Dodgers 4, Blue Jays 3, 10 innings
The nameplate over his locker reads “Killer-T,” which is short for— Killer Tomato—a nickname he has acquired from his teammates. On Friday night, Saenz again demonstrated the reason he earned that moniker with a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the 10th inning that gave the Dodgers a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
“He picked the team up tonight and came up big for us,” said Luis Gonzalez, who also hit a two-run homer. “We like kidding around with him a lot, but he knows—and I think everybody knows now—how valuable he is to this ballclub. You don’t keep a guy like that around in the National League as a pinch hitter unless you’re valuable, and that’s what he’s been to this organization.”
Jeremy Accardo (1-2) came on in the 10th and issued a leadoff walk to Tony Abreu before Saenz batted for reliever Rudy Seanez and drove an 0-1 pitch into the left field pavilion for his fourth career walkoff homer and first since July 2, 2002.
“I know that I hit the ball well, but I didn’t think it was high enough to go out,” Saenz said. “I wasn’t really trying to hit a home run. I was just trying to hit it in the gap and tie the game. When you try to hit a home run, you usually get yourself out. We won a tough game, and it’s a good feeling.”
Seanez (3-1) pitched 1-3 of an inning for the victory, the Dodgers’ 12th in their last 15 home games.
Toronto’s Dustin McGowan allowed two runs and four hits over seven innings before he was removed for a pinch hitter with the Blue Jays trailing 2-1. Matt Stairs took him off the hook with his eighth home run, driving closer Takashi Saito’s 1-2 pitch into the lower seats just inside the right field pole leading off the ninth.
The blown save was the first in 17 opportunities this season for Saito, who missed the previous four games because of a sore left hamstring and had converted his previous 26 opportunities overall.
“I’m sure he was ready to come back,” Dodgers reliever Joe Beimel said. “I think he feels fine. It’s just that when you’re off for a couple of days and you’re used to pitching a lot, you get a little rusty. I know that from being down there. As soon as you get any kind of a break to where you’re not throwing at all, you’re not as sharp. So I’m not really worried about him.”
Beimel retired his first two batters in the 10th before John McDonald hit a bloop double off the glove of second baseman Jeff Kent near the foul line. Gregg Zaun, sidelined since April 25 because of a broken right thumb, bounced a single down the line off the glove of Abreu as McDonald scored.
McGowan, facing the Dodgers for the first time, retired 16 consecutive batters between Gonzalez’s leadoff double in the second and Kent’s leadoff double in the seventh. Gonzalez followed Kent’s hit with his eighth homer, a towering drive to right.
“Dustin’s a young, inexperienced kid with a dynamite arm, and he’s just coming into his own as a pitcher,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “He’s got everything he needs. His big thing is confidence, knowing he can throw his stuff over the plate and get outs. That was his biggest hurdle in the past, but his last four starts he’s been terrific. The sky’s the limit for him.”
Dodgers starter Brad Penny gave up one run in 7 2-3 innings. He allowed five hits, struck out seven and walked none.
Dodger Stadium organist Nancy Bea Hefley was back at work for the first time since she and husband Bill celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on June 2. She debuted with the team in 1988, the year they won their last World Series title. … The Blue Jays began a six-game trip through Los Angeles and San Francisco, so DH Frank Thomas will be limited to pinch-hitting duty just five home runs shy of 500. He has hit 243 of them as a DH, tying Edgar Martinez for the most ever in that role. … Dodgers RHP Jonathan Broxton, booed by the home crowd of 52,173 for blowing a four-run lead in the ninth inning Thursday night and walking home the winning run, relieved Penny and retired his only batter.