Dodgers feel good with win despite closer question
LA rallies in 10th after League's blown save takes win from Kershaw
DENVER -- With the exception of a closer controversy that rages on, the Dodgers were feeling pretty good Friday night, not only because of an extra-inning win, but the way they did it.
After Brandon League allowed a two-run pinch-hit homer to Todd Helton to tie the game with one out in the bottom of the ninth, wasting seven-plus solid innings from Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers rebounded with two runs in the 10th, and Ronald Belisario made it stand for his fourth career save and a 7-5 win against the Rockies.
"We had a lead and losing it, it would have been real easy to lay down. But the boys bounced back," said manager Don Mattingly, who saw more grit from a lineup loaded with lesser names. "One thing I'm proud of, they're showing fight, battling. We lost the last two games in Anaheim, but we played good games, just didn't do enough, but we hung in there. There's a ton of baseball left."
What role League will play remains unclear. Mattingly wouldn't say yes or no when asked if League remains his closer.
"Every time we have one of these, you guys talk about changing it up," he said. "It's hard to talk about that right after the game."
With Matt Kemp nursing a hamstring strain in Arizona, Hanley Ramirez rehabbing in Bakersfield, Calif., and Carl Crawford and A.J. Ellis banged up, the reserves came through.
Juan Uribe, the old third baseman who is new again, continued one of the great recent comebacks with two hits and two RBIs, including one in the 10th. Skip Schumaker, starting in center for Kemp, had a pair of hits to extend his streak to eight games, including a single in the 10th-inning rally.
The 10th inning opened with the second hit of the game from Ramon Hernandez, catching instead of Ellis. Scott Van Slyke, starting for Crawford in left field, had a pair of hits. And Luis Cruz, most likely to be designated for assignment a week ago, brought home the go-ahead run in the 10th with a sharp groundout knocked down by pitcher Rafael Betancourt.
None of it overlooks the contribution of Kershaw, who was headed toward his sixth win when he left after also hitting a two-run double to go with a single.
Kershaw said the night was a battle, because when he reached back for something extra, it wasn't there. He struck out five, all swings and misses at sliders, including a big one of Carlos Gonzalez with two on in the seventh.
"I didn't have a whole lot," said Kershaw. "My fastball was not good, command not great. Kind of fought my way through it."
Kershaw was charged with three runs, struck out five, walked two and brought his ERA to 1.85.
The Dodgers provided him a three-run rally in the third inning around a Uribe double and singles by Mark Ellis, who hit leadoff, and Adrian Gonzalez, then tacked on two more in the fourth on one of Kershaw's two hits, all off former Dodger Jon Garland.
The third inning opened with Garland hitting Cruz on the right middle finger with a pitch. Uribe doubled inside third to score Cruz. Kershaw bunted Uribe to third and Ellis singled him home. Ellis stole second, Andre Ethier walked and Gonzalez singled, scoring Ellis.
The Dodgers turned another leadoff baserunner into a run in the fourth, when Van Slyke doubled, Uribe walked intentionally with two out to bring up Kershaw, who doubled them home.
"He left an off-speed pitch up in the zone, and I put a good swing on it," said Kershaw, whose average is up to .241.
Kershaw allowed singles to the first two batters in the eighth -- Dexter Fowler and Troy Tulowitzki -- and was replaced by Kenley Jansen, who put down that rally with one of them scoring. On came League for the ninth with a two-run lead, but with one out, he allowed a single to DJ LeMahieu. He got ahead of Helton with a 1-2 count, but the Colorado legend fouled off five pitches before blasting the 11th pitch for a towering homer and League's third blown save.
"I loved the way our guys fought back against a really good pitcher and kept competing," said Colorado manager Walt Weiss.
Mattingly defended League on the Helton at-bat.
"We seem to have been better with set roles, back in the position of not having a tryout camp every night," he said. "We'll look at it again, but I thought Brandon threw the ball well. Todd did this a couple years ago to Javy [Guerra]. Give him a little credit. He's still a tough out. I hate to make a decision on something like that now."