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Aaron Harang sets consecutive strikeout record in Dodgers' win

The starter strikes out nine batters in a row after a leadoff hit, but the 9-8 victory comes on a walk-off walk in ninth inning.

April 13, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez

Aaron Harang lasted only 41/3 innings in his Dodgers debut last week.

"I didn't look at it as a typical game for me," Harang said.

So, was what Harang did Friday night in the Dodgers' bizarre 9-8 walk-off victory over the San Diego Padres more typical?

"I wish I could say yes," he said, laughing.

Facing the team he pitched for last season, Harang did something no Dodgers pitcher before him had done -- not Sandy Koufax, not Don Drysdale, not Fernando Valenzuela.

Over a stretch that started in the first inning and ended in the fourth, the 33-year-old newcomer struck out nine consecutive batters, breaking an all-time franchise record that lasted almost half a century. The previous standard of eight was established by World Series hero Johnny Podres on July 2, 1962, against the Philadelphia Phillies.

But on this Friday the 13th, Harang's run at Tom Seaver's major league record of 10 consecutive strikeouts was only one element of a wild night. The game's finish was as wild as the start was spectacular. Stand-in closer Kenley Jansen served up an equalizing two-run home run to Chase Headley with two outs in the ninth inning, only for the Dodgers to literally walk off with the victory in the bottom of the inning by drawing four consecutive free passes.

The fourth and final walk was drawn by Andre Ethier, who collected his 12th career walk-off run batted in. The Dodgers improved their major league-leading record to 7-1.

"At the end of the day, it's a W," Manager Don Mattingly said. "It doesn't matter how you get it."

Based on how Harang started the game, there were no indications such late-inning heroics would be necessary. He gave up a leadoff single in the first inning to Cameron Maybin, then proceeded to strike out the next nine batters. He finished the game with 13 strikeouts, matching a career high he set while pitching for the Cincinnati Reds against the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 29, 2007.

"I didn't notice what was going on," Harang said. "You kind of get in that zone."

The first six of them struck out swinging: Will Venable, Headley, Yonder Alonso, Jeremy Heredia, Orlando Hudson and John Baker.

Harang started the third inning by striking out Jason Bartlett looking on a 3-2 pitch. Pitcher Clayton Richard and Maybin also went down on strikes.

"That was pretty wild," Mattingly said.

But the Dodgers scored four runs in the bottom of the third inning to take a 4-0 lead, which forced Harang to sit on the bench for an extended period in the cold. (The temperature at the time of the first pitch was 54 degrees.) When he returned to the mound for the fourth inning, he promptly served up a towering home run to Venable that cleared the left-field wall.

Harang was charged with two more runs that inning, as he gave up a walk and a pair of doubles. The Dodgers' lead was down to 4-3.

The Dodgers added four more runs in the bottom of fourth, which Justin Sellers and A.J. Ellis led off with back-to-back doubles. The surge culminated with a two-run home run by Matt Kemp, which extended the Dodgers' advantage to 8-3.

Jansen's late-inning shocker was set up by a hideous seventh inning, in which Harang, Todd Coffey and Scott Elbert combined to give up three runs. The lead was down to 8-6.

On the whole, Harang's performance turned out to be somewhat uneven. He was charged with four runs and four hits in 61/3 innings.

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