Dodgers 4, Diamondbacks 3.

Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero went 2 for 4 as the designated hitter Thursday. (Associated Press photo)

On an afternoon in which scheduled starter Zack Greinke was pulled two batters into the game, the Dodgers got their first Cactus League victory.

Miguel Rojas broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning, scoring from second base on an RBI single by Brendan Harris. Harris smacked a line drive to right field off Marcos Mateo, a right-hander who split last season between Double-A and Triple-A. Arizona right fielder Matt Tuiasosopo made a good throw to home plate, but it was slightly up the first-base line. Catcher Blake Lalli reached back to the plate a moment too late to tag Rojas.

Alex Guerrero drove in Justin Turner with an insurance run in the eighth inning off Diamondbacks left-hander Eury De La Rosa.

Juan Uribe tied the game with a solo home run in the fourth inning off Diamondbacks right-hander R.J. Hively, who hasn’t pitched an inning above high Single-A ball in his life. It was the Dodgers’ first home run of the spring.

The Dodgers got on the board in the bottom of the second inning when Adrian Gonzalez dropped a double just inside the left-field line, then scored on an RBI single by Uribe.

Chris Withrow had the unenviable task of relieving Greinke with a 1-1 count on Cliff Pennington. The 24-year-old right-hander, who’s on the bubble for a bullpen job this spring, came in cold and had to warm up on the mound. He retired Pennington but couldn’t get out of the second inning, allowing a walk, a single and an RBI double, followed by a strikeout and an RBI groundout. Five of the nine batters Withrow faced reached base.

The box score is here.

A couple more notes:
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Dodgers’ National League MVP votes split after 2013 success.

A 92-win season and a division title usually begets an MVP candidate. Or four.

For the Dodgers — a team of several superstars and, this year, several superstars with injuries — the National League MVP votes were more fractured than Hanley Ramirez‘s rib.

Clayton Kershaw, who won the National League Cy Young Award on Wednesday finished seventh in the MVP race with 146 points. Ramirez followed in a distant eighth, with 58 points. Yasiel Puig (15th) and Adrian Gonzalez (19th) were the only other Dodgers listed on ballots.

Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen won the award, handily outdistancing runner-up Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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Five Dodgers are among the Rawlings Gold Glove Award finalists.

Mark Ellis

Mark Ellis dives for a ground ball in a June game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. (Associated Press photo)

Third baseman Juan Uribe, catcher A.J. Ellis, second baseman Mark Ellis, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and pitcher Zack Greinke are finalists for Rawlings Gold Glove Awards at their respective positions.

The finalists were announced Friday morning. Winners will be announced on ESPN2 at 5 p.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday.

The Dodgers’ five finalists are second only to the Baltimore Orioles, who have six. The Kansas City Royals also have five Gold Glove Award finalists.

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Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig cause a minor stir with their celebrations.

Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig raises his arms to celebrate his triple off the right-field wall in the fourth inning of Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Monday. (Associated Press photo)

Ah, the age of Twitter.

Monday night, the days of reporters running from one clubhouse to the other for reaction to controversy were officially laid to rest. It happened shortly before 9 p.m. Pacific Time, when a reporter in the Dodgers’ interview room noticed a tweet from a reporter in the St. Louis Cardinals’ clubhouse. Probably this tweet:


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Arizona Diamondbacks 9, Dodgers 4.

Don Mattingly

Don Mattingly wipes his brow after Adrian Gonzalez was ejected in the sixth inning of the Dodgers’ 9-4 loss. (Associated Press photo)

Hold the champagne.

The Dodgers still haven’t figured out this whole playoff-berth-cinching thing in the Don Mattingly era.

Their magic number is still two, and the division title could be theirs by this time tomorrow — before any other team in the majors wraps up a playoff berth — but the Dodgers endured a frustrating evening Wednesday in their first opportunity to clinch the National League West.
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Dodgers 9, Arizona Diamondbacks 3.

Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez scores one of his three runs Tuesday in the Dodgers’ 9-3 win. (Associated Press photo)

When the book is written on the Dodgers’ 2013 season, the period of time between Sept. 4 and Sept. 16 must be given its own chapter. It’s the part where the Dodgers re-visit the concept of mortality for their own amusement, playfully goading their opponents’ egos at the expense of nervous fans. Juan Uribe became a cleanup hitter, Edinson Volquez started three times and the Dodgers lost a game 19-3. Funny chapter, you’ve got to admit.

Well, maybe.

