Dodgers 8, Diamondbacks 2
Ventura hit his 18th career grand slam to tie Willie McCovey for third place on the career list, Hideo Nomo won for the first time in 11 decisions and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-2 Tuesday night.
“I was hoping that he hit it out,” said Alvarez, who also was Ventura’s teammate with the Chicago White Sox for seven seasons before they reunited in Los Angeles. “A few days ago I said to him that if he hit another one before we leave this year, I’ll give him a present. And now I owe a present to him and his wife.”
Manager Jim Tracy sent Ventura up to bat for Brent Mayne and got the desired results. The 16-year veteran extended the Dodgers’ lead to 8-2 in the seventh by driving Chad Durbin’s 1-0 pitch into the right-field pavilion for his fifth homer of the season and second grand slam. Ventura is a .344 career hitter with the bases full and has 213 RBIs in those situations.
“Obviously, you have to be in the right situation and you have to get lucky, too,” Ventura said. “The pitchers don’t necessarily want to walk you, so their pitches come a little closer to the plate. I think more mistakes are made with the bases loaded than with a base open.”
The only players who have homered more often than Ventura with the bases loaded are Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig (23) and Eddie Murray (19).
“It doesn’t make sense, when you name the people who have done that and mention me in the same sentence. So I feel honored just to be in that company,” Ventura said. “I can’t explain it, so I’m not going to try.”
Ventura’s other grand slam this season came on Aug. 29 at Shea Stadium against Kris Benson. He has six career pinch-hit home runs and three this season.
“Those are harder because you get more opportunities if you’re playing all the time, so you just try to take advantage of what’s there and the situation you’re in,” Ventura said. “Tonight, Trace put me in a situation with one out, and you hit a little differently than you do with two out, as far as trying to lift the ball.”
Coming off a 6-7 road trip that ended with three straight losses at St. Louis, the Dodgers moved 4 1/2 games ahead of San Francisco, which lost to Colorado. Los Angeles is 35-19 against division opponents, with 22 of their remaining 25 games against the West.
Nomo (4-11) allowed two runs and five hits over six-plus innings and struck out six in his second start off the disabled list, sending the Diamondbacks to their fifth straight loss and 14th in 16 meetings with the Dodgers this season. The right-hander missed two months with inflammation in his rotator cuff before losing 3-1 at Arizona last Wednesday. Nomo’s last win came on April 21 at Colorado.
“He was hurt early in the season, and we knew that,” teammate Adrian Beltre said. “He wasn’t throwing his fastball like he normally does. But we’re going to need Nomo down the stretch, there’s no doubt about that. Hopefully, he can bounce back and be the Nomo that we know. If we can get him on the right track, we’re going to be even better.”
The loss put the Diamondbacks a club-record 54 games under .500 (42-96). Arizona’s next defeat will tie the club record for losses, set in 1988, when the Diamondbacks finished their inaugural season 65-97.
Brandon Webb (6-15) allowed four runs, six hits and three walks in 4 1-3 innings and had five strikeouts. The right-hander equaled the franchise record for losses, set by Willie Blair in 1998.
“His numbers don’t indicate how great he’s pitched all year, but he won’t blame anyone but himself,” Arizona reliever Mike Fetters said.
The Dodgers took a 4-2 lead with a pair of fifth-inning runs after the Diamondbacks tied the score with two in the top half.
Webb, who leads the majors with 104 walks, walked Steve Finley and Milton Bradley to open the Dodgers’ fifth. The right-hander struck out Beltre, but Shawn Green regained the lead for the Dodgers with a hit-and-run single through the right side. Bradley scored on a grounder by Jayson Werth, beating the throw to the plate from third baseman Chad Tracy.
A moment of silence was observed in memory of former Dodgers OF Willie Crawford, on what would have been his 58th birthday. Crawford, a member of the 1965 World Series championship team, died Friday of kidney disease. … Alex Cintron booted Werth’s seventh-inning grounder, extending Arizona’s error streak to eight games. They have committed 120, tying them with the New York Mets for the most in the majors. … Arizona activated RHP Scott Service and C Robby Hammock, leaving the Diamondbacks with 11 players still on the DL.