Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley went seven innings against the Phillies… (Brian Garfinkel / Getty…)
If these Dodgers are a wonder team, as Vin Scully has suggested, Elian Herrera is emerging as the team’s most unexpected wonder boy.
Herrera had spent almost nine years bouncing around in the minor leagues. He wasn’t even close to being considered a top prospect. Most team followers probably had never heard of him. He was as close to a no-name as you can imagine.
And now he’s just shy of being a sensation, never more so than Tuesday when he shattered a Cliff Lee shutout and helped the Dodgers overcome what was building as a nightmarish eighth inning, with a two-run double that propelled them to an improbable 2-1 victory in Philadelphia.
Herrera, 27, was billed as something of a poor man’s Jerry Hairston Jr., someone who could play multiple positions and provide some scrappy play. But Herrera seems to do something right every night and is that modern-day rarity -- a seasoned rookie.
Elian Herrera, meet Sweet Lou Johnson.
Herrera got a surprise call-up on May 14 and has done nothing but impress. He is batting .294 and has played second, third and center.
Chad Billingsley was pitching his best game in two months Tuesday, but because of a shaky first inning when he gave up a run on a Jimmy Rollins double and Hunter Pence single, was losing.
After seven innings, Lee was making the one run hold up for a 1-0 Philadelphia lead.
Then in the top of the eighth inning, the Dodgers seemed determined to blow their best scoring opportunity. Matt Treanor led off with a double, but Manager Don Mattingly continued his exasperating habit of trying to bunt over a runner from second with no outs. Lee fielded Tony Gwynn Jr.’s bunt and threw Treanor out at third.
Bobby Abreu then singled to right and Hunter made an excellent throw to get Gwynn trying to take third base. That’s two outs at third.
Dee Gordon singled to right, this time Abreu holding at second, to bring up Herrera. He fouled off a pair of two-strike pitches before jumping on a hanging curve, drilling it off the left-field wall. Juan Pierre had a shot at it, but mistimed his jump at the wall.
Both runners scored, and the Dodgers had a dramatic 2-1 lead.
Billingsley (3-4) won his first game in two months, holding the Phillies to the one run on six hits, a walk and three strikeouts. After Josh Lindblom pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth, Kenley Jansen set the Phillies down in the ninth to earn his eighth save.
Lee, who had surrendered only one run in 29 1/3 career innings against the Dodgers entering the eighth, was left a stunning 0-3 on the season.
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