With two out in the eighth inning, Dodger second baseman Juan Uribe worked the count to 3-2, and Friday's game reached the height of suspense. With one more ball, Uribe could become the ninth and final member of the Dodger starting lineup to draw a walk.
Alas, Uribe swung and grounded to short. But hold on – there was still one more inning, a ninth inning that saw the Dodgers send eight men to the plate. Matt Kemp stood at the plate with Uribe on deck, swinging his walking stick.
Alas, Kemp flied to right on the Cubs' 230th pitch of the game, and Uribe was left bereft.
Despite this failing, there was a bright side to Friday's game. The Dodgers drew 10 walks in all and slung out 14 hits in a 12-2 romp over the Cubs, doubling the Dodgers' previous biggest margin of victory of the season. Over a three-day period, the Dodgers have outscored their opponents 23-6, moving into a virtual tie with the Giants for second place in the National League West, three games behind Colorado.
Uribe's week-long surge has been a big part of that. Since Sunday, the slow-starting import from San Francisco has gone 10 for 23 with two homers and nine RBI. Betting on him to walk is still a slim proposition – he's done so once against seven strikeouts this week – but it's made a big difference to have someone below the cleanup spot hitting the ball, even if more hope had been placed in Jerry Sands.
Sands was the only Dodger starter to go hitless Friday, though he did walk with the bases loaded in the Dodgers' six-run third inning. The rookie is hitless in his past 13 plate appearances, which looks bad, although Uribe could certainly tell him things could be worse. (Uribe, by the way, is not in today's starting lineup for the Dodgers.)
Kemp, Jamey Carroll, Casey Blake, Andre Ethier and A.J. Ellis all reached base three times Friday, while Uribe, James Loney and Chad Billingsley did so twice. Blake, Ethier, Kemp and Ellis all have on-base percentages about .400. Marcus Thames added his second pinch-hit homer of the season.
Meanwhile, in his second consecutive nice start, Billingsley did not allow an earned run until the seventh inning. He has struck out 27 in 28 1/3 innings. Also bouncing back were Kenley Jansen (four strikeouts in 1 2/3 perfect innings) and Lance Cormier (a shutout ninth).
Ellis allowed a passed ball in the fourth inning that cost Billingsley a chance at a shutout; Carroll and Blake later made errors.