Scott Van Slyke hit his first career home run in his ninth major league at… (Gus Ruelas / Associated…)
Greatest managerial move of the year: The Dodgers were down by two in the seventh inning Sunday, had two runners on and a 3-0 count on rookie pinch-hitter Scott Van Slyke.
And Manager Don Mattingly let him swing away.
Van Slyke did not disappoint, absolutely tagging a Marc Rzepczynski changeup deep into the left-field pavilion. It was only his ninth at-bat in the majors and first home run.
The three-run homer gave the Dodgers a 6-5, come-from-behind victory and a sweep of the world champion St. Louis Cardinals before an announced crowd of 44,005 and pushed their division lead over the Giants to seven games.
Van Slyke is the Dodgers’ reigning minor league player of the year and son of former major leaguer Andy Van Slyke, who was in attendance. Scott Van Slyke had never even driven in a run until Sunday.
The victory pushed the Dodgers’ record to a baseball-best 28-13 and a season-high 15 games over .500. It was their fifth series sweep of the season.
Van Slyke had seen little action since being called up May 9 when Juan Rivera went on the disabled list with a ruptured hamstring. He had appeared in just seven games, going 2 for 8 (.250).
But after one-out singles by fellow rookie Elian Herrera and Bobby Abreu off Victor Marte, the Cardinals called on left-handed Rzepczynski to face left-handed hitting Andre Ethier. Which worked swell when Ethier struck out swinging.
Then the Cards kept the left-hander in to pitch to the right-handed hitting Van Slyke, which did not work so well. Rzepczynski quickly fell behind 3-0 and Van Slyke was given the green light.
Boom, it rocketed out and the Dodgers had another unlikely victory.
Javy Guerra (2-3) picked up the win in relief of Chad Billingsley, who pitched only fair, giving up five runs (three earned) in six innings on eight hits. Josh Lindblom pitched a scoreless eighth and Kenley Jansen the same in the ninth to pick up his fifth save.
Herrera and Abreu each had three hits for the Dodgers to lead a 14-hit attack. Ethier and James Loney each drove in one run.
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