The last time Josh Beckett whiffed nine in a game was against the Rays, while he was pitching for the Red Sox. In that game, he whiffed 13 Rays, including B.J. Upton three times. Tonight, B.J.’s brother Justin Upton was among the nine victims, of Josh Beckett, as the former Cy Young runner-up won his debut start at Dodger Stadium, to finally snap the Dodgers skid.
The Dodgers had previously lost eight games in a row to Arizona, for whatever reason, and their last win against the Snakes came all the way back on July 5th. Tonight, Beckett out-dueled the 21 year old rookie phenom, Tyler Skaggs, beating the Snakes 2-1. Beckett was very effective, pitching 6.2 strong frames, allowing just a solo home run to Upton, walking only one, and whiffing nine Dbacks. The 447 foot tape measure blast from Upton in the top of the third, tied the game at 1-1, after the Dodgers had taken the lead in the bottom of the second off of a solo home run to center field from Hanley Ramirez.
Skaggs, the socal native, originally from Woodland Hills, pitched five innings, allowing just the homer from Hanley, five hits, and whiffed three. When all was said and done, it was Andre Ethier’s heroic home run in the bottom of the sixth (Number 15 for Dre), that won the game for the Blue. Ethier’s opposite field jack, broke the tie. Randy Choate, Jamey Wright, and Brandon League finished the game for the Dodgers, providing 2.1 scoreless frames. League recorded his tenth save of the season, with a near flawless ninth, whiffing two in the process. With the Giants win in Chicago, the win tonight keeps the Dodgers (71-63) 4.5 games back in the NL West, and 1.5 back of the Cardinals for the wild card, who won over Washington. Matt Albers took the loss for the snakes, his second in relief.
First pitch line drive from Gerardo Parra back to the box, begins the game. Beckett knocks the ball down, and records the out at first. Look alive Josh! Beckett whiffs Aaron Hill for the second out. Beckett uses a nice hook, to whiff Justin Upton like a statue. Good start for Josh!
Mark Ellis leads off against the 21 year old socal native Tyler Skaggs. M.Ellis comes within a few feet of hitting a homer, only to have the ball hook just foul. Instead he pops out to Hill. Shane Victorino uselessly bloops out to center. Adrian Gonzalez fouls of a bunch of pitches before lining out to center.
Beckett starts the top of the second by whiffing Paul Goldschmidt. Miguel Montero singles. Chris Young doubles just over the third base bag. Montero advances to third. Rookie Ryan Wheeler lines out to Hanley. Beckett pitches around John McDonald walking him on four pitches to load the bases. Opposing starter Tyler Skaggs grounds into a force out, to end the frame. The Dodgers escape, and the game remains scoreless.
Matt Kemp hits a drive into the gap in left field, but Parra races in to make the catch. Hanley Ramirez bombs a two strike Skaggs fastball halfway up the right field pavilion seats in right center field. That’s Hanley’s ninth home run with the Dodgers. Andre Ethier singles to right. Luis Cruz follows with a single to left. A.J. Ellis’s long fly ball to right, sends Upton to the track, but it’s not deep enough to advance the runners. Beckett whiffs to end the second frame. Dodgers lead 1-0.
Top of the third. Parra grounds out to first. Hill reaches on a pop fly bloop single that lands between Victorino, and Kemp. Victorino lost the ball in the lights. Hill gets thrown out trying to steal on a great throw by AJ. That becomes important, because Upton crushes a Beckett meatball for a solo homerun. The ball goes over the palm trees in the Dodger bullpen. Goldschmidt grounds out to third to end the frame. The Snakes tie it up at 1-1. Bottom of the third. M.Ellis flies out. Victorino grounds out. Gonzalez grounds out. Three at-bats, three quick ohfers. Top of the fourth. Beckett whiffs the side. Getting Montero, Young, and Wheeler. He now has six whiffs on the night.
Bison singles to lead off the bottom of the fourth. Ramirez also walks. Ethier flies out to left. Cruz’s liner to center hang up just long enough for Young to snare it for the second out. AJ bounces out to third, and the Dodgers don’t get anything.
Beckett serves up a single to Mcdonald to lead off the top of the fifth. Skaggs tries to bunt, and strikes out. Beckett whiffs Parra on a nice breaking ball for the second out. That’s whiff number eight for Josh. Beckett retires Hill on a weak grounder to second, to end the inning. Skaggs quickly whiffs Becket to start the bottom of the fifth. M.Ellis whiffs on a called strike three. Victorino singles through the hole between third and short. Gonzalez’s fly ball to center is caught at the warning track. Still tied at 1-1.
The top of the sixth begins with an Upton fly out to left. Beckett whiffs Goldschmidt for his ninth whiff. Montero grounds out to second. Skaggs is removed after making 91 pitches. The youngster pitches five one run frames, allowing five hits, one walk, and three whiffs. His only mistake was the home run to Hanley. Righty Matt Albers replaces Skaggs for the Snakes. Bison whiffs for the first out. Albers whiffs Hanley as well. Ethier takes Albers deep with a heroic opposite field solo shot, to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. Albers recovers to quickly whiff Cruz to end the frame. The damage is done though, and the Dodgers have the lead!
Young grounds out to second in the top of the seventh. Wheeler singles to left. Mcdonald fouls out. Mattingly hooks Beckett, and calls in the lefty Randy Choate, to pitch to Pinch-hitter Jason Kubel. (He hit the game winner last night). Beckett’s first home start is an effective one. He goes 6.2 innings, allowing one run, six hits, one walk, and whiffs nine. Beckett makes 102 pitches. Choate gets his man, getting Kubel to ground out to M.Ellis, and the Dodgers are out of the inning.
Righty Matt Lindstrom is the second Arizona reliever used, in the bottom of the seventh. AJ grounds out to third. Pinch-hitter Kennedy whiffs. M.Ellis whiffs like a statue, to end the seventh.
Enter Jamey Wright to pitch the top of the eighth for the Dodgers. Parra is retired on a broken bat grounds to first. Hill bounces out to third. Wright gets Upton to ground back to the box, and with three grounders, Wright retires the side, Still 2-1 Blue.
Righty Bryan Shaw comes in to pitch the bottom of the eighth for Arizona. Victorino leads off with a walk. With Gonzo at-bat, Victorino steals second, and advances to third when Montero throws the ball away. Gonzo’s pop fly to left, is too shallow to score Victorino, as Parra runs in to make a sliding catch. Kemp’s fly ball to right just isn’t deep enough to score Victorino either. Victorino tries to tag up to score, and is gunned down at the plate on a bullet throw from Upton. Victorino tries to knock over Montero, but he holds onto the ball for the third out. The Dodgers don’t get the insurance run home.
Brandon League enters to close shop for the Blue in the bottom of the ninth, while Kenley Jansen is still shelved. Goldschmidt a bloop single to left to lead off. League whiffs Montero for the first out. Young goes down swinging on a sinker in the dirt for the second out. Wheeler grounds into a force out up the middle, as Hanley takes it to the bag to end the game. Dodgers win 2-1!
Perhaps the reports of the Dodger’s demise were greatly exaggerated? I angrily tweeted out that the season was over after last night’s loss. Just a reactionary tweet from me. Never tweet when you’re frustrated guys. Of course the season isn’t over, but the Dodgers need to start hitting at home, in order to continue to get wins at home. The two home runs were just enough tonight. A win is a win though, and I am so glad the skid is snapped. We’re not done yet guys. In tomorrow afternoon’s series finale, Wade Miley will counter lefty Chris Capuano as the Dodgers look for the series split. Go Blue!