Dodgers reliever Javy Guerra celebrates after getting the final out against… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
With the Dodgers clinging to a one-run lead in hopes of ending a five-game losing streak, Manager Don Mattingly turned to 25-year-old reliever Javy Guerra, who has one month of big league experience.
Guerra responded by retiring the Houston Astros in order in the ninth inning Sunday to help the Dodgers win, 1-0, and to earn his second save since being called up from double-A Chattanooga and making his major league debut May 15.
Guerra said he tried to have "tunnel vision" and "focus on the strike zone" so as not to think about the danger of the Dodgers' losing streak reaching six games if he'd blown the save.
"I try not to let everything come into play," Guerra said.
With Jonathan Broxton still on the disabled list, Mattingly was asked whether Guerra was the Dodgers' closer. Mattingly said he wasn't making that declaration but that "in general we're trying to get to [Guerra]" in late innings. "He's pitched well."
Guerra's first save also came against the Astros, in Houston, on May 24. His earned-run average is 2.70.
Catcher Rod Barajas was put on the 15-day disabled list because of a sprained right ankle and was replaced on the roster by catcher A.J. Ellis, who was called up from triple-A Albuquerque.
The Dodgers also activated reliever Hong-Chih Kuo from the disabled list and sent reliever Ramon Troncoso to Albuquerque.
Barajas twisted his ankle Saturday against the Astros while chasing a wild pitch by reliever Mike MacDougal.
Before Sunday's game, Barajas was hobbling through the Dodgers clubhouse wearing a black medical boot to keep the ankle stabilized.
Mattingly said the injury wasn't as serious as trainer Stan Conte originally feared, and he hoped Barajas would be able to return after 15 days.
"Last night, the term [Conte] used was 'significant,' today he sounded more encouraged," Mattingly said, adding that X-rays of the ankle showed no broken bones.
Conte "was encouraged this morning that it wasn't going to be a long, three- to four-week type of thing," Mattingly said.
Among other Dodgers on the disabled list, shortstop Rafael Furcal (strained left side muscle) is not close to a rehabilitation assignment in the minor leagues but has been "swinging a little bit, starting to throw, extend, doing some conditioning-type things," Mattingly said. … Pitcher Jon Garland (sore shoulder) has not yet started a rehab throwing program because trainers "want to wait and try to get the pain out" of the shoulder first, Mattingly said. … Third base coach Tim Wallach was not at Sunday's game because of the death of his father, the Dodgers said. Dave Hansen coached third.