Van Slyke's 11th-inning homer lifts Dodgers

Jon Gold, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- Kirk Gibson knows a thing or two about walk-off home runs at Dodger Stadium.
Just hours after addressing the media to discuss the 25th anniversary of his epic shot off Dennis Eckersley to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, Gibson watched another pinch-hit home run end a Los Angeles Dodgers game.
Only this time, the Arizona Diamondbacks manager didn't pump his fist too hard.
Los Angeles pinch hitter Scott Van Slyke drilled a game-deciding, two-run home run in the 11th inning Tuesday night, giving the Dodgers a 5-3 win over the Diamondbacks.
"It was fun; I was just looking to get this game over with," Van Slyke said. "It was a pretty good pitch, he kept it down, and I tried to put the bat on it and kept it fair."
After blazing through the second half of June and all of July and August, the Dodgers had reverted to the mean in early September.
Los Angeles was just 4-4 in eight September games before Tuesday, with three one-run losses in a sour series at Cincinnati.
On Tuesday, the Dodgers took a step toward regaining their midseason momentum with a second straight win over the Diamondbacks.
As occurred during the fantastic summer stretch, Los Angeles had a surprise hero.
Van Slyke cut the Dodgers' magic number for clinching the National League West title to six as he tagged a Josh Collmenter offering over the left field fence.
"It feels good it was against Arizona," Van Slyke said. "Those are the guys who are chasing us. Every game we need to win, especially against them."
Added Dodgers manager Don Mattingly: "Honestly, Scotty, huge hit. You know Scotty, he asked me if I wanted him to swing if a guy was on. Typical Scott."
Both starting pitchers went six innings before leaving it to a host of relief pitchers.
Arizona's Trevor Cahill allowed four hits and three runs (one earned) while walking four with two strikeouts. The Diamondbacks used three relievers, including Collmenter (4-3), who allowed three hits and two runs in 1 1/3 innings.
"I didn't feel great," Cahill said. "I just kinda got through it. I thought from the get-go I'd make one good pitch and then another that came out the same, and it wasn't even close. I knew it would be tough all the way. I really just couldn't get comfortable at all."
Arizona was hurt by some costly mistakes on the mound, however, as Cahill walked two with two outs and threw one of three wild pitches by Diamondbacks pitchers.
"We had three wild pitches, and I think that's over 80 now," Gibson said of the Diamondbacks' major-league-leading season total. "We made an error and we threw a ball to second base we shouldn't. In general, we'd like to take that out. Defensively, we haven't made the plays, and that cost us."
Los Angeles' Edinson Volquez allowed four hits and three runs with five strikeouts and one walk. The Dodgers followed with five relievers, and Chris Withrow (3-0) picked up the win with 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
"I thought Edinson was pretty good tonight," Mattingly said. "He bounced back after the home run and came back out strong in the next inning to give us a good inning and got us back into the ballgame."
Adrian Gonzalez had three hits to lead the Los Angeles output. Mark Ellis added two hits and two runs. His 11th-inning single immediately preceded Van Slyke's homer.
Paul Goldschmidt had two hits, including his 30th double of the year, to lead Arizona.
After Los Angeles got on the board first with two runs in the second inning on a Miguel Montero throwing error and a Yasiel Puig RBI fielder's choice, Arizona chipped away off Volquez in the middle innings.
Montero scored Goldschmidt with an RBI single in the fourth inning, and Didi Gregorius put Arizona on top with a two-run homer in the fifth.
Los Angeles tied the game at 3 in the bottom of the fifth on an Andre Ethier double that scored Hanley Ramirez.
"Andre had that big hit to tie it up, and I thought our guys were good," Mattingly said. "Then the bullpen was just -- everybody out there was doing their thing."
NOTES: Mattingly said he expects OF Matt Kemp to be able to return this season, despite the fact that Kemp was once more shut down from his rehab last week due to hamstring tightness. Kemp, out since July 22, originally because of a left ankle sprain, is currently relegated to batting in simulated games at the team's training facility in Arizona. ... With a second-inning walk, Dodgers 3B Juan Uribe extended his on-base streak to five consecutive plate appearances after a four-hit, two-homer performance Monday against the Diamondbacks. ... Tuesday marked Volquez's first home start since being signed by the Dodgers on Aug. 30 after he was released by the San Diego Padres on Aug. 27. ... The Dodgers and Diamondbacks will open the 2014 season with a two-game series in Sydney, Australia, on March 22-23.

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