Lilly retires last 20 batters in Dodgers debut
He also never forgot the way current Dodgers manager Joe Torre kept sending him to the mound when he was struggling with the New York Yankees.
Everything came full circle with Lilly on Tuesday night.
The 34-year-old left-hander outpitched San Diego’s Mat Latos(notes) with seven superb innings and the Dodgers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the NL West-leading Padres on Tuesday night.
“Naturally, I was a little anxious and maybe a little nervous. But you just have to deal with those feelings and settle down,” said Lilly, who retired his final 20 batters. “It’s been a long time since I’ve gone out there and contributed.”
The reunion couldn’t have worked out better for Lilly and Torre, who managed him from 2000-02.
“This is a special night for me, no question about it,” Lilly said. “I really enjoyed playing for Joe in New York. He really gave me my chance when I wasn’t pitching well there. He stuck with me, and that’s not usually how it works in New York with young guys, because you’re not going to see too much action when you’re struggling. So I was lucky that he gave me a shot.”
Lilly (3-9) allowed two hits, did not walk a batter and struck out five before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter after 87 pitches. He was obtained on Saturday from the Cubs with infielder Ryan Theriot(notes) in a deal that sent second baseman Blake DeWitt(notes) and two minor leaguers to Chicago.
“Lilly made it look easy. He gave up two hits in the first inning, and that was it,” Torre said. “When you go to a new club, it’s awfully nice to be able to pay dividends right away. This kid has got a lot of passion inside, but he’s really calm out there. Lilly certainly gave us a lift tonight. We beat one of the better pitchers in the league.”
Los Angeles is the sixth team Lilly has pitched for in his 12-year career, although the Dodgers selected him in the 23rd round of the 1996 draft. In his four previous career starts at Dodger Stadium, the two-time All-Star gave up 15 earned runs and five homers in 14 2-3 innings and was 0-2.
Lilly threw a no-hitter for the Dodgers’ Class-A San Bernardino club in 1997, but didn’t get a chance to pitch for the big club before he was dealt to Montreal at the trading deadline in 1998 in a multiplayer swap with Los Angeles.
“I was young and it was the first time I had ever been traded, so I was crushed,” Lilly said. “From the day that I signed, every day I thought about pitching for the Dodgers. So when I realized it wasn’t going to happen, It definitely took some time to get over it. But I’ve been through that a few more times since then, and now I understand that you can’t control so much where you are. But the bottom line is that if you’re playing in the big leagues, you’re pretty fortunate.”
“The biggest thing was that Lilly didn’t leave a lot of pitches over the plate,” Gonzalez said. “He stayed on the corners, and just continued to pitch out there. So it was tough to square up a ball.”
Broxton pitched a scoreless ninth for his 21st save in 25 attempts. In his previous 11 appearances beginning on June 27, the All-Star closer had allowed 12 earned runs, 15 hits and eight walks over 10 2-3 innings, had blown two of his six save opportunities and was charged with three losses.
“We need to get him back (in the groove), because he certainly is too important for us not to have him pitching like this,” Torre said. “This is going to be good for his confidence. It was a good outing for him against the middle of their lineup.”
Latos (11-5) allowed two runs and four hits over six innings and struck out six on the way to his first loss since June 4, after going 6-0 in his previous eight starts. The 22-year-old right-hander, who came in with the second-best opponents batting average in the majors (.195), is 10-2 with a 1.66 ERA in his last 15 outings.
“Those two walks hurt Mat, but he pitched a great game,” Gonzalez said. “We should have given him a no-decision. It was one of those tough-luck losses for him. He didn’t deserve to lose.”
NOTES: LF Manny Ramirez’s(notes) anticipated minor league rehab assignment has been delayed at least one more week, as he recovers from a right calf strain that put him on the DL for the third time this season. He is in the final season of a two-year, $45 million contract with Los Angeles. … The Dodgers recalled RHP Ramon Troncoso(notes) from Triple-A Albuquerque and placed RHP Jeff Weaver(notes) on the 15-day DL because of tendinitis in his left knee. … Carroll started at SS for the Dodgers in place of All-Star Rafael Furcal(notes), who strained his back while making a throw in Monday’s 10-5 loss and underwent an MRI on Tuesday. Furcal was limited to 36 games in 2008 because of a back injury that forced him to undergo surgery.