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Dodgers beat Padres, 5-4, in wild game

Dee Gordon's bases-loaded single in the ninth inning drives in the winning run after L.A. turned a triple play in the top half of the inning on a disputed play.

April 15, 2012|By Kevin Baxter

On the day A.J. Elliswas born 31 years ago, the Dodgers beat the Houston Astros, starting a streak in which they opened the season with nine wins in 10 games.

That wouldn't happen again until Sunday, when the Dodgers outlasted the San Diego Padres, 5-4, in a game that featured a bizarre triple play started by Ellis, then ended five batters later on a walk-off single by Dee Gordon.

"Just a wild game," Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said.

Wild enough to include Matt Kemp's seventh multi-hit game and sixth home run this season, 11 pitchers, 15 walks and 340 pitches over 3 hours 43 minutes, the Dodgers' longest nine-inning game in more than 10 months.

Yet, the game turned on a play that happened so quickly few people could agree for sure about what they had seen.

With the score tied, 4-4, the Padres had two baserunners on and no one out in the ninth inning and Jesus Guzman at the plate. Expecting a bunt, reliever Javy Guerra threw a high, inside fastball that Guzman somehow got his bat on — and that's when things got hazy.

The Padres insisted plate umpire Dale Scott lifted his hands to signal a foul ball, so the baserunners stayed in place.

"He called foul and then waved," Guzman said.

Ellis, with his back to the plate, said he neither saw nor heard anything. So he picked up the ball and threw it to third baseman Juan Uribe for the first out and by the time the ball reached first baseman James Loney, the Dodgers had their first triple play since 1998.

"One thing we learn is you keep playing. You don't assume anything," Ellis said. "As soon as I got the ball to Juan, I saw nobody else running, I thought 'it's going to be a triple play.' Let's get off the field as quick as we can and let them sort it out."

The Dodgers' good fortune continued in the bottom of the inning when a bloop single, a sacrifice bunt and two walks loaded the bases for Gordon, who lined an 0-and-2 pitch to the opposite field to drive in Juan Rivera with the winning run.

That also capped an eventful day for the Dodgers shortstop, who stole two bases and scored once but also struck out twice and misplayed two grounders, helping San Diego chase starter Clayton Kershaw after 51/3 innings in which he gave up four runs, the most he has given up in a game since Aug. 7 — which is the last time he lost.

"I'm proud of him," Kemp said of Gordon, who has the neighboring locker in the Dodgers' clubhouse. "I always tell him if things get tough at the beginning, you still have a chance to win the game. So keep going, keep pushing."

Kemp has been doing that too, following last year's triple-crown chase with a burst out of the gate that has him leading the majors in eight offensive categories, including average (.487), home runs (six), runs (13) and runs batted in (16).

"It's very early. It's a long season," he said. "If you have some success, you have to do what you did that previous season [but] you have to work harder. Because guys are gunning for you, they're trying to get you out.

"I've got a lot of work to do."

So, apparently, do the Dodgers. Because the last time they started a season this well they ended it by winning the World Series.

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