Blake’s two-run homer lifts Dodgers over Giants
SAN FRANCISCO – Dodgers manager Joe Torre spoke with coach Don Mattingly on Monday and both were optimistic that Los Angeles would bounce back from a demoralizing loss to the New York Yankees a day earlier in which they blew a late four-run lead.
“He had a good feeling and I did too that these guys were going to come out and bust their tails,” Torre said.
They were right.
Casey Blake hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning, Manny Ramirez had an RBI double among his three hits and the Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants 4-2 on Monday night.
Did it help the Dodgers that they left interleague play behind and immediately headed to the home ballpark of their biggest rival?
“Maybe just knowing we’ve got a million games left in the season,” Blake said. “We’re not going to let one game get us down and ruin our season. It’s nice to get back in the National League and back in our division.”
Blake connected for his eighth home run with a two-run drive to the left-field bleachers off Santiago Casilla (1-2), his first clout in 25 games since May 26.
“Oh my gosh, I don’t want to talk about that,” said Blake, who had only three RBIs during that drought. “It seems every year I’ll go a monthlong period without a home run or RBI. It’s frustrating.”
The Dodgers matched a Los Angeles record by turning five double plays on the way to their third win in 11 games.
“We’re finding ways to get into them,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of the double-play balls. “We’ve put guys in motion and we’re missing the pitch. Those hurt, they stop rallies.”
Los Angeles’ first visit of the season to AT&T Park featured a typical close contest between the NL West rivals. It was the teams’ first meeting since April 18, when Los Angeles beat Barry Zito 2-1. Zito received a no-decision this time.
Jeff Weaver (5-1) pitched a scoreless seventh for the win, working out of a jam with runners on first and third and no outs.
The Dodgers turned five double plays for the 11th time and first since Sept. 4, 2007, against the Cubs. The franchise record is six, set on Aug. 5, 1956.
Hong-Chih Kuo filled in as closer for the Dodgers, escaping trouble for his second save. Juan Uribe drew a one-out walk and Aaron Rowand singled to put runners on the corners. Buster Posey struck out and Edgar Renteria flied out to end it.
Andre Ethier tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the third inning and then Ramirez hit a go-ahead double, but it didn’t hold.
Freddy Sanchez hit a tying RBI single in the sixth for San Francisco, which began a key stretch of seven straight games against division foes having lost its last three series.
Travis Ishikawa hit a pinch-hit bloop double that dropped just fair and well in front of the slow-charging Ramirez in left with one out in the sixth, then Sanchez singled two batters later.
The Giants missed an opportunity in the seventh when Renteria flied out to shallow right and Los Angeles wound up turning a double play. On Renteria’s fly, Pablo Sandoval was caught in a rundown between first and second. He had singled on a 12-pitch at-bat.
Pat Burrell singled to start the inning, his second hit of the game, then Rowand entered to pinch-run.
“Pablo thought Row was heading home,” Bochy said. “The way he broke, it looked like it. When he realized he wasn’t, he got caught. You can’t fault him for being aggressive.”
Zito finished June with one win in six starts and had lost his last two before Monday’s no-decision. The lefty allowed two runs and six hits in six innings, struck out six and walked two.
Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley came off the disabled list following a right groin injury to make his first start since June 11. He is winless in his last four outings.
Billingsley allowed two runs and five hits in six innings, struck out three and walked two.
“That’s the old Billingsley,” Torre said.
Los Angeles center fielder Matt Kemp was held out of the lineup for the second straight day, though he came in for defense in the ninth. Torre said he wanted to stick with the same players who did well in Sunday night’s 8-6, 10-inning loss to the Yankees.
Kemp is batting .196 in June and Torre is going with those who are most productive.
“We’re trying to get on a little bit of a run,” he said. “We’re trying to build on something right now.”
NOTES: Dodgers C Russell Martin had the day off but was expected to start Tuesday night. He is 6 for 31 vs. Zito. James Loney also sat as he is 1 for 20 against Zito. … The Dodgers are 19-5 vs. the division. … L.A. closer Jonathan Broxton was scheduled to have two games off after throwing 48 pitches Sunday. … Bochy planned to speak to ace Tim Lincecum after the two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner was knocked out after a season-low three innings Sunday against the Red Sox. “That game’s behind him,” Bochy said. … Los Angeles went 5-4 at AT&T Park last season.
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