Solemn evening (and late night) in DC

After dinner last night, Al Balderas, Diamond Leung and I went over to monuments along the mall. We did a LOT of walking. It’s a long way from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, especially on a humid night. But after that, we finally made it to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial shortly before midnight. The remnants of the Memorial Day ceremony held there only hours earlier were still there, hundreds of flowers and personal items left by surviving family members of those who gave their lives in the conflict. Someone had left a framed Western Union telegram from, I think it was 1966, informing a woman of her husband’s death after his Howitzer backfired on him. What struck me most, though, was just how eerily quiet it was. There were about a dozen people there, doing the same thing we were, even at that late hour. But out of respect, no one said a word. I had seen it before, in the daytime, but there was something about seeing it in the final minutes of Memorial Day, in the darkness, with only a few footlights shining up on it, and the monuments, completely lit up, visible in the distance. Thanks to everyone in the military for their dedicated, unselfish service to country and mankind. And thanks to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

I stand corrected

Actually, at the moment, I SIT corrected. But tomorrow’s Jason Schmidt rehab start at Single-A Inland Empire? It starts at 11 a.m., not noon as I wrote yesterday on this blog and for today’s paper. If you show up at noon, you can still catch two-thirds of a minor-league ballgame, but you won’t catch Schmidt — he’s likely to be gone by then. Once again, that’s 11 AM. NOT NOON.

Change of plans: Schmidt to start his rehab

Right-hander Jason Schmidt, who signed a three-year, $47 million free-agent contract with the Dodgers in December and now has been on the 15-day disabled list for the past six weeks with bursitis in his right shoulder, will NOT throw a simulated game sometime on the Dodgers’ current road trip to Washington, Pittsburgh and San Diego, Instead, the decision was made to fast-forward him straight to his minor-league rehabilitation assignment, which will begin on Wedesday at Single-A Inland Empire, which hosts Rancho Cucamonga at noon that day. There is no preset plan for how many innings or pitches Schmidt will throw, and there still is no timetable for his activation. The limit on minor-league rehabs for pitchers is 30 days, so it could still be a while. Trainer Stan Conte, who stayed back from the road trip, and general manager Ned Colletti will be there to watch Schmidt. If you’re interested in attending, the 66ers play at Arrowhead Credit Union Park, which is at 280 South E Street in San Bernardino. For ticket info, call (909) 888-9922

Dodgers 2, Cubs 1

Pierre brought the leather, robbing Mark DeRosa of a hit with a diving catch in the top of the 11th, then brought his left knee, which collided with a pitch from Carlos Marmol with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th, forcing in the winning run. There was some initial confusion when the play happened, and the only people who seemed to realize that the Dodgers had won the game were Ramon Martinez, who scored the winning run when the pitch caromed off Pierre’s knee and into foul territory, and Russell Martin, the on-deck hitter who exchanged fist bumps with Martinez. Everyone else was confused by Pierre pleading with plate umpire Dana DeMuth for the hit batter call, an appeal by the Cubs to third-base umpire Doug Eddings who signaled that Pierre hadn’t swung at the pitch and the fact Pierre was trotting up the first-base line. This one could stick in Piniella’s craw for a long time, especially after Angel Guzman, who had been perfect in the ninth and 10th, walked the first two batters in the 11th. And the worst part is, the Cubs will have to wait until Labor Day to try to even the series at 1,007 games apiece. Dodgers go to 29-21 and stay tied with San Diego atop the division, with Arizona one game back. The D-backs play tomorrow, the Dodgers and Pods do not. … Have a safe and happy Memorial Day, everyone.

Workin’ overtime

Dodgers have had six different innings today in which they sent just three batters to the plate, including the bottom of the ninth, when neither Pierre, Martin nor Kent could reach against Angel Guzman. They also went down one-two-three (or was it two-three-four?), all on fly balls, in the eighth after Ethier led off the inning with his home run. Pierre is 0 for 4 with four flyball outs. Broxton is dealing though, and is now in his second inning. He just blew away Derrek Lee for the second out in the 10th. Cubs 1, Dodgers 1, top 10

Grady 1, Lou 0

Grady sent Ethier to hit for Andy LaRoche leading off the bottom of the eighth. Piniella countered with lefty Scott Eyre because Ethier hits left-handed. Ethier countered with a game-tying homer, the first pinch-hit jack this year by any Dodger not named Wilson Betemit. Also, Russell Martin made a spectacular catch of a foul pop by Matt Murton in the seventh, falling into the below-ground-level front row of the dugout-club seats and still holding onto the ball. Cubs 1, Dodgers 1, bottom 8

Still within reach

Aramis Ramirez, pinch-hitting for the interestingly named Angel Pagan (it’s Puh-GONN, not PAY-gun), just flied to the track in right field with the bases loaded. Another two feet, and this one would have been way out of reach of the offensively challenged Dodgers. As it is, it ended the eighth inning, and the Cubs have now stranded nine. But they did get a run earlier in the inning on three straight singles off Rudy Seanez. Ethier now batting for LaRoche. Cubs 1, Dodgers 0, bottom 8

Mass confusion

The Dodgers got out of the top of the third without even realizing it. Randy Wolf fielded a comebacker from Ryan Theriot and threw it to Jeff Kent for the force at second, the third out of the inning. But after stepping on the bag, Kent took a couple of steps toward Wolf as if the inning wasn’t over, and Wolf and the other seven Dodgers on the field seemed to follow suit. Only after the umpires reminded them that it was the third out did they start jogging off the field. It APPEARS that Kent was the one who initially got confused and everyone else then got confused by his confusion. Have to wait until after the game to find out what really happened, though. This is a pitcher’s duel extraordinaire between Wolf and Rich Hill, with some great defense (especially by former Gold Glove 1B Derrek Lee) thrown in. Cubs 0, Dodgers 0, end 4

Today’s lineup: Nomar, Ethier sit

Furcal is back after missing yesterday with a tight right knee. And Martin is hitting third for the second time this season.

SS Furcal
CF Pierre
C Martin
2B Kent
1B Saenz
LF Gonzo
3B LaRoche
RF Clark
LH Wolf

Today is the rubber match of the series. THE ALL-TIME SERIES. In the more than a century that the Dodgers and Cubs have been playing each other, they are dead even, with each team having beaten the other 1,006 times

Cubs 4, Dodgers 2

Dodgers tried to rally in the eighth and then again in the ninth. But Jeff Kent, pich hitting for Gonzo, took a called third strike with the bases loaded to end the eighth, and Olmedo Saenz GIDP’s with two on and one out to end the game. Dodgers went 1 for 9 with RISP and lost by two runs. But the good news was that not only did Billingsley have a good outing, he also threw 40 pitches and ate three innings behind the shaky Hendrickson. That could put Billingsley in a position to start next Saturday at Pittsburgh, which is the next time the Dodgers need a fifth starter, or even sooner if Grady decides to push Hendrickson into the fifth spot (or replace him in the rotation with Kuo). Should be an interesting week. Dodgers fall to 28-21, and the Pods will tie them for first place if they beat the Brewers tonight. … One more night in my own bed. This 17-day stretch at home (two six-game homestands bookended around a three-gamer in Anaheim) has been OUTSTANDING. Most importantly, for me. But it has been good for the Dodgers, as well. They are 8-6 on that stretch, with one more game to go tomorrow, and with Randy Wolf going, they have a semi-favorable pitching matchup even though Rich Hill has pitched well for the Cubs. And don’t forget, this 10-game road trip starts with three in DC and four in Pittsburgh, where the Nats and Buccos are a combined 16 games under .500. And then, a three-game showdown with the Pods at Petco.