Dodgers celebrate Juan Rivera's pinch-hit, walk-off double. (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)
Moments like this have been so rare of late, you wondered if the Dodgers remembered how to pull it off.
Certainly, things were looking less than promising Saturday night, down by a run, down to their last out in the bottom of the ninth inning, bases empty. Then some lost pixie dust was found.
Andre Ethier singled, Dee Gordon ran for him and scored on a double by growing legend Luis Cruz just beyond the diving reach of center fielder Jon Jay and then the Dodgers won it when pinch-hitter Juan Rivera, an almost forgotten player the last month, lined a double off the glove of leaping second baseman Daniel Descalso to score pinch-runner Elian Herrera.
And the Dodgers had a stunning, desperatedly needed 4-3 victory over the Cardinals before a Dodger Stadium crowd of 42,449.
The victory enabled the Dodgers to tie the Cardinals for the National League's second wild-card spot.
So on the same day the Dodgers learned Cy Young-winner Clayton Kershaw’s sore hip would force him out of his next scheduled start and instead send him packing for a New York specialist, they managed some much needed good news.
The game almost turned on a double play that did not happen.
The score was tied 2-2 when right-hander Joe Blanton walked opposing pitcher Jaime Garcia to lead off the sixth inning. Since a two-run homer by Allen Craig in the first inning, Blanton had retired 13 consecutive batters before walking Garcia.
A Jay single left Garcia at second base before Blanton struck out Matt Carpenter. That brought up Matt Holliday, who sent a bouncer to shortstop Hanley Ramirez that appeared to be a double-play ball. Ramirez, who did not charge the grounder, threw to Mark Ellis at second base, who fired back to Adrian Gonzalez at first.
Veteran umpire Dana DeMuth ruled Holliday safe on an extremely close play. Manager Don Mattingly argued to no avail. The next hitter, Craig, singled to left to score Garcia and give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead.
The Dodgers had fought back from that 2-0 deficit in the first inning with a run in the bottom of the inning and one more in the third.
In the bottom of the first inning, Shane Victorino was safe on a Descalso’s throwing error. Victorino stole second and scored on a Gonzalez single.
The Dodgers tied the score in the third inning on Mark Ellis’ sixth home run of the season.
Before the game began, the Dodgers learned Kershaw’s sore right hip would force him to miss his scheduled start Sunday in the series finale against the Cardinals. After the Dodgers fly to Washington on Monday, Kershaw will go on to New York to be examined by Dr. Bryan Kelly. It’s uncertain when Kershaw will pitch next.
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