Joe Torre played the first nine innings of this game like it was a playoff game, irrespective of the score, substituting wildly late in the contest. From the mound, he had Randy Wolf go through seven innings of three-run, five-hit ball, followed by Ramon Troncoso for two outs, George Sherrill for one out to the left Garrett Jones, and the ninth inning for Jonathan Broxton in a non-save situation. From the plate, Mark Loretta's eighth-inning single introduced Jason Repko as a pinch runner and James Loney as a pinch hitter, neither of which could score the tying run in that frame.
But in the ninth inning, down by one run, a one-out Andre Ethier double looked promising, and although Manny Ramirez couldn't single him home, Matt Kemp could (with two out). And with Kemp in scoring position for Jim Thome as a pinch-hitter, it seemed like a dramatic win was in the cards...not quite, thanks to a highlight-reel stop by Ronny Cedeno to end the threat. Despite the outcome, watching how Torre set the team up to force extra innings and almost win the game, and then having the team deliver, has to give us confidence as we move toward the postseason. Even if it is the Pirates.
Three innings of solid scoreless ball (in the sudden-death extra innings) from James McDonald should help restore his confidence. And even though Ronald Belisario let a Pirates run cross in the top of the 13th, the strangely routine walk-off homerun heroics of Andre Ethier in the bottom of the 13th secured the game for the Dodgers, 5-4. Just like we drew this up on paper beforehand, right? And just like we'll win every postseason game.
Coupled with the Rockies' loss, the official magic number shrinks to 12.