LOS ANGELES -- They don't dedicate bronze statues for swingmen, but on Jackie Robinson Day Alex Wood had a moment to shine.Taking over for a wobbly Kenta Maeda, Wood fired 3 1/3 innings of hitless relief to earn the win Saturday night, as the Dodgers beat the D-backs, 8-4.Making it more
LOS ANGELES -- They don't dedicate bronze statues for swingmen, but on Jackie Robinson Day Alex Wood had a moment to shine.
Taking over for a wobbly Kenta Maeda, Wood fired 3 1/3 innings of hitless relief to earn the win Saturday night, as the Dodgers beat the D-backs, 8-4.
Making it more improbable is that three hours before he pitched in the game, while the statue of Jackie Robinson was being unveiled in front of MLB elite at Dodger Stadium, Wood was throwing a bullpen session because he hadn't pitched since a Monday start in Chicago and he didn't want to get rusty.
"To be honest with you, Alex saved the game tonight," said closer Kenley Jansen, whose four-out save made him only one of many Dodgers heroes on the night devoted to the one and only. "He gave us 3 1/3 innings while it was a one-run game, he was the difference."
Until Friday, Wood was preparing to start Sunday's game as he did Monday's, filling in for the injured Rich Hill. But Hill said his blister is healed, he will be activated to make Sunday's start and it was back to the bullpen for Wood.
"The battle for me is with the offspeed, but it was coming out for me pretty good," said Wood. "I was happy tonight with the changeup. I haven't really thrown too much. Maybe 5 2/3 in three weeks. I was frustrated with the [five] walks I had on Monday. That's unlike me, so I was glad I righted the ship tonight."
Wood was brought in because of another disappointing Maeda start. He allowed four runs in four innings and manager Dave Roberts pinch-hit Scott Van Slyke for Maeda.
"The velocity was still good, but there were some misses in there I didn't like seeing," Roberts said of Maeda. "The curve was up and there were misses with secondary pitches I didn't feel good about. Right there, the top of the order coming up, dominant left-handed hitters and Alex Wood with four days' rest, I felt he could give us three innings and get to the back-end guys for us. My eyes told me it was time for Woody to relieve Kenta."
Maeda has a 7.07 ERA in three starts, none longer than five innings. Maeda said this is one of the slowest starts of his career.
On the flip side, the offense was able to win its second game this year started by an opposing left-handed pitcher, Patrick Corbin. Austin Barnes slugged his first career home run (and almost missed first base watching it), plus Yasiel Puig slugged his fourth home run, drove in four and reached base safely four times. He's 6-for-12 in his last four games.
"The home runs come from the patience, being patient at the plate, selecting the right pitches, and that's reason why I've been having the success that I've had," said Puig.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989,
and for MLB.com since 2001.