Dodgers Defense Turns the Tide in Win

Los Angeles cracked out 11 hits, including four home runs, to swamp Cincinnati 11-4 but three sparkling defensive plays in the bottom of the sixth inning when it was just a one-run game, plus solid relief work by Jeff Weaver, turned things in the Dodgers favor. Manny Ramirez hits his first homer since Aug. 11 and it was only his second extra-base hit in the last 14 games.

The Dodgers scored twice in the first and second innings and Cincinnati came back with four in the third to tie the game 4-4. "The knucleball wasn't working very well today, that's all," Haeger said. "It's going to happen. You live and die by it."

After Rafael Furcal homered (#7) in the top of the fifth, the Reds nearly broke the game open, loading the bases with none out. Weaver, working in relief of starter Charlie Haeger, retired the side without damage.

Leading 5-4 in the last of the sixth, Furcal went into the hole between short and third, scooped up the ball on the grass and nailed the speedy Drew Stubbs for the first out. Then a double, a walk put two on and Brandon Phillips hit a screamer down the first base line that James Loney stopped but Weaver didn't cover first so the bases were loaded again.

Ramon Troncoso took over and Scott Rolen ripped a bullet up the middle that looked like a two-run single but Orlando Hudson made a diving, glove hand stop of the ball and threw him out at first to leave the bags jammed for the second inning in succession.

The Dodgers exploded in the top of the seventh, scoring six times on a two-run single by Juan Pierre, a three run home run by Matt Kemp (#20) and a solo homer by Hudson (#6) to put the game away.

The box score illuminates the offensive fireworks but the three remarkable plays in the fifth inning were the real game-savers.

Los Angeles scored twice in the first inning, giving them a 41-11 record when scoring in the opening frame. They also lead the major leagues with a 95-40 ratio (2.38) of first inning runs vs runs allowed since 1918. The 1933 Yankees are second (2.34), followed by the 1948 Indians (2.15), the 1975 Dodgers (2.12) and the 1998 Yankees (2.08).

Juan Pierre, playing center field in place of Andre Ethier, with Matt Kemp moving to right field, singled with one out in the first and scored moments later when Manny Ramirez lined a shot over the right-field wall for a home run, his 14th of the season.

Four singles --Mark Loretta, Orlando Hudson, Brad Ausmus (RBI) plus Rafael Furcal's sac fly-- scored two more in the second. Pierre also singled but Ausmus was thrown out at home to end the inning.

Starter Charlie Haeger started strongly, allowing only a walk in the first two innings, striking out three, only to see the Reds batter the knuckleballer for four runs on four hits, including a home run, and a walk in the third inning before Jeff Weaver could warm quickly and come to his rescue.

Seven Dodger batters went out in order before Furcal homered in the top of the fifth, putting Los Angeles back in the lead.

Weaver almost went the way of Haeger in the last of the fifth inning. He gave up a single and a double before hitting the third batter, loading the bases with none out. Then Furcal threw out a runner at the plate, the next popped up and Weaver fanned the third to miraculously escape from the bases-loaded mess.

Los Angeles had something going in the top of the sixth after Kemp singled and Loney walked. Loretta was called out on strikes and Kemp was picked off second. Hudson walked but Ausmus popped up to end the threat.

The pesky Reds loaded the bases again in the sixth but the three remarkable plays kept them away from home plate.

Then in the seventh, perhaps sparked by the defensive plays, the offense got untracked and rammed six runs across the plate off to Cincinnati relievers. Ether opened with a pinch-hit double, Furcal beat out a bunt and moved to second to an error. Ramirez walked and Kemp slugged a three-run shot that traveled 466-feet, after a walk to Loney and a double play ball by Loretta, Hudson whacked the second home run of the inning and suddenly Los Angeles was up 11-4.

Ron Belisario and Guillermo Mota added scoreless innings to close out the win, giving the Dodgers a 20-4 record over the Reds since 2006.

Weaver earned the win, boosting his record to 6-4. The Giants beat the Rockies again. Colorado trails the Dodgers by five games and San Francisco is six behind.

In the final game of the series the Dodgers will send LHP Clayton Kershaw (8-7, 2.96 ERA)?in search of his ninth win. Kershaw held the Rockies to two runs on four hits before reaching his pitch limit after 6.1 innings in his last start. The Dodgers have scored only eight runs in his last 40 innings and he's winless in his last seven starts. Kershaw has never faced the Reds.

Cincinnati will send RHP Bronson Arroyo (11-12, 4.43 ERA) to the mound with a 1.89 ERA in five August starts and a streak of six-straight quality starts. However, he has just one win over his past seven starts. He has allowed two runs over his past 24 innings.

 Score by innings
Los Angeles	220 010 600-11
Cincinnati	004 000 000- 4

Furcal ss	4  2  2  2  .259
 Castro ss	0  0  0  0  .301
Pierre cf-lf	5  2  3  2  .324
Ramirez lf	3  2  1  2  .306
 Belisario p	1  0  0  0  .000
 Mota p	        0  0  0  0  .333
Kemp rf-cf	2  1  2  3  .315
Loney 1b	2  0  0  0  .275
Loretta 3b	5  1  1  0  .225
Hudson 2b	3  2  2  1  .292
Ausmus c	4  0  1  1  .291
Haeger p	1  0  0  0  .000
 Weaver p	1  0  0  0  .231
 Troncoso p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Totals	        35 11 14 11
 Cincinnati	38  4 11  4

 Error- Hudson (6). Two-base hits- Ethier (34).
HR- Ramirez (14), Furcal (7), Kemp (20), Hudson
(6). RBI- Ramirez 2 (48), Ausmus (9), Furcal 2
(38), Pierre 2(28), Kemp 3 (80), Hudson (58).
S- Haeger. SF- Furcal. LOB- Los Angeles 4,
Cincinnati 11. CS- Kemp (7). Double plays- Hudson
and Loney.

 Los Angeles	in  h r-er bb so  era
Haeger	        2.1  4  4-4  2  3  3.86
Weaver (6-4)	3.1  6  0-0  1  4  3.52
Troncoso	0.1  0  0-0  0  0  2.65
Belisario	2.0  1  0-0  0  1  2.18
Mota       	1.0  0  0-0  0  0  3.34 
 WP- Weaver. HBP- by Weaver. T- 3:23.
Att- 25,744.


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