared to be cruising to their second consecutive win against Torre's former team, as they took advantage of a pair of throwing errors by Yankees starter Andy Pettitte in the third inning to take a 3-0 lead. The margin increased to 5-0 in the fourth inning, when Reed Johnson scored on a sacrifice fly by Rafael Furcal and Ronnie Belliard homered.
Clayton Kershaw protected the lead tenaciously, holding the Yankees to two runs and four hits over seven innings. He didn't walk a batter for the first time in his career and his only mistake was a two-run home run he served up to Alex Rodriguez in the sixth inning that closed the Dodgers' lead to 5-2.
"He's growing up before our eyes," Torre said.
Kershaw was typically low-key about his performance but acknowledged being pleased that in some 3-2 counts, he forced the opposition to hit the ball.
"I think that's a sign of progress," he said.
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