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Friday, May 31, 2013
Dodgers escape potential crushing defeat

By Mark Saxon



It wasn't pretty, but the Los Angeles Dodgers will take it. Trying to dig their way out of last place, what choice do they have?

Despite blowing a 5-0 lead -- with ace Clayton Kershaw getting the start -- the Dodgers rallied for a couple of runs in the 10th inning to pull off a 7-5 win over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on Friday night.

A troublesome issue from previous road trips came back: the bullpen's inability to protect late leads.

Closer Brandon League couldn't put away Todd Helton and the 39-year old slugger smacked a deep two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to finish the Rockies' rally from a 5-0 hole. The Dodgers' bullpen has blown 10 saves this season, tied for third-most in the majors.

There will, of course, be calls for League to be replaced as closer by Kenley Jansen, but the larger issue is whether the Dodgers have enough late-inning arms to support quality starting pitching. It's not as if Jansen and Ronald Belisario haven't had bad games.

With Matt Kemp on the disabled list and Carl Crawford and A.J. Ellis dealing with various ailments, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly went with his oddest lineup of the season.

He had Ramon Hernandez, whose career was hanging by a thread two weeks ago, batting cleanup. Luis Cruz, whose roster spot is in imminent jeopardy, was the third baseman. Skip Schumaker was the starting center fielder. Hernandez and Schumaker had huge hits, Cruz a clutch and productive at-bat.

Scott Van Slyke was in there and so was Juan Uribe, but then again, those guys have practically become stalwarts these days.

Oh, but did any of it matter, considering who was on the mound? In fact, it did. Kershaw was far from his sharpest, giving up a season-high eight hits, but he still got through seven innings, allowing three runs and striking out five.