Dodgers-Cardinals: Haeger Throws Well, But to No Avail in 3-2 Loss

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Dodgers-Cardinals: Haeger Throws Well, But to No Avail in 3-2 Loss

In a matchup of what Vin Scully deemed “David vs. Goliath,” David held his own in a game that had the feeling of October to it.

Knuckleball pitcher Charlie Haeger took the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers tonight against former Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Between Haeger and Carpenter, there was just one walk issued, which came on an intentional walk to Manny Ramirez in the first inning.

Haeger got help early when the Dodgers (70-49), who have now outscored opponents 89-40 in the first inning, put one on the board against Carpenter and the Cards (68-52) in the opening frame.

Rafael Furcal started the game by bouncing a single up the middle. After loading the bases, he came home on a sacrifice fly by Casey Blake, but on the play Ryan Ludwick threw Andre Ethier out trying to advance to third from right field.

The play ended another scoring opportunity, but also nudged Los Angeles in front, 1-0.

Furcal then saved a run in the top of the third when he made a diving stab on a shot by Brendan Ryan. Furcal turned onto his side just enough to fire a strike to second base to force out Skip Schumacher.

Haeger, with a 1-0 lead and making his first Major League start since May 10, 2006 retired the first eight batters and made only two mistakes in the game.

Those mistakes were costly, though, as each resulted in home runs from Albert Pujols and Rick Ankiel.

The first came in the fourth inning when Pujols obliterated a knuckleball far over the left field wall to tie the game at 1-1.

The Dodgers would grab the lead back in the fifth for Haeger at 2-1 when James Loney singled home Matt Kemp, who had just doubled to start the inning.

Haeger beared down after the Pujols home run and, working with another lead, retired 10 batters in a row until he hit Ludwick with one out in the seventh.

The hit batsman led to the second mistake—Ankiel came up next and blasted a long home run, three-quarters of the way up the right field pavilion, to give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead.

In the blink of an eye, the homer stole the lead and the possible win from the 25-year-old out of Missouri.

Haeger would come out after recording the final two outs and working seven innings with marvelous control. He walked none (but hit the one batter that scored) and struck out two while tossing an economic 80 pitches on the night.

The youngster did all you could ask of him, keeping the Dodgers close, surrendering three runs on five hits, and allowing the team a chance to win the game in the late-innings.

Pinch-hitter Juan Pierre singled to begin the eighth but Carpenter, who let leadoff batters in the first and fifth score, stranded Pierre on second base when he left both Furcal and Orlando Hudson standing with the bats on their shoulders at home plate.

The back-to-back strikeouts capped off the night for Carpenter with the lead still intact and an excellent eight-inning effort under his belt.

Ryan Franklin came on for the final two outs and his 39th save of the season. He survived a long drive by Blake that was eventually run down in deep left center field to end the game.

Chad Billingsley (11-6, 3.73) will return to the mound tomorrow night after missing last Wednesday’s start, and being bumped from tonight’s start, with a strained hamstring.

He will face the Cardinals’ Mitch Boggs (1-1, 3.78) in the second game of the three-game tilt.

 

 

 

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WP: Carpenter (13-3)

LP: Haeger (0-1)

SV: Franklin (30)

 

Notes from Monday night

 

Ironic Times

Charlie Haeger, who started tonight’s game for the injured Chad Billingsley, recorded his last Major League hit last September—against Billingsley at Dodger Stadium. Haeger became the 10th starter to toe the rubber for the team this season (the team used 11 starters in ’08).

 

Bird Hunting

Amongst players with 150 plate appearances against the Cardinals, Rafael Furcal led all active players entering tonight with a .360 average (70-for-200) against the Red Birds. Not surprisingly, he went 1-for-3 tonight.

 

Kuroda Improving, Sent Home Early

The Dodgers announced that Hiroki Kuroda would indeed miss his start in Thursday. He was at the park before the game tonight, but was sent home early to get extra rest.

 

PJ Ross is a Featured Columnist for the Los Angeles Dodgers

 

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