It was taken on faith Tuesday that Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig were all healthy. They were in the starting lineup, at least. Kemp, making his first start since July after spraining his ankle and tweaking his hamstring, played center field but did not approach full speed. Neither did Ramirez, who missed four games due to symptoms of sciatica. Puig’s hip was such an unknown factor just two days ago, manager Don Mattingly said the rookie phenom might miss one day to two weeks — then used him as a pinch-hitter the same night. Andre Ethier, whose left ankle is in a protective boot, was allowed to take a day off.


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Daily Distractions: Brian Wilson says he doesn’t pitch with emotion.

Brian WilsonBrian Wilson was calmly packing up for the Dodgers’ road trip to Arizona after another loss to the San Francisco Giants, wearing a black sport coat, a pink T-shirt underneath and a rastafarian hat. Just another day at the office.

Wilson faced two batters in the seventh inning of a tie game Sunday and retired both. This has become Wilson’s new normal: pitching in high-leverage situations in every inning except the ninth. Eight of his last nine appearances have come in 0-, 1-, 2- or 3-run games. None have been in the ninth inning.

And Wilson is thriving. He’s allowed one run in 12 appearances (the lone run he allowed got him stuck with the loss in Cincinnati on Sept. 7).

“I didn’t start off pitching the ninth inning in my career,” Wilson said. “As long as I’m out there competing, I think every inning’s just as important.”

But is the adrenaline the same?

“I don’t pitch off adrenaline,” he said. “I don’t pitch with emotion. I’ve been playing this game for a while now, and I pitch to my strengths. There are some situations that dictate higher levels of energy, but sometimes it can get a little out of control if you don’t use it the right way.”

So there you have it. One of the most demonstrative, colorful players in baseball doesn’t pitch with emotion.

I suppose you never know until you ask.

Some bullet points for a Mexican Independence Day:
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Daily Distractions: Onelki Garcia makes history, doesn’t throw his glove.

Onelki Garcia

MLB.com’s Gameday view of Adam Eaton’s at-bat against Onelki Garcia.

Dodgers pitcher Onelki Garcia walked Adam Eaton in his major-league debut last night and didn’t waste time: He threw four pitches out of the strike zone before Don Mattingly summoned Peter Moylan from the bullpen.

A couple things happened next:

… and those of us in the press box started reaching for the history books:

If Garcia never appears in another major-league game, he’ll be the only pitcher to walk the only batter he faced, let alone on four pitches. At least Garcia avoided the fate of Larry Yount, Robin’s brother and a Woodland Hills native, who was injured while warming up for his only major-league game in 1971 and never faced a batter again.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he intended for Garcia to face only Eaton, then insert Moylan to face right-handed hitter A.J. Pollock. He didn’t bother to mention this to Garcia. “Maybe I should’ve told him,” Mattingly said after the game.

But it sounds like Garcia will get another chance. Both J.P. Howell and Paco Rodriguez were unavailable last night, and that might be the case again between now and the season finale on Sept. 28.

“That’s what we envision — him getting a lefty,” Mattingly said. “I think he’ll be fine.”

Garcia copped to some nerves after the game, “like a lot of players do the first time,” he said through an interpreter.

“It can’t be an easy situation, stepping in for the first time,” catcher A.J. Ellis said.

There will be a next time, or there will be a new one for the record books.

Some bullet points on the 10th anniversary of Johnny Cash’s death:
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How Don Mattingly decided to pinch run Dee Gordon on Tuesday night.

Dee and Didi

Dee Gordon stole second base as a pinch-runner in the 10th inning of the Dodgers’ 5-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday.


Dodgers manager Don Mattingly second-guessed his own decision-making in the 10th inning Tuesday.

With Adrian Gonzalez on first base and Andre Ethier stepping to the plate with two outs, Dee Gordon was available to pinch-run off the Dodgers’ bench. The slow-footed Gonzalez stayed on first base while Josh Collmenter threw two balls to Ethier. Then Gordon came jogging out to pinch run.

What was the manager thinking?
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Postgame thoughts: Dodgers 4, Philadelphia Phillies 0.

Cliff Lee

Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run home run off Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee in the fourth inning of the Dodgers’ 4-0 victory Friday, their ninth straight win. (Associated Press photo)

To the guy who emails me nearly every day asking for Cliff Lee trade rumors:

The Dodgers don’t need Cliff Lee.

Would he give the Dodgers the best 1-2-3 combination in all of baseball? Yes.

Would he make them a better team? Maybe, depending on the number of prospects the Phillies demand in return, which is usually quite high two weeks before the waiver trade deadline.

But should a team that is adequately built for the present (see: 41-8 record since June 22), and needs all its elite prospects to maintain momentum through the future, trade for a guy like Cliff Lee? Probably not.

And the fact that the Dodgers don’t need Lee, after watching what he did to them Friday, is just as strong a testament to their turnaround as any statistic we could insert here.
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