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Saturday, July 14, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Padres 7, Dodgers 6

By Andy Kamenetzky

LOS ANGELES -- Well, if it's any comfort for Dodgers fans, if the Blue are going to lose, at least let defeat come with serious points for originality. I mean, any closer (in this case, Kenley Jansen) can simply blow a save opportunity.

But to blow a save on a sequence where Everth Cabrera scores the tying run by stealing home, followed by Will Venable scoring the winning run off Jansen’s bad throw to the dish for a 7-6 Padres victory? I mean, c’mon, people. You haven’t seen that before.

Obviously, it would have been more fun if the “you gotta be kidding me!” factor were upped by a pair of unicorns scoring those final runs for San Diego, but we can only do so much here at ESPN LA.

The Good:

Blue batters 1-3. The top of the order (Bobby Abreu, Mark Ellis, Matt Kemp) combined to go 5-for-11 at the plate, with Abreu drawing a pair of walks. They also scored four of the team’s runs and always seemed to be in the mix to serve as spark plugs for a rally. It went without saying the Dodgers have missed the presences of Ellis and Kemp during DL stints, and tonight was pleasant reminder of the plainly obvious.

Blue batter 4. The Dodgers’ first run served as a sign Andre Ethier was in for a good night. His bloop “single” to shallow left was both fortuitous in the way it propelled Ellis across the plate and generous in the way it was scored. (From where I was sitting, it looked like Carlos Quentin and Alexi Amarista couldn’t decide who had it, which left Quentin to whiff a playable ball.) Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Ethier extended his good fortune with another RBI in the third, then a two-out, two-run dinger smoked into right field. The home run broke a 4-4 tie, and added another notch on a belt marked by oodles of clutch moments by the right fielder.

Aaron Harrang. For some reason, the games I’m assigned to cover always coincide with a Harang start. And unfortunately, I’ve typically been Kryptonite for the big lug in person. The righty tends to (at best) scuffle or (at worst) get drilled, whether at the Ravine or even The Big A. Thus, I was concerned a tough first inning with a run surrendered (albeit unearned), a few hard hit balls, and an uneconomic 26 pitches dealt meant I remained a jinx. Well, perhaps our partnership (of sorts) has taken a turn for the better. Harang’s night wasn’t brilliant, but a few of his innings were quite efficient and he only surrendered four hits over seven innings. Granted, two left the yard. And in the case of Chase Headley’s two-run, sixth inning bomb, Harang was actually ahead in the count 0-2. Still, he recovered well enough after the first homer to retire three straight batters. He also managed to convert an out after knocking down a scorcher comeback from Amarista with his bare hand. Given our track record together, that his hand wasn’t broken is worthy of celebration.

The Bad:

Rally killing. In the third inning, with the bags full and nobody out, Adam Kennedy, A.J. Ellis and Luis Cruz combined forces to produce zero runs. That’s really uninspiring, even for the bottom of the order.

Juan Rivera’s err-a. Say what you will about James Loney’s weaknesses with the bat (and most of y’all have by now), but the dude is still pretty slick with the leather. The drop off defensively with Rivera can be palpable, as demonstrated when he let a routine first inning grounder from Headley by him. The error allowed Logan Forsythe to reach third, where he eventually scored. Had the play been converted, the frame likely would have ended with a zero for the Padres. In a 7-6 loss, that matters.

Kenley Jansen. A pair of hard-hit singles opened the closer’s inning with men on the corners and no outs. This is a tough position to prevent a run from scoring, and unfortunately, this proved the predictable case, the bizarre path towards inevitability acknowledged.