Gwynn's pinch RBI picks up Harang, Dodgers

Gwynn's pinch RBI picks up Harang, Dodgers

Gwynn's pinch RBI picks up Harang, Dodgers
LOS ANGELES -- Life is good for the Dodgers, who are winning even without Matt Kemp home runs.

As manager Don Mattingly has been saying, the Dodgers will need contributions from others, and others contributed Saturday night, when Aaron Harang pitched four-hit ball for eight innings then was removed for pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn, whose RBI single lifted the Dodgers to a 2-1 win over the Rockies.

"Matt and Andre [Ethier] are our two catalysts, our one-two punch, but you know we have to find ways to scratch for runs," Mattingly said.

Although Kemp is homerless in May, the Dodgers again have the best record in baseball. With a six-game cushion, they have the largest lead in any division and are 11 games over .500. They are 14-3 at home and 11-4 against the National League West.

Juan Uribe drove in the other Dodgers run in the fifth inning, cashing in Ethier's leadoff double. Uribe has driven in runs in three consecutive games for the first time in more than a year.

Ethier continues his free-agency salary drive. He went 2-for-3, is 10-for-19 on the homestand with five extra-base hits, he's raised his average 40 points in the last five games to .309 and still leads the NL with 32 RBIs in 33 games.

Kemp is dealing with a tender left hamstring and, after slugging a dozen homers in April, is 0-for-May in long balls. He's also 0-for-11 in hits after going 0-for-3 against Rockies starter Juan Nicasio, but the box score doesn't show the two towering fly balls that died on the center-field warning track in the cool night air.

Gwynn's RBI single scored James Loney, who led off the bottom of the eighth with a cue-shot infield single. Loney played an even bigger role with his glove in this game, erasing a run with a spectacular play in the third inning and saving three errant throws at first base.

After Loney's eighth-inning single, manager Don Mattingly had A.J. Ellis bunt Loney to second. Earlier in the week, Mattingly endured intense second-guessing for bunting in similar situations that had very different conclusions.

"I just make decisions trying to win," Mattingly said. "You hear all different stuff, but I make decisions, and they work sometimes. To me, it doesn't mean you're wrong if it doesn't work out. It always depends on where you are in the order."

Gwynn, whose role has been diminished since last week's signing of Bobby Abreu, sent a soft liner to left-center off reliever Matt Belisle that wouldn't have scored Loney if he hadn't been bunted to second. Gwynn was 1-for-10 lifetime against Belisle before the at-bat.

"This is part of the many hats I wear on this ballclub," said Gwynn, who is 4-for-9 as a pinch-hitter this year, including a game-winning three-run pinch-triple Wednesday night.

This was Harang's best start as a Dodger, pitching the most innings and allowing the fewest runs of any of his seven starts this year while evening his record at 2-2.

"I felt like I was locating the ball well," said Harang, who allowed a tying homer to Tyler Colvin on a 2-0 pitch with two outs in the seventh inning. "Other than that [pitch to Colvin], I was able to keep them off-balance and the defense was there."

"He [Harang] didn't give hardly anyone a good pitch to hit, but I got to 2-0 on him and tried to get one out of the way, and finally did," Colvin said.

Loney not only got the winning rally started, he also kept the Rockies down with his glove. Loney, who has never won a Gold Glove, made the kind of play that wins them in the third inning with one out and a runner on third by diving to his right to glove Marco Scutaro's sharp grounder, bouncing to his feet and throwing Wilin Rosario out at the plate.

"It was one of those no, no, no ... great play," said Mattingly. "He threw the ball almost off his back. He's got a big arm and he's able to do things a lot of guys can't."

The play loomed even larger when Jonathan Herrera followed with a flare double to put runners on second and third. Picking their poison, the Dodgers intentionally walked Carlos Gonzalez to load the bases for Troy Tulowitzki, who ended the inning by flying out to center.

"Plays like that don't go unnoticed," Harang said. "He does a great job at first, saves a lot of runs for you."

Kenley Jansen pitched a scoreless ninth for his third save of the year and first since succeeding Javy Guerra as Dodgers closer.

A.J. Ellis, in addition to his sacrifice bunt, singled and has reached base in 22 consecutive games.

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