Just off a painful, ninth-inning loss to San Diego, the win was just what the doctor ordered. And the two, two-run home runs were the exact prescription necessary.
Luis Gonzalez's two-run homer in the seventh inning (#8) put the Dodgers on the board for the first time and erased a 1-0 lead. Then Saito, who hadn't seen action since the Pittsburgh series with a tight hamstring, threw a gopher ball of his own to tie the score in the ninth.
Then it was Joe Beimel's turn to blow a save, with more than a little help from second baseman Jeff Kent.
Kent dropped a popup in short right in the top of the 10th and a blistering shot that Tony Abreu couldn't handle gave the Blue Jays a 3-2 margin.
Abreu's walk in the bottom of the inning preceded Saenz's game-winning line drive and like a feel-good movie, everyone went home happy. Well, everyone but the Toronto folks.
Saenz's first walk-off homer since he played for Oakland in 2002, coupled with a Padres (and Arizona) loss, left the Dodgers 1 1/2 games behind San Diego and a half-game behind the Diamondbacks.
Jeff Penny pitched just about as good as he could, allowing a single run on five hits before leaving in the eighth inning. He struck out seven and lowered his ERA to 2.26.
He blew away the first he faced, stumbled a bit in the fourth then Alex Rios led off the inning with a double, moved to third on Vernon Wells' sac fly and scored on Troy Glaus' single to right. But he saw to it that no other Blue Jay got as far as second base before leaving in the eighth.
Saito's streak of 26 consecutive save opportunities and 17 in a row this year was forgotten. Rudy Seanez (3-1) relieved Beimel in the 10th and retired Alex Rios on a pop fly to earn the save. The Dodgers managed only two hits through six innings. Both eventually made it to third, and both stayed there. The six innings took just a tad over one hour to play.
Penny trailed 1-0 after seven but then in the bottom of the inning Jeff Kent doubled Gonzalez's home run seemed to be enough to give the right-hander his eighth victory of the season.
With two out in the eighth, pinch-hitter Frank Thomas singled and Dodgers manager Grady Little called in Jonathan Broxton from the bullpen. Penny, who was sick before his losing start in Anaheim, agreed with the move.
"We could do a double switch and maybe get some runs, so it was time," he said. Broxton, with the memory of Thursday night's loss fresh in everyone's mind, struck out Rios swinging to end the inning.
Then the emotional ninth and 10th inning put a finishing flourish on the first interleague game of the season.
Derek Lowe (6-5, 3.44 ERA) takes the mound tonight for the Dodgers in the the second game of the three-game series with Shaun Marcum (2-2, 4.06) who is 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA in five starts after going 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA in 13 relief appearances.
Score by innings Toronto 000 100 001 1-3 Los Angeles 000 000 200 2-4 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Pierre cf 4 0 1 0 .269 Furcal ss 4 0 0 0 .289 Garciaparra 1b 4 0 1 0 .279 Kent 2b 4 1 2 0 .264 Gonzalez lf 3 1 2 2 .294 Clark lf 1 0 0 0 .224 Martin c 4 0 0 0 .302 Ethier rf 4 0 0 0 .267 Penny p 2 0 0 0 .231 Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000 Betemit ph 0 0 0 0 .187 Kemp pr 0 0 0 0 .429 Saito p 0 0 0 0 .000 Beimel p 0 0 0 0 .000 Seanez p 0 0 0 0 .000 Saenz ph 1 1 1 2 .224 Totals 34 4 7 4 Toronto 36 3 8 3 2B- Gonzalez (10), Kent (16). HR- Gonzalez ((8), Saenz (3). RBI- Gonzalez 2 (3), Saenz 2 (9). SB- Pierre (19). LOB- Los Angeles 5, Toronto . DP- Kent, Furcal and Garciaparra; Abreu, Kent and Garciaparra. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Penny 4.2 5 1-1 0 7 2.26 Broxton 0.1 0 0-0 0 1 4.11 Saito 1.0 1 1-1 1 0 1.80 Beimel 0.2 2 1-1 0 0 3.71 Seanez (3-1) 0.1 0 0-0 0 0 3.00 WP- Penny. T- 2:42. Att- 2,173.All Sanez point to Olmedo-- Olmedo Saenz smacked his seventh pinch-hit homer as a Dodger, moving into third place on the all-time charts behind Dave Hansen (13) and Lee Lacy (8). He had been tied at six with Ken McMullen, Chris Gwynn and Bill Ashley. The pinch-hit is his 42nd to move within one of Duke Snider and Mitch Webster. Hansen (110), Mota (106) and Gwynn (52) hold the top three slots.
Dodger Blue Notes-- The player with the highest batting average on the team (.429) was available but did not get a plate appearance. Matt Kemp was recalled from Las Vegas and did run for Wilson Betemit who had walked after hitting for Broxton in the eighth. Kemp went 6-for-14 with the Dodgers in April before being optioned and got the call after hitting .329 with the 51s and after his 14-game hitting streak ended Thursday night. "Kemp will get his share of playing time," Little said. "It could be all over the outfield. We feel like this adds to our ballclub, and we feel like he can make a difference in some games." To make room for Kemp, the Dodgers placed utility man Ramon Martinez on the 15-day disabled list with a lower-back ailment that had plagued him all week. ...Luis Gonzalez home run in the eighth was his 334th as a left fielder, passing Ralph Kiner and trailing only Ted Williams (477 and Barry Bonds (710). ...Before the 52,000+ fans showed up Friday night, Los Angeles passed the three million mark in tickets sold. ...The Dodgers drafted 21 pitchers, eight infielders, seven outfielders and four catchers in the draft that took place Thursday and Friday. They were one of just a few clubs that did not participate in all 50 rounds. ...The Dodgers have agreed in principle to sell the contract of Las Vegas outfielder Mitch Jones to the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japanese Pacific League for $375,000. Jones, a corner infielder by trade who was playing mostly in the outfield for the 51s, hit .303 with 19 homers and 60 RBIs. But he wasn't on the Dodgers' 40-man roster and wasn't a candidate for a big-league callup.?