Ten Top Games of 2005

When we thought about picking the top 10 wins of 2005, we could hear voices in the background saying, "That's not all that tough, they didn't win many more than that." Cynicism aside, you'll find that a disproportionate number of the wins were against the Giants. It has always been thus; if you can't win the pennant, it's best to beat San Francisco or before that, New York. You take your little victories where you can find them.

The games are loosely ranked, with no particular attempt to come up with exact numerical list of wins in a season that had so many disappointments, although for sheer excitement, the first game listed is Number 1 in our book. The rest are in chronological order.

Sunday, August 14th-- The Mets Pedro Martinez took a no-hitter and a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning, and writers were scrambling to compile a list for their stories. (There were 18 of the, including Don Larsen's perfecto in the World Series; six in Los Angeles and none by a former Dodger).

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Hall of Fame.

Martinez, who parlayed an 86 mph fastball and his trademark change-up, had allowed only a five pitch walk to Milton Bradley in the fifth inning when he fanned Ricky Ledee to open the eighth.

But with one out, Antonio Perez drilled a triple to deep centerfield that the Mets' Gerald Williams seemed to have a chance to catch. But a bad jump on the ball didn't allow him to catch it and it banged off the wall with Perez stopping at third with a triple.

Just as suddenly, Jayson Werth laced a 1-1 shot deep into the seats in left. From the moment he made contact there was no doubt about it. "I was ready," Werth said. "He threw me fastballs and got me out in my second at-bat. I was ready for a fastball, and he got it up and I hit it."

It was the first homer of the season for Werth.

Martinez, who dropped to 12-5, got a pair of ground balls to end the inning. The triple and homer were the only hits he allowed while striking out five.

Starter Brad Penny, 6-7, went the distance, allowing just the one New York run while scattering 10 hits. He also struck out a season-high nine batters.

But in customary Dodger fashion, Penny nearly lost the game in the ninth inning. Marlon Anderson drilled a one-out double to left, and then advanced to third when Penny bounced a wild pitch.

Former Dodger minor leaguer Victor Diaz worked the count full, then hit a check-swing dribbler between the mound and first base. Anderson charged home on the virtual squeeze play, but Perez -- who carried the no-field label until traded after the season -- came up with the slow-roller out of the grass and made a sharp throw to catcher Dioner Navarro at the plate for the out.

Penny struck out Kaz Matsui to end the game and hand the Mets their third defeat in four contests.

Tuesday, April 12th-- Milton Bradley lined a two-run single to tie the game and a fielding error enabled the winning run to score in the bottom of the ninth, as the Dodgers scored four times before 55,892 fans, a regular season record.

The Dodgers trailed the Giants 8-5 entering the home half of the ninth. Pinch-hitter Ricky Ledee opened with double off Armando Benitez and Cesar Izturis singled. After pinch-hitter Jose Valentin popped out, J.D. Drew and Jeff Kent received consecutive walks to force in a run.

Bradley then singled to left to knock in Izturis and Drew. On the play, Ellison misplayed the ball and Kent was able to score all the way from first to give Los Angeles the 9-8 victory.

Giovanni Carrara (1-0) picked up the win with two scoreless innings of relief. San Francisco sent 10 men to the plate in the top of the first and scored five runs on six hits. Starter Jeff Weaver left after three trailing 8-3/

Bradley finished with three runs batted in, while Jason Repko hit a two-run homer (#2). Izturis was 3-for-5 with two runs scored for Los Angeles, which has won five of its last six games.

Tuesday, April 19th-- Milton Bradley's two-run homer in the top of the 10th inning boosted the Dodgers over Milwaukee as they fought back from a 6-0 deficit to win 8-6.

Jason Grabowski had a pinch-hit homer that scored the first Dodger run in the sixth.

The Brewers. leading 6-1, were one out away from being out of the seventh when Jason Phillips singled to drive in a run. Olmedo Saenz knocked in another run and Izturis' two-run double cut the Brewers' lead to 6-5.

The Dodgers were down to their final strike twice in the top of the ninth inning, but tied the game on a single by Cesar Izturis.

J.D. Drew drew a leadoff walk to start the 10th and Bradley homered over the wall in center field to give the Dodgers an 8-6 lead.

Giovanni Carrara (2-0) retired all three batters he faced in the ninth for the win. Yhency Brazoban put the first two batters on base to start the home half of the 10th, but struck out the next two hitters before getting a fly out to end the game.

