Mile High temperatures

It is smokin’ hot here, and unusually humid, with some afternoon clouds rolling in. I remember from when I lived here (1995-2000) that during the hottest part of the summer, it seems to cloud up and rain at least a little bit almost every afternoon. We should be fine by 7:05, though, when Eric Stults takes the hill against Kip Wells, who is making his first start after a stint on the DL with a blood clot in his right hand. Very important for the boys to carry the emotion of yesterday’s ninth-inning rally into this series, because these Rockies are good enough to get back into this race if you let them — and assuming the Cubs handle the D-backs this week, a three-game sweep of the Dodgers would put the Rox in the thick of everything.

Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 5

In the bottom of the eighth inning, I hastily pounded out a blog entry saying the Dodgers were going to have a very, very hard time winning this division because the Diamondbacks have Dan Haren and Brandon Webb and the Dodgers, well, don’t. Having completed it, I set it up a mouseclick away from posting and settled back to watch the ninth inning. Approx. half an hour later, the Dodgers’ universe looked very different from up here in the Chase Field press box, and, one would imagine, from the clubhouse, as well. If this team DOES win this division, these players and their fans will look back for a long time on what transpired in that ninth inning — particularly when Matt Kemp stepped to the plate with two outs and saw eight pitches from a struggling Brandon Lyon, five of them with two strikes, before he ultimately shot a game-tying, RBI double up the gap in left-center, the ball rolling to the deepest part of the park while Pablo Ozuna raced all the way home from first and dived stylishly into home plate. Andre Ethier and Russell Martin followed with RBI hits of their own and Jonathan Broxton proved he can overcome his own shakiness to record a save, as well, and the Dodgers pulled even with the Snakes once again at 48-50. The boys take two of three. Snakes coming to Chavez Ravine a week from Thursday for a four-game rematch. In the interim, it’s on to Colorado for three, then back home for three each with the Nats and the Giants.

Dodgers sign Pablo Ozuna, DFA Luis Maza

Ozuna, a utility IF like Maza, was DFA’d by the White Sox on July 8 to clear room for Paul Konerko, who came off the DL that day. Ozuna hit .281 (18 for 64) in 32 games for the Sox, with three doubles and six RBI. He can play all four infield spots and in the outfield, although he hasn’t play the outfield much since breaking his leg last season.

Joe Jareck of the Dodgers’ PR staff sent along this link to an interesting story about Ozuna, if you’re interested. I mean, I guess it’s interesting. I haven’t read it yet.

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/whitesox/1046288,CST-SPT-sox09.article

Diamondbacks 3, Dodgers 2

Dan Haren turned in seven shutout innings against the Dodgers, but this game was all about defense. The Snakes played too much of it — Conor Jackson robbed Matt Kemp of extra bases with an out-of-this-world catch at the wall in left-center with his back to the field, Mark Reynolds snared two smoking line drives off the bat of Jeff Kent at third and three-time Gold Glove 2B Orlando Hudson made a diving stop to rob Blake DeWitt for the final out of the seventh with a runner on — and the Dodgers didn’t play enough of it. Delwyn Young misjudged a routine fly ball off the bat of Hudson in the first inning, turning it into a double that led to an Arizona run. Ironically, that play didn’t become nearly as glaring until the ninth, when Young delivered an RBI double to pull the Dodgers within 3-2. DY wound up stranded on third when the game ended, a one-run loss in a game when his miscue cost the Dodgers a run. Had the Dodgers lost 3-0, which was the score when they came to bat in the ninth, his miscue wouldn’t have made much of a difference. … Dodgers fall to 47-50 and back into second place, a game behind the Snakes. Brandon Webb going for Arizona tomorrow.

Sweeney not activated

Mark Sweeney becme eligible to come off the DL today, but doing so would have meant cutting back to 11 pitchers the day after Joe Torre needed eight of them to get through an 11-inning game, so the decision was made to wait. Meanwhile, Juan Pierre continues to improve. He did some running on the field early today, and Torre said he could be ready either to begin a rehab assignment or possibly even to rejoin the Dodgers as early as the next couple of weeks. … One thing I forgot to mention in today’s paper about last night’s game was the play Blake DeWitt made to save the game and send it to extras. D-backs on first and third and two outs in the ninth, Augie Ojeda shoots a smash up the 3B line. DeWitt snared it on a vicious hop, planted and threw Ojeda out at first by no more than two steps. … Here’s tonight’s lineup, with Andruw sitting one more day with flulike symptoms because Torre didn’t want to risk having to replace him in-game like he did last night. Jones is available off the bench.

CF Kemp
RF Ethier
C Martin
2B Kent
SS Garciaparra
1B Loney
LF Young
3B DeWitt
RH Billingsley

Dodgers 8, Diamondbacks 7

As Matt Kemp rightfully pointed out after the game, every game is big the second half, no matter who it is the Dodgers are playing. But this game, and this series, are bigger than others. Nothing like a head-to-head matchup between the leaders to kick off the second half. Dodgers finally got untracked offensively, hitting a season-high four homers — two by Nomar, his first two-homer game in six years; and one each by Kemp and James Loney, with Loney’s coming off Doug Slaten in the 11th inning and deciding the game. All four homers were BLASTED. Garciaparra’s first one broke a plate of food in the swimming pool. His second one landed 10 feet deep into the D-backs bullpen in left. Kemp’s was a towering drive that finally came down 10 rows deep in left field. And Loney’s was a line drive that landed 15 rows deep in right. … Big night for Jonathan Broxton, who looked every bit the part of a big-league closer in blowing out three consecutive D-backs hitters in the 11th. He struggled in both of his appearances as the Dodgers’ closer last year, when Saito had a minor injury. so this was a reassuring effort both for Broxton himself and for Joe Torre and Rick Honeycutt. … Dodgers go to 47-49 and tie the Snakes for the lead, with the Giants and Rockies seven back. This is a two-team race, folks, and it’s going to be fun to watch. Game 2 at 5:10 tomorrow.

Broxton is the Dodgers’ closer … sort of

Torre met with him today and basically told him that he’ll be the PRIMARY closer, and that he will get the call if the Dodgers have a slim lead in the ninth tonight, but he won’t be the ONLY closer. Chan Ho Park is out of the rotation so he can be used in that role on occasion, and Torre also said he might use Hong-Chih Kuo or Joe Beimel in save situations if the other team had two or three left-handed hitters coming up in the inning. It sounds like closer by committee, with the one qualifier being that Broxton is going to get the call MOST of the time. … Park will be replaced in the rotation by veteran right-hander Jason Johnson, whose contract was purchased from Las Vegas earlier today to take Takashi Saito’s roster spot. … Stop us if you have heard this one before: Jason Schmidt has been shut down, his rehab assignment put on hold. He felt discomfort in his shoulder after his last rehab start. Torre said he’ll throw a couple of side sessions here, and if those go well, he’ll resume his rehab. … Oh, and even as Don Mattingly takes over as hitting coach, Jeff Pentland, one of what are now three roving minor-league hitting instructors, will be with the club for the next few days to work with Andruw Jones, whom he worked with during Jones’ all-too-brief rehab at Vegas. Jones apparently didn’t swing and miss at a single pitch during that three-day assignment, which originally was supposed to last a couple of weeks until Juan Pierre went on the DL.

Here’s the lineup
RF Kemp
LF Ethier
C Martin
2B Kent
SS Garciaparra
1B Loney
CF Jones
3B DeWitt
RH Kuroda