Even in his wildest imagination, he probably didn’t think it would happen against a bunch of guys who were his teammates a couple days earlier.
Facing the team that traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers just three days earlier, Garland retired his last 14 batters to lead the NL West leaders to a 4-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night and a split of the four-game series.
When the Diamondbacks got to Los Angeles to begin this seven-game trip, Garland was slated to face Dodgers’ knuckleballer Charlie Haeger(notes) in the series finale. But the 29-year-old right-hander switched teams during Monday night’s game with the deadline for eligibility in the postseason looming.
“I think it was more uncomfortable because I was in that other dugout the first game and then came over,” Garland said. “I mean, if it would have been like a week or two weeks down the road, it would have been a little bit different. But the fact that it was in the same series, there was a little extra the first few innings.”
Garland (9-11) gave up two runs and five hits over seven innings, including a solo homer by Stephen Drew(notes). The right-hander, coming off back-to-back wins against Houston—including a seven-inning scoreless stint last Saturday—has won three consecutive starts after going 1-9 with a 4.50 ERA over his previous 16 outings.
No Dodgers outfielder made a putout the entire time Garland was out there. He struck out six, retired one batter on a line drive, two more on popups, and got 12 of his outs on ground balls—including double plays that ended the first and second innings.
“Being able to go out there and give this team a good quality start, coming out of the game with the lead and ending up winning it, I couldn’t have asked for much more,” Garland said. “Once I finally calmed down and got my feet underneath me, the ball started moving a little bit more and I was getting more ground balls and we got off a nice little run.”
It’s the first time Garland has won three straight starts since May 2007 with the White Sox, when he beat the Angels, Royals and Yankees.
“It’s always a challenge, facing a guy that you’ve been close with all year,” Arizona third baseman Mark Reynolds(notes) said. “Gar’s a great guy. We wanted to go out there and lay something on him, but he pitched a great game and got a lot of ground-ball outs. We really couldn’t string anything together.
“He’s seen us hit all year, so he knows our weaknesses and our strengths,” Reynolds added. “Facing us this soon, I’m sure he had a good game plan on what he wanted to do. After that shaky first inning or two, he settled down and was throwing his sinker and was able to get a lot of ground balls.”
The only other time Garland pitched at Dodger Stadium was on June 3, when he allowed a run and four hits over six innings but gave up a sacrifice fly by Casey Blake(notes) after a triple by Matt Kemp(notes) and lost 1-0. The 10-year veteran was born in Valencia, Calif., and played his high school ball in nearby Granada Hills.
“It was fun. I grew up coming to games here, and getting a chance to pitch for this team is definitely a dream come true,” Garland said. “It’s kind of awkward the way it happened—but nevertheless, it did—and I was able to throw a good one up. I didn’t leave too many tickets. I cut the phone off and told people if they want to come, they can pay for it and support the team.”
Billy Buckner(notes) (2-6) gave up four runs and eight hits in six innings and struck out four. The right-hander is 0-5 with a gaudy 11.10 ERA in his last five starts with the Diamondbacks since beating the Dodgers 3-2 on June 1 at Los Angeles with six scoreless innings of four-hit ball.
It was Buckner’s first start since being recalled from Triple-A Reno on Monday, and it was Garland’s departure that enabled it to happen.
“I guess it’s good for him that he can go over there and be on a contender, but it was also an opportunity for me. So I was happy about it,” Buckner said.
The Dodgers grabbed a 3-2 lead in the fourth. Ramirez tied it with his 16th homer and 543rd of his career. Blake, fighting a 3-for-31 rut, doubled inside third base and scored from third one out later on Belliard’s single.
Drew gave Arizona a 2-1 lead in the third with his 12th homer, driving a 1-0 pitch just beyond the outstretched glove of center fielder Kemp as he made a leaping attempt in right-center.
NOTES: Garland was the 12th pitcher to start for the Dodgers, one more than they used last season and one shy of the Los Angeles record set in 1964. The franchise mark is 19—in 1944, while World War II was still raging. … Arizona RF Justin Upton(notes) didn’t was a late scratch from the starting lineup because of a problem with his contact lenses. But he pinch-hit in the seventh and doubled.