Rafael Furcal’s 11th-inning homer sends Dodgers to 5-4 win over Reds; L.A. stops 6-game skid
CINCINNATI (AP)—The Los Angeles Dodgers kept turning to an unlikely source for some much-needed punch, and it finally paid off with a win.
Leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal, who ended three innings with runners in scoring position, homered in the 11th and the Dodgers snapped a season-high six-game losing streak with a 5-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday.
“I was frustrated because I left so many runners on base,” said Furcal, who left a total of four runners in scoring position with a strikeout, a popup and a groundout. “I concentrated a little more in that last at-bat. I got a pitch down the middle. I don’t know what it was, but I got a good swing on it. It made me very excited because of the way we’ve been playing.”
Furcal’s fifth homer of the season came off Victor Santos (1-4) and helped Los Angeles avoid a three-game sweep. The Dodgers went 28 innings without scoring before pushing across a run in the first. They were shut out in their previous three games and four of their past five.
Los Angeles manager Grady Little suspects the comeback win could jump-start his lethargic team.
“I’m sure something like that can get us started,” Little said. “We’ve been through it before, but you can’t get ahead of yourself. You can’t play tomorrow’s ballgame, or yesterday’s. You have to play the game today.”
Reds interim manager Pete Mackanin didn’t expect Los Angeles to go the entire series without scoring.
“That’s one of those games that got away,” he said. “You look at the series, we take two out of three. It would’ve been nice to sweep, but they were due to snap out of it.”
Delwyn Young went 4-for-4 in his second major league start for Los Angeles. He left with cramping in his calves after legging out a double in the eighth.
Gonzalez followed Edwin Encarnacion’s single in the second inning with his 16th homer, giving the Reds a 3-2 lead. The Dodgers tied it on Olmedo Saenz’s sacrifice fly in the seventh off reliever Eddie Guardado, making his first appearance of the season. The left-hander, who had reconstructive surgery on his elbow last September, hadn’t pitched in the majors since Aug. 19.
Guardado’s failure cost Cincinnati rookie Phil Dumatrait his first career win. The left-hander, who lasted just 3 1-3 innings in his major league debut on Aug. 2, allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings.
“For the first couple of innings I still had some butterflies, but I calmed down and I thought I threw some quality pitches,” Dumatrait said. “I definitely threw a lot of quality off-speed pitches. I even threw some changeups and curves when I was behind in the count—kept them off-balance. I felt like today was a step in the right direction.”
The Reds regained the lead when Norris Hopper scored on Joe Beimel’s balk in the seventh, but Los Angeles tied the game again in the eighth against Jared Burton when pinch-runner Andre Ethier scored from second on Ramon Martinez’s single.
Los Angeles’ Brett Tomko lasted six innings against his former team. The right-hander gave up three runs and six hits.
“I wish I could take back that slider I hung (to Gonzalez),” Tomko said. “He just as easily could have popped it up, and I would have told you what a good pitch it was.”
The Dodgers ended their scoreless streak in the first. They loaded the bases with none out and Jeff Kent hit a sacrifice fly.
The Reds tied it in the bottom half when Hopper scored from third on Brandon Phillips’ groundout. Los Angeles regained a one-run lead in the second on Martinez’s sacrifice fly.
Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani stopped by Great American Ball Park during the game. The former New York City mayor was making a campaign fundraising stop in Cincinnati. … Cincinnati’s Jeff Keppinger made his first career start in left field, giving Adam Dunn a rest. … Dodgers first baseman Olmedo Saenz snapped an 0-for-15 slump with a first-inning single. … The Reds optioned RHP Todd Coffey to Triple-A Louisville to make room for OF Jason Ellison, who was claimed off waivers from Seattle. … Dunn was ejected while arguing with plate umpire Paul Emmel after taking strike three as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.