Wednesday, April 20th-- Jose Valentin's two-run triple in the top of the 10th inning lifted the red-hot Dodgers to a 3-1 victory over the San Diego Padres and moved their record to 12-2 on the young season.

Happily, no one knew Los Angeles would go 59-89 the rest of the season and finish in fourth place in the N.L. West.

By winning 12 of 14 games they equalled the best start in franchise history. The team also went 12-2 in 1940 and 1955 when the club was still based in Brooklyn.

The Padres opened the scoring with a run in the first but couldn't get another run off Lowe. Los Angeles would tie the game in the eighth inning on J.D. Drew's home run, his second of the year.

With one out in the 10th inning and the scored tied 1-1, Drew reached first on throwing error and Jeff Kent drew a walk. After a Milton Bradley pop-up, Valentin ripped a liner to deep right to snap the 1-1 tie.

Lowe, who tossed a shutout against the Padres in his last start, threw 123 pitches in the no decision. Yhency Brazoban worked a scoreless ninth to pick up his fourth save of the season. Duaner Sanchez (1-1) picked up the win after a scoreless ninth.

Drew went 3-for-5 and tied the game in with a solo homer in the eighth inning for LA.

Friday, May 6th-- Jeff Kent tied a franchise record, driving in five runs in one inning, as Los Angeles scored 10 times in the first frame on the way to a 13-6 win at Cincinnati.

Kent went 3-for-5, slugging a two run homer and a three-run double in the first inning, tying Dusty Baker for the franchise record for most RBI in one inning. The last time the Dodgers scored 10 runs in an inning was September 13, 1977 against San Diego, during which Baker plated 5-of-10 second-inning runs.

With the exception of Milton Bradley, every Dodger starter recorded at least one hit with Hee Seop Choi going 3-for-4 with two home runs, three RBI and three runs scored.

Benefiting from the support was starter Brad Penny (2-0). Penny carried a no-hitter through 5.1 innings. He permitted just one hit, mixing in four strikeouts and two walks in seven scoreless innings to earn the win.

In the Dodger half of the first inning, Cesar Izturis was hit by a pitch and Choi lined a home run to right field, giving LA a 2-0 lead. J.D. Drew then singled and Kent cracked another two-run shot.

Bradley then walked and Olmedo Saenz was hit by a pitch before Ricky Ledee launched a two-run double to deep left-center field, for a 6-0 advantage. The Dodgers added another run when Jason Phillips poked an RBI double.

Penny, the ninth batter to the plate, sacrificed Phillips to third for the first out, and after Izturis grounded out, Choi and Drew walked to load the bases with two outs. Kent then crushed a bases-clearing double to dead center to give the Dodgers a 10-0 edge. Bradley struck out to end the inning.

LA made it 12-0 in the fourth as Kent doubled and scored on another double by Saenz, who then touched the plate on a sacrifice fly by Phillips. A solo shot by Choi in the seventh gave the Dodgers a 13-0 advantage.

Sunday, June 12th-- Hee Seop Choi was a one-man wrecking crew, belting a career-high three homers key a 4-3 win over Minnesota.

Each of Choi's shots came with the bases empty and he hit a home run in every game of the series to finished with six inn the three-game series.

He became the first Dodger to hit at least three home runs in a game since Shawn Green belted four on May 23, 2002. The last LA player to hit exactly three in a contest was also Green, when he did it on August 15, 2001.

J.D. Drew ended 2-for-4 with a solo homer for the only other Dodger run, and six wins in their last eight games.

D.J. Houlton (2-0) earned the win in his second start of the season. Houlton permitted three runs on seven hits over six innings while striking out eight and walking two.

Choi homered in the first, third and sixth innings before striking out with two on in the eighth,

Choi ended the series 6-for-12 with seven RBI.

Yhency Brazoban worked a perfect eighth before Eric Gagne set Minnesota down in order in the ninth to earn his eighth save.

Saturday, July 16th-- San Francisco took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second off starter Odalis Perez and the Dodgers answered with a run in the bottom half of the second when Hee-Seop Choi doubled and scored on Jason Repko's one-out single to right.

The Dodgers took the lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third when Choi was hit by a pitch and Edwards singled. Back-to-back RBI singles by Jayson Werth and Repko put Los Angeles up 3-2.

