The A’s (28-37) ran out yet another impressive young rookie starter. Vin Mazzaro pitched an excellent six innings, striking out five and walking just one Dodger batter. He scattered five hits, and kept the Dodgers (44-23) off balance for most of the night.
The most costly blow came when Orlando Hudson got the Dodgers on the board with a solo home run in the third.
Mazzaro, however, limited his pitch count to 93 tosses and followed up his two of his rookie teammates stellar performances. Trevor Cahill earned a victory on Wednesday night, and Dallas Braden saw a six inning, two run effort go to waste two nights ago when the game was lost by the bullpen (and, ironically, rookie Andrew Bailey).
The most bizarre play of the night unfolded in the top of the seventh with Los Angeles ahead, 2-1.
Nomar Garciaparra blooped a single down the left field line. Hudson and Juan Pierre gave chase, but the ball dropped just fair between the two. Pierre retrieved the ball, and Hudson instructed him to throw the ball to second to head-off Nomar and prevent a double.
The only problem was that Rajai Davis read the ball perfectly, and took off from first base on contact. As Pierre lofted the ball to second, Davis accelerated around third and scored easily in front of the throw. Nomar actually didn’t receive an RBI on the play, because it was ruled a fielder’s choice when Pierre elected to throw to second.
That sequence evened the game at 2-2.
Wolf worked a dangerous six innings but managed to allow just one run. The A’s leadoff hitter reached base in five of Wolf’s six innings, but the only one to come around was Bobby Crosby on Kurt Suzuki’s laser beam double in the third.
The Dodgers rallied back in the bottom half of the seventh when Brad Ziegler relieved Mazzaro.
James Loney placed a ground ruled double to left field, and following a Russell Martin walk, pinch-hitter Mark Loretta skipped a seeing-eye single into left field to plate Loney and regain the lead at 3-2.
Loretta leads the major leagues in pinch-hits, with nine on the season.
Ronald Belisario pitched a perfect eighth and Torre sent him back out for the ninth to close the game. Torre could have opted to use Ramon Troncoso, but Troncoso was taken deep the night before by two of the A’s hitters due up in the ninth (Jason Giambi and Bobby Crosby).
Belisario got Giambi to fly out to left, and after an Orlando Cabrera single, A’s manager Bob Geren sent out pinch-hitter Ryan Sweeney for Crosby. Torre countered by going to the pen, where he called on Troncoso now that Crosby had exited the game.
Troncoso threw just two pitches, and Sweeney grounded into a 5-4-3 double play, the fourth turned by the Dodgers on the night, to secure another one-run win.
It was the fourth save of the season for Troncoso.
Other Notes from Thursday night:
Move Over, Sparky
Joe Torre moved ahead of Sparky Anderson to take sole possession of fifth place on the all-time wins list for managers. Torre now has 2, 195 wins, six pennants, and four World Series championships. He was also named AL Manager of the Year twice with the Yankees.
Next on the list: Bobby Cox, who continues to add to his total of 2, 357.
Sore Toe Keeps Broxton Sidelined for an Extra Night
Jonathan Broxton was given another night off following a toe injury on his right foot. It appears to be nothing serious, but Torre wanted to make sure the big guy is feeling strong the next time he gets the ball.
Another Outing, Another No Decision
Randy Wolf earned another no decision on Thursday night. It was his 10th of the season in just 15 starts. Wolf left with a 2-1 lead after six innings. It was the third time this season Wolf has left with a lead after six innings and received a no decision.
Leach Makes It a Quickie
Left-handed specialist Brent Leach pitched two thirds of an inning, and fired only two pitches on the night. In his last 11 appearances, Leach has stymied hitters to a .083 avg. (2-23) and only one run has scored in those outings. He also earned his second victory of the season.
After dropping a rare one-run game on Wednesday night, the Dodgers’ were back to their nail-biting ways with a one-run win to closeout the series. They are now 13-2 at Dodger Stadium in such games, and 16-6 on the season.
Finishing on a High Note
The Dodgers’ win made it their eighth in the last 11 series finales. The Blue Crew is 13-4-5 this season in all series.
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