LOS ANGELES (AP)—The only player in the Dodgers’ clubhouse who was happier than Olmedo Saenz was Andre Ethier, whose ill-advised dive in right field on an uncatchable ball led to the tying run and set the stage for Saenz’s game-winning hit.
Saenz singled home the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning and Los Angeles beat Arizona 2-1 Tuesday night to snap the Diamondbacks’ six-game winning streak.
“Sometimes you’re the goat and sometimes you’re the hero—and tonight the goat got picked up by the hero,” Ethier said.
“I saw it all the way and I just made a good, aggressive approach on it. That’s the way I play out there,” the second-year outfielder said. “The ball didn’t happen to carry as far as I thought it would. I made a mistake and I’ll learn from it. But I’m not going to shy away from doing that or become tentative, because I’ll take more away than I’ll give away. I guess it was just the wrong time to try and make that play—in a 1-0 game.”
The Dodgers pulled the infield in against .346-hitting Orlando Hudson, who drove in Byrnes with a single to center.
“You don’t really feel bad for yourself in that situation. You feel for Brad Penny. He deserved to win that game and he didn’t get a decision,” Ethier said.
Rafael Furcal led off the ninth with a single against Brandon Lyon (2-1), then advanced to third on Juan Pierre’s sacrifice and Wilson Valdez’s groundout. Jeff Kent was intentionally walked in front of Saenz, who drove a 1-1 pitch up the middle while batting for reliever Takashi Saito.
Saito (1-0) pitched a perfect ninth inning for the victory, the sixth by the Dodgers’ bullpen against one loss.
Penny outpitched Livan Hernandez with six innings of three-hit ball in their first head-to-head matchup and lowered his ERA to 1.64. Penny and Hernandez each won a World Series ring with the Florida Marlins—Penny in 2003 and Hernandez in 1997 when he was Series MVP.
“I knew that when you pitch against him, you’ve got to be at the top of your game—and you still might not win,” Penny said. “He always pitches deep into the game and he’s not scared to throw 130-something pitches. He’s smart and he never gives in—even with me up there. Bases loaded, 1-0 count, he throws me a slider. He’s probably the only guy who would do that.”
Penny struck out four and did not allow a hit after Byrnes singled with two outs in the third. All four of the right-hander’s walks came with two outs.
“I don’t mind walking them, as long as they don’t score,” Penny said. “I left some balls up. But at the same time, you don’t want to throw a pitch right over the middle of the plate. I tried to get them to swing and be more aggressive.”
Hernandez allowed a run and six hits over six innings and struck out five. He also walked six batters for the second time in his last four starts.
“A lot of times when Livan is walking somebody, it’s semi-intentionally,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s not going to give in. He’s going to be real fine on the corners, and at times he’ll pitch around a guy to get to the next guy. So it’s not like he’s just missing and has no command. He’s got great command.”
Russell Martin doubled in the second inning and scored the game’s first run on a bases-loaded walk to Furcal, who had a .345 career batting average and four home runs against Hernandez entering the game. Pierre followed with a slicing drive toward the line in shallow left field, but Byrnes made a diving catch.
Nomar Garciaparra, 0-for-11 lifetime against Hernandez, did not start. He pinch-hit for Penny in the sixth against Hernandez and drew a one-out walk that loaded the bases, after Wilson Betemit bunted into a force play at third. Furcal looked at a third strike and Pierre again lined out to Byrnes, leaving the bases loaded a second time.
The Dodgers had runners at second and third in the fifth. But Luis Gonzalez stranded them with a grounder to shortstop Alberto Callaspo, who was stationed to the right of second base on the unorthodox defensive shift against the former Diamondbacks World Series star.
OF Marlon Anderson started at 1B for the first time since the Dodgers acquired him from Washington last August. He committed an error in the second inning when he dropped a foul pop by Carlos Quentin, who then singled and was erased on Callaspo’s double-play grounder. Anderson started 15 games at 1B for the New York Mets in 2005. … Arizona RHP Micah Owings, sidelined due to an injured right hamstring, will be activated from the DL on Thursday to start against Mets LHP Tom Glavine. … Arizona 3B Chad Tracy left in the third because of a sore muscle in his back. SS Stephen Drew replaced him in the batting order and struck out all three times up.