However, the Giants tied the game in the fourth and took the lead in the top of the sixth.

Los Angeles trailed 4-3 entering the bottom of the ninth and Giants reliever Tyler Walker (2-2) retired the first two batters he faced. However, he issued a four-pitch walk to pinch-hitter Olmedo Saenz to open the door for the Dodgers.

Oscar Robles followed with a single to center that advanced Chin-Feng Chen, who was running for Saenz, to third. Izturis then sent a grounder down the first base line that hit the bag and went into right field for an RBI double that tied the game at 4-4 and moved Robles to third. Walker intentionally walked Jeff Kent to load the bases with two outs for Phillips, who appeared to have struck out swinging at an 0-2 pitch to send the game into extra innings. However, the first base umpire ruled that Phillips checked his swing to give him new life, a call that Felipe Alou was still screaming about after the game.

Phillips, with a second chance, singled under the outstretched glove of Giants second baseman Ray Durham to bring home Robles with the winning run.

Steve Schmoll (2-0) picked up the win for Los Angeles, striking out three in two perfect innings of relief.

Wednesday, August 31st-- Jerry Harriston, leadoff batter for the Cubs inn the bottom of the first, scuffed a little grounder toward third base to open the game and third baseman Mike Edwards made a do-or-die attempt to field it -- and he died, the ball trickling off his glove for a scratch hit.

Those watching didn't think much about it at the time as Derek Lowe got a double play and a strikeout to end the inning. But it became a pretty big thing when Lowe went on to allowed only a pair of walks the rest of the way and finishing with a one-hit shutout.

Lowe (9-13) picked up his first win in his last five starts and was helped by newly acquired Jose Cruz Jr. who collected three RBI in the 7-0 at Wrigley Field.

It was the right-hander's second shutout of the year and his second one-hitter. Lowe permitted only one hit in eight innings against Cincinnati in a win on July 25.

Jayson Werth and Olmedo Saenz each added two RBI for the Dodgers, who won for just the fifth time in 11 games. Cruz finished the day 3-for-3, reaching base four times and falling a home run short of the cycle.

Tuesday, September 6-- Brett Tomko left after seven innings with a 2-1 but in the bottom of the eighth a double by Jayson Werth and singles by Oscar Robles and Jeff Kent tied the game 1-1.

Then in the bottom of the 10t inning Kent slugged a two-run homer (#26) with Robles on base for a 4-2 victory, making Yhency Brazoban (3-8) the winner.

Kent ended 3-for-4 with three runs batted in for the Dodgers, who halted a four-game losing streak. Jose Cruz Jr. added a solo homer in the victory, his first as a Dodger.

The win killed the Giants six-game winning streak. Jeremy Accardo (0-4) struck out the first two Dodgers in the 10th before Oscar Robles singled. Kent then drove a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left to end the game. It was his 26th homer of the season.

"I swing the bat. I try to be aggressive at the plate. I wasn't thinking too much up there. I just wanted to swing the bat," said Kent.

Yhency Brazoban (3-8) picked up the win after tossing a scoreless top of the 10th. Starter Brad Penny worked six innings and allowed six hits and one run.

Wednesday, September 7th-- The Dodgers jumped in front 4-2 after one inning on a Jose Cruz home run and led 5-2 into the seventh before the Giants scored four times and added another in the eighth.

Jeff Kent smacked his 27th homer of the year in the bottom of the inning but trailed 8-5 going into the last of the ninth.

With Giants closer Armando Benitez on the mound, Hee Seop Choi struck out and Ricky Ledee drew a walk. Then the most improbable of people, Oscar Robles, hit his second homer of the year, a drive that just made it over the right field wall, to tie the game.

Kent walked, Olmedo Saenz hit the ball back to pitcher Jeremy Accardo who helpfully threw the ball into center field, moving the runners to second and third. Cruz was intentionally walked.

Mike Edwards then lined a shot into right center field to drive in the winning run, giving the Dodgers the rubber game of the series and their final home win over the Giants.

Jose Cruz Jr. launched two home runs, one from each side of the plate, and ended 3- for-4 with four RBI. Cruz was the first Dodger to homer from both sides of the plate since Hall-of- Famer Eddie Murray did it in 1990. Robles went 3-for-5 with three runs batted in.

Yhency Brazoban (4-8) earned the win after tossing a scoreless top of the ninth.