Hairston's big game unable to save LA

Hairston's big game unable to save LA

Hairston's big game unable to save LA
CHICAGO -- Taking in their first game as owners, Mark Walter and partners watched the Dodgers get edged by the Cubs on Friday, 5-4, the team's third loss in the last four games.

The Chicago-based Walter, CEO Stan Kasten and partner Todd Boehly, sitting in Walter's Wrigley Field season seats near the Cubs' dugout, saw Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley fall behind early and the offense battle back late but fall short. Super-sub Jerry Hairston had his first homer, a triple and a single, half of the Dodgers' hits.

The game was played on a typical sunny, cloudy, foggy, humid, hot, cold and misty Chicago day, and ended with a little ninth-inning drama.

A.J. Ellis was awarded first base with two outs and a 2-2 count when plate umpire Marty Foster ruled he was hit by a Rafael Dolis pitch. Cubs manager Dale Sveum was ejected for arguing that the pitch missed Ellis entirely. Then newest Dodger Bobby Abreu's screaming liner into the right-center-field gap was gloved by right fielder David DeJesus, who with Alfonso Soriano led the Cubs' offensive attack with three hits apiece.

"I hit it good, but there's nothing you can do about that," said Abreu. "I thought the ball would go through the gap and we'd tie the game."

Abreu's indoctrination was quick and representative of how manager Don Mattingly will use him. He took a called third strike pinch-hitting for Billingsley in the seventh, took over in left field on a double-switch and was around long enough to get a swing with the game on the line.

"That's tough, he shows up and all of a sudden he's in there with the game on the line," said Mattingly. "He smoked the ball. At first I thought it was hit through the gap, but they must have been playing him over there."

For good reason, Sveum said.

"When you watch enough video, you put spray charts together for people, and the pitcher on the mound, they have their own spray charts, and they put a plan together and you play the 90 percent rule," he said. "The guy's going to hit the ball there 90 percent of the time, we'll play there. And sometimes you might get beat by the 10 percent rule, but in the long run, you're going to save a lot of outs, save a lot of pitches. It's a luxury you have now because of video and spray charts and everything like that."

Billingsley was in a first-inning hole after DeJesus led off with a double and was singled home from third by Starlin Castro. Bryan LaHair's groundout moved Castro to second, and he scored on a single by Soriano.

Hairston, who has done everything else this year, slugged his first home run of the season in the third inning. Hairston started at third base in place of the injured Juan Uribe and made a slick backhand play on Ian Stewart to end the third inning.

Hairston had the big game offensively even though Sveum, who coached Hairston last year in Milwaukee, deployed a defensive shift that Hairston had never seen used against him.

"He knows I hit the ball up the middle -- we talked about it last year," Hairston said. "I started laughing the first time I saw it."

DeJesus hurt Billingsley again in the fourth inning. Darwin Barney opened the inning by stealing a base on Gold Glove center fielder Matt Kemp, who didn't charge his base hit, and Barney stretched it into a double. Two outs later, with first base open, Billingsley pitched to DeJesus, and he lofted his third hit, a long triple to right-center to score Barney.

Mattingly said he considered walking DeJesus there and pitching to Tony Campana (hitting .344 coming in), but he thought the percentages were better with DeJesus (hitting .235 coming in). DeJesus got his drive into the jet stream and it just carried.

"We didn't make pitches to those two guys [DeJesus and Soriano], and they weren't missing them today," said catcher Ellis. "Sometimes you get away with it, today we didn't."

Dee Gordon effectively knocked Cubs starter Paul Maholm out of the game with a lined single off the lefty's right leg with one out in the sixth inning. Maholm finished the inning and was lifted for pinch-hitter Joe Mather, who homered.

The Dodgers scored in the seventh when Andre Ethier led off with a bloop double, and two outs later, Hairston tripled him home. But after Ellis walked to put runners on the corners, Abreu took a called third strike from Shawn Camp.

The Cubs added a run in the seventh, with Soriano doubling off Todd Coffey to score a run charged to Scott Elbert. That proved to be the decisive run, as Mark Ellis walked with one out in the top of the eighth, stole second and was tripled home by Kemp, who scored on Ethier's sacrifice fly.

"It's been kind of that way all year," Mattingly said of Elbert, who had 0-2 counts twice only to allow hits both at-bats. "Today, [LaHair] hit a good pitch. He's getting two strikes and can't put them away. For me, he's not quite as sharp with the breaking ball."

All three batters that Elbert faced reached base, one outing after he served up a walk-off home run to Jason Giambi in Colorado. Elbert has a 6.75 ERA, allowing 12 hits in 6 2/3 innings. Last year, he had a 2.43 ERA with 27 hits allowed in 33 1/3 innings.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.