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Diving catch by Tony Gwynn Jr. preserves Dodgers' 11-7 win over Colorado

Left fielder's grab ends a ninth-inning, bases-loaded threat by the Rockies. Matt Kemp returns to lead an 18-hit attack.

June 11, 2011|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp is congratulated in the dugout after scoring a run in the seventh inning against the Rockies on Saturday night in Colorado.
Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp is congratulated in the dugout after scoring… (Jack Dempsey / Associated…)

Reporting from Denver

Don Mattingly took a moment to collect his thoughts.

"Oh, goodness," he said.

Jamey Carroll let out a sigh of relief.

"Phhhhhew," he said.

Aaron Miles was at a loss for words.

"Man ?," he said. "Yeah ?"

Miles laughed.

They were talking about how Tony Gwynn Jr. had to make a diving catch in left field to end a ninth-inning, bases-loaded threat by the Colorado Rockies to seal an 11-7 victory by the Dodgers on Saturday night at Coors Field.

But that wasn't the only scare the Dodgers survived on the penultimate day of their three-city, 10-game trip.

Hours before the first pitch, Matt Kemp ran in left field under the supervision of trainer Stan Conte and determined that his tight left hamstring had recovered to where he could return to the lineup.

"He's a guy you can't replace in the lineup right now," Carroll said.

Although Kemp appeared like he might have been by his hamstring on a couple of plays, he denied that was the case.

After doubling in the Dodgers' first run in the fifth inning to tie the score, 1-1, Kemp stumbled over second base and was thrown out.

By misplaying a ball hit his way by Seth Smith in the eighth inning, Kemp aided the Rockies in the first of their two comeback attempts. Two runs scored on the play and Smith later scored on a single by Charlie Blackmon to cap a five-run inning for the Rockies.

Blackmon's single closed the Rockies' deficit to 7-6.

Scott Elbert failed to retire any hitters that inning and his replacement, Matt Guerrier, was charged with two runs.

The Dodgers responded with four runs, including two on a single by Carroll, to extend their lead to 11-6.

Carroll and Miles each had four hits and two runs batted in.

Javy Guerra was the next Dodgers reliever to be tested.

Guerra started the inning by serving up a ground-rule double to Carlos Gonzalez. Disaster was averted when Guerra caught a line drive by Eric Young Jr. and doubled off Gonzalez at second base.

But the next three hitters singled, moving the Rockies to within 11-7. Pinch-hitter Ryan Spilborghs walked to load the bases.

Up came Blackmon, who hit a line drive the opposite way.

Gwynn dived after it. He caught it.

Had Gwynn failed to catch the ball, three runs would have scored. The Rockies would have had another man in scoring position.

"You can feel momentum," Gwynn said. "You can literally feel it changing. I always tell myself that if there's a chance for me to make a play, I'm going at it 100%."

The catch was the second game-saving diving catch Gwynn made to end a game. He sealed the Dodgers' 3-2 victory over the San Diego Padres on April 29 with a similar grab.

On Saturday, Gwynn said he had a special source of motivation: a trash-talking fan.

After Young lined into the double play in the ninth inning, Gwynn said he taunted the fan who had berated him throughout the game.

"I put my glove on my back side and acted as if was a mouth," he said.

But ?

"Never fails," Gwynn said. "Every time I start popping off, the other team rallies. I was thinking to myself, 'Oh God, what did I do?' "

So Gwynn said that when he caught the ball, he couldn't wait to get up and search the stands for the trash-talking fan.

"I just winked at him," Gwynn said.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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