LOS ANGELES -- Four days after being roundly criticized for essentially blowing two late-inning rallies with sacrifice bunts that didn't lead to runs in a one-run loss to the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly called for another one in the bottom of the eighth inning on Saturday night. This one had a slightly different result.
After A.J. Ellis advanced James Loney to second following a leadoff single, Tony Gwynn delivered a pinch-hit single to bring Loney home from second with the winning run in the Dodgers' 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies before 33,735 on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium, leaving the fast-starting Dodgers with baseball's best record at 22-11.
Gwynn's timely hit made sure that a stellar performance by Aaron Harang wasn't wasted. The veteran right-hander pitched eight strong innings, allowing only four hits, although one of those was a game-tying, solo homer by Tyler Colvin in the seventh inning. Kenley Jansen finished off the heart of the Rockies order -- Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton -- in the ninth for his third save, his first in his first opportunity since Mattingly announced earlier this week that Jansen would take over the closer's role from Javy Guerra.
Web gem. For all the criticism he takes as a hitter, Loney continues to make the case that he is a potential Gold Glove first baseman. With a runner on third and one out in the third, he went to his knees to snare a smash by Marco Scutaro, then got up and fired home in plenty of time to cut down Wilin Rosario at the plate, keeping the game scoreless. The Rockies would leave the bases loaded that inning, making Loney's play loom all the larger.
Web gem II. For all the criticism he takes as a hitter, Juan Uribe continues to make the case that he is a more-than-adequate third baseman. He ended the top of the fourth by reaching over a railing in front of the Dodgers dugout to grab a foul pop by Colvin.
Rifle arm. Ellis threw out Rosario trying to steal second in the fifth inning on what was supposed to be sacrifice bunt -- Juan Nicasio failed to make contact with the pitch. Ellis has now thrown out a remarkable 45.5 percent (10 of 22) of the runners who have attempted to steal against the Dodgers this season with him behind the plate.
One mistake. Chalk it up to the perils of poor run support, but Harang was cruising through a remarkable performance -- right up until he gave up a two-out, solo homer to Colvin in the seventh inning, tying the score at 1-1. Before that, Harang had given up just three hits and essentially had been dominating the Rockies despite the razor-thin lead.
Still struggling. Dee Gordon, who may not be long for the leadoff spot, continued to fail to get on base, striking out, grounding out and popping up in four at-bats. In the past three games, Gordon is 0-for-14 with five strikeouts, hardly what the Dodgers need from their leadoff man. The most likely replacement, if Mattingly is ready to make a switch, would be second baseman Mark Ellis, who now has a six-game hitting streak and began the day 10th in the National League in on-base percentage (.389).
Also still struggling. Matt Kemp hit the you-know-what out of two balls in a row in the fourth and seventh innings. Alas, both of them died in midair and wound up in Colvin's glove on the center-field warning track. Kemp is now hitless in his past 12 at-bats.