Dodgers 7, Cardinals 5
Ricky Ledee hit a three-run homer in the first inning, Jeff Kent went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and the Dodgers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-5 Friday night in their first meeting at Dodger Stadium since last year’s playoffs.
Cesar Izturis scored the go-ahead run in the seventh thanks to a mental lapse by Morris (11-4). The Dodgers’ leadoff hitter drew a walk and went to third on a hit-and-run single by Oscar Robles. Milton Bradley followed with a comebacker, and Morris shot a glance at Izturis to freeze him before throwing to first.
But Izturis already was halfway down the line, and scored easily ahead of first baseman Albert Pujols’ late throw.
“What do you want me to say? Go ask Morris about it. He made the decision to throw to first base and the run scored,” Pujols said.
Morris was a little more analytical about it.
“With the game-winning run on third, I should have paid more attention to him,” Morris said. “I got the ball, I looked at him and he looked like he took a secondary lead off third. I thought if we got the guy at first, we’d have a shot at Izturis at home because I thought I froze him a little bit.
“But it wasn’t the right play. If I run toward him or throw it home and get him in a rundown, it’s probably the right play. But I didn’t think he was off the bag as far as he was. It was a bad mental error.”
Kent then doubled over Jim Edmonds’ head for another run as the center fielder attempted a diving catch on a ball that was way out of his reach.
“Tonight we came out a determined team, played hard for nine innings and were able to get the victory against a good ballclub,” Bradley said.
Morris allowed a season-high seven runs—five earned—and 10 hits in seven innings. The right-hander, who wasn’t selected to the NL All-Star team despite his 8-0 start, is 3-4 with a 4.40 ERA over his last seven outings. This was his first appearance at Dodger Stadium since losing 4-0 to Jose Lima in Game 3 of the NL division series, which the Cardinals won in four games en route to their first pennant since 1987.
The Cardinals trimmed the Dodgers’ lead to 5-4 in the fifth. Pujols homered on Brad Penny’s first pitch of the inning, an opposite-field drive that just cleared the right-field fence. Edmonds followed with a single, advanced on a wild pitch and scored from third on a single by So Taguchi.
An infield single by Mike Mahoney loaded the bases. But rookie catcher Dioner Navarro, making his NL debut, tagged out Mark Grudzielanek after Morris missed on an attempted suicide squeeze. Morris then struck out, leaving the potential tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.
“It was one of those nights he made too many mistakes and he couldn’t overcome them,” manager Tony La Russa said. “He didn’t cover first on one play … It was probably one of the toughest nights I’ve seen him have in our uniform.”
Another Friday call-up, Double-A prospect Jonathan Broxton, made his major league debut in the sixth and gave up the tying run. David Eckstein and Abraham Nunez singled with none out against the 21-year-old right-hander, who struck out Pujols before both runners advanced on a wild pitch to Edmonds. Broxton intentionally walked Edmonds, and John Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly that made it 5-all.
“They just told me to pitch to my strength. It was exciting,” Broxton said. “I had a few jitters in my system, but everything else was fine. The mound is still 60 feet, 6 inches away, but there’s a lot more things around it. Whatever it takes to help the big league team win, I’ll do it—whether it’s getting one batter out or throw a whole inning.”
Navarro, promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas earlier in the day, was one of the prospects the Dodgers got from Arizona last January for Shawn Green.
“We had a chance to incorporate the kids that were brought up today, and I was impressed with the way Navarro handled the staff,” manager Jim Tracy said.
Eckstein’s ailing father, Whitey, is scheduled to get a kidney transplant on Aug. 19 in Orlando, Fla., after waiting more than more than two years on a list for a suitable donor. Three of David’s siblings have had kidney transplants. … Broxton appeared in 28 games for Jacksonville, including 13 starts, and was 4-3 with a 3.36 ERA. … Dodgers LHP Derek Thompson, fighting chronic elbow problems since 2003, underwent successful “Tommy John” surgery. … Los Angeles designated RHP Scott Erickson for assignment.