MILWAUKEE — The Dee Gordon effect was evident in the eighth inning Wednesday night, as Milwaukee Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez could attest.
With the score tied and Gordon having just stolen second base, Rodriguez spun three times and threw behind Gordon to second baseman Rickie Weeks, just to keep the speedy Gordon — the potential go-ahead run — closer to the bag.
Milwaukee defeated the Dodgers, 3-2, in 10 innings, but the moment reaffirmed how Gordon's blazing speed can rattle opposing teams, and why it's crucial to the Dodgers' hopes this season that Gordon, their leadoff batter, get on base.
Trouble is, Gordon so far has been inconsistent in reaching base. Although he now has a big league-leading eight stolen bases, his batting average is .208 after he was one for four Wednesday night. His on-base percentage before the game was a less-than-stellar .271.
But Manager Don Mattingly said "it's going to be up and down" with Gordon, who turns 24 on Sunday. "He hasn't really swung the bat yet. He's gotten a few hits. But for the most part he's just been OK at home plate."
Still, Gordon is making strides, Mattingly said.
"He does understand now when to take" pitches, Mattingly said. "You're seeing him in counts where he should be making that [pitcher] work to lead off an inning, especially being patient, and making the guy throw a strike."
Said Gordon: "I'm definitely not worried about [how often he has gotten on base so far]. That's going to get me nowhere. What are we, 12 games in? The only thing I'm worried about is winning. If we're winning, my numbers will be there."
Mattingly said he could accept Gordon's inconsistency at getting on base.
"There are going to be stretches where he's swinging the bad good, there are going to be stretches where he struggles a little bit," Mattingly said. "You got to be prepared to live with all that.
"If we can gain an inch a day over the course of the season with Dee, by the end of the year we've gained a lot."
With the Dodgers scheduled to play a day game Thursday against the Brewers, Mattingly opted to start Tony Gwynn Jr. instead of Juan Rivera in left field, and Jerry Hairston Jr. instead of Juan Uribe at third base, Wednesday.
The moves were intended not only to give the Dodgers two right-handed bats Thursday against left-hander Randy Wolf, but also to rest Rivera and Uribe.
Rivera did play Wednesday as a replacement in the seventh inning.
Mattingly said Matt Treanor likely would catch Thursday to rest A.J. Ellis.