On the day we learned that Dodger legend and our site’s namesake Tommy Lasorda was recovering from a minor heart attack in New York, the Dodgers were finally vanquishing their longtime foe Cliff Lee in a gutty 2-1 win over the Phillies for their second win in as many nights in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park.
The infuriatingly inconsistent Chad Billingsley resurrected his career by scattering just one run on six hits through seven innings to pick up his first win since April. Unlikely hero Elian Herrera provided the game winning clutch hit for the second night in a row with a booming two run double off the wall in left to chase a tiring Cliff Lee out of the game in the eighth. The heroic double from the new Dodger hero capped an incredible eighth inning that saw a failed bunt attempt, and two TOOTBLANS that nearly sunk the game for the Dodgers. Josh Lindblom and Kenley Jansen shut the door in the seventh and eighth innings as the Dodgers improve to 35-21 on this magical 2012 season.
I can’t believe that Cliff Lee entered the game without a win yet this season. Once again Lee got no run support from his offense, even though he whiffed 12 Dodger batters through 7.2 innings. Lee had a career 0.40 ERA against the Boys in Blue and hadn’t allowed a run to the Dodgers since 2008. That run came to an end tonight, as the Dodgers finally, finally hit Cliff Lee. However they had to wait until he tired out, and after Jonathon Papplebon’s enjoyable flustery meltdown in last night’s game, it seemed Philadelphia was hesitant to go to their bullpen. Let’s take a look at the highlights.
Top of the first. Gordon flies out to center. Herrera grounds out. Rivera grounds to short. It takes Cliff Lee only eight pitches to retire the Dodgers in the first.
Bottom of the first. Of course as if on cue, the leadoff man Jimmy Rollins doubles down the line in right. I can’t remember the last time Bills actually got the lead-off man of a game out, and didn’t give up any first inning runs. Rollins tags to third on a fly ball from old friend former Dodger Juan Pierre. Hunter Pence singles to left to score Rollins, and just like that it’s 1-0 Philly. Carlos Ruiz pops out. Shane Victorino walks. Ty Wigginton hits a long fly ball to right field, that makes Ethier Jump against the wall to make a fantastic catch to end the frame and bail out Billingsley.
Top of the second. Andre Ethier draws a lead-off walk. Rookie Alex Castellanos playing in left field pops out. Jerry Hairston’s single through the hole at short sends Ethier to second. Treanor whiffs on a full count. Tony Gwynn flies out, and the inning is over. The Dodgers can’t cash their own check. Bottom of the second. Amazingly Bills atones himself and pitches a 123 scoreless frame. Placido Polanco whiffs. Freddy Galvis grounds out, and Lee is retired on a little dribbler. Way to go Bills!
Top of the third. The Dodgers go down quickly again in the third off of Lee. Bills and Gordon both whiff looking like statues. Elian Herrera grounds out. Bottom of the third. Bills has another good inning. Rollins grounds out. Old friend Pierre also grounds out. The weird elbowy Hunter Pence singles into right field. Alex Castellanos makes a nice sliding stop and good throw into second to hold Pence to a long single. Carlos Ruiz grounds out ending the frame.
Top of the fourth. As per normal operating procedures, Cliff Lee disposes of the Dodgers in order in the fourth, with Ethier and Castellanos whiffing. Lee now has five whiffs through the first four innings. Bottom of the fourth. Bills works his way out of a little jam in the bottom half of the fourth. After a Victorino ground out, Ty Wigginton reaches on a ground ball single that deflects off of Herrera. Polanco hits into a groundout that could have been a double play had Rivera not bumbled the ball. He does get the out at first, but barely. Galvis flies out, and the Dodgers are out of the inning. Both pitchers exchange scoreless frames in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings.
Chad Billingsley whiffs Hunter Pence to end the bottom of the seventh inning. Bills made 100 pitches, and recorded 11 ground ball outs, in an incredible performance. Hats off to Bills for pitching one of his best games of the season so far. Perhaps there is hope for him yet?
Move to the Top of the eighth. With the Dodgers still trailing 1-0 Treanor leads off and doubles. Then Don Buntingly returns to nearly Buntscrew us out of an inning. He orders Tony Gwynn to sacrifice Treanor over to third even though Gwynn is already in scoring position. Made no sense at all. Gwynn finally lays down the bunt with two strikes, but it’s on the third base side of the mound. Lee sprints off the mound and throws out Treanor going to third. Stupid play. TOOTBLAN#1 But wait Dodger Fans, there is more stupid coming!
Bobby Abreu comes off the bench to pinch hit for Bills, and singles into right field. Gwynn who had taken second base on the failed bunt, tries to go to third base and is nailed by a cannon throw from Hunter Pence. That’s the second TOOTBLAN of the inning. I thought we were toast after that. Gordon immediately singles, and Abreu moves to second. So far that is a double and two singles and no runs scored. The Phillies have a meeting on the mound, By this time, Lee is way over 100 pitches, but the Phillies leave him in. Elian Herrera, with two strikes, slams a double off the top of the wall, over the leaping head of former Dodger Juan Pierre. Both Abreu and Gordon score, and the Dodgers take the lead on a two-run double by Elian Herrera! Wooohooooo!
Chad Qualls relieves Cliff Lee after he makes 122 pitches, and induces a Juan Rivera ground out to end the frame. Lee goes 7.2 allowing two runs six hits, one walk, and whiffing 12. In comparison Bills allows just one run on six hits and three whiffs in seven strong innings of work.
With Bills in line for the win, Josh Lindblom enters to pitch the bottom of the eighth. Pierre Hunter and Ruiz all fly out to Tony Gwynn and the Dodgers are just an inning away from another one run victory in Philly. The Dodgers go down in order in the top of the ninth, and Kenley Jansen comes in to close up shop in the bottom of the ninth.
Kenley Jansen, gets Rat Face Shane Victorino to ground out to Herrera. Ty Wigginton singles. Jansen then whiffs pinch-hitter Mike Fontenot, and Freddy Galvis to end the game for the Dodgers.
The Dodgers keep their three game lead over the Giants who are now breathing down our necks. The news of Tommy Lasorda’s heart attack hit me especially hard. He is one of my all time favorite Dodger legends. I have modeled my life and Dodger pride after Tommy’s Blue passion. Keep Tommy in your prayers tonight. I could feel Tommy’s Blue spirit rooting us onto victory. We’ll keep you posted on Tommy’s condition. The Dodgers will look to keep their momentum going tomorrow, as Dodger lefty Chris Capuano goes for his eighth win of the season. The Phillies will counter with Kyle Kendrick. Join us tomorrow for more of our daily Dodger coverage. Game time at 405. This wins for you Tommy! Go Blue.