De Jesus is unlikely hero as LA wins sixth straight

De Jesus is unlikely hero as LA wins sixth straight

De Jesus is unlikely hero as LA wins sixth straight
PHOENIX -- Ivan De Jesus Jr. wiped celebratory whipped cream off his face in the clubhouse after leading the Dodgers to another stunning win, although the fact that De Jesus was even in the clubhouse Tuesday night is stunning in itself.

The onetime prospect, passed over repeatedly and as recently as a week ago, delivered a two-out, two-run double in the ninth inning of a wild 8-7 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Dodgers' win streak now six.

With half of the regular starting lineup on the disabled list, those wins are coming with half of the Albuquerque Isotopes suddenly taking guest-starring roles. In this game alone, in addition to De Jesus' three RBIs, Jerry Sands had a key RBI pinch-hit double in a game-tying five-run seventh inning and Elian Herrera drew a clutch one-out walk to start the winning rally in the ninth.

Don't forget Tony Gwynn, replacing Matt Kemp in center with three hits, including a two-run single in that fifth inning and a key defensive play in the bottom of the ninth to hold Justin Upton to a one-out single and keep intact the double play that Jason Kubel grounded into with runners on the corners to end the game, shortstop Dee Gordon somehow getting the ball on a bounce to James Loney as Upton upended him with a takeout slide. Kenley Jansen notched his sixth save.

Herrera, actually, was the latest player to leap over De Jesus, called up eight days earlier to replace third baseman Juan Uribe. Herrera wasn't even on the 40-man roster, but he got the call over De Jesus, as did Justin Sellers on May 14 when Jerry Hairston was injured.

To be fair, De Jesus wasn't even available until May 7 because of an oblique strain suffered in Spring Training. And when Hairston returns from his hamstring injury later this week, you can probably guess who goes back to Albuquerque.

It took Mark Ellis' frightening Friday night injury, which required emergency surgery to save his left leg, for De Jesus to even get promoted. With one career RBI coming into the game, De Jesus came to bat in the ninth inning with two out against Arizona closer J.J. Putz, who had issued only one walk this year before Herrera drew one after working back from a 1-2 count to walk and Bobby Abreu followed with another free pass.

Andre Ethier, who increased his league-leading RBI total to 40 with a seventh-inning single, struck out to leave it up to De Jesus, who had capped that seventh-inning rally with a sacrifice fly. He jumped on Putz's first pitch, lining it over the head of center fielder Chris Young.

"He walked two guys, he gets the lead off guy, then walks two guys," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said of Putz, who has three blown saves. "We get through Ethier and he totally misses his spot by a large margin to De Jesus. They're too good of a team to do that to."

The double for De Jesus was the highlight of a career derailed in 2009 when the second-round Draft pick broke his lower leg in a Spring Training "B" game plate collision. His game hasn't been the same, nor has he been viewed the same by the organization, although manager Don Mattingly has always insisted De Jesus had a big league swing. Nonetheless, it took a remarkable wave of injuries just to get De Jesus to the Dodgers.

"I have to be honest, at the moment that I got passed over, I was disappointed," said De Jesus, son of the former Dodgers infielder of the same name. "But like I said in the spring, there are 29 other teams watching me. Right now, I'm with the Dodgers and I've waited my whole life for an opportunity like tonight.

"But when they signed other players and promoted other players past me, it's like, 'Hello. I'm still here.' But I try to be strong, be a good teammate, not worry about things I can't control. I hear a lot of excuses -- I'm not the same player, my range isn't the same, I don't run the same. But I've worked very hard and I feel 100 percent. I feel I'm running well."

De Jesus' hit was necessary for the Dodgers, even after erasing a five-run deficit in the seventh, because Lyle Overbay put the D-backs ahead again with an eighth-inning homer (his fourth hit) off Josh Lindblom.

With new owners Mark Walter, Todd Boehly and Stan Kasten watching, starter Aaron Harang couldn't get out of the fifth inning, the biggest blow a massive two-run homer by former Dodgers prospect Josh Bell, who was traded to Baltimore in 2009 with pitcher Steve Johnson for reliever George Sherrill. Arizona added a run in the third and two more in the fifth.

Down, 5-0, the Dodgers finally scored in the sixth inning with a bunt single by Gwynn, a single off Bell's glove at third base by Herrera, a Trevor Cahill wild pitch and a sacrifice fly by Ethier. Arizona got the run back in the bottom of the sixth on doubles by Overbay and former Dodgers catcher Henry Blanco.

With Cahill out of the game after allowing one run in six innings, the Dodgers got to the D-backs' bullpen for a five-run, five-hit seventh inning, the first seven batters reaching base safely.

After A.J. Ellis' second single of the game, reliever Brad Ziegler fielded Gordon's bunt and tried to get the lead runner at second, but threw it into center field. With runners on first and second, Sands doubled to score Ellis, move Gordon to third and chase Ziegler. Gwynn greeted Craig Breslow with a two-run single, his third hit of the game. Bell committed an error on Herrera's slow roller, Abreu singled home Gwynn and Ethier singled to load the bases.

"That's usually how they start -- giving outs away," Mattingly said of the error.

Gordon had two hits, returning to the lineup in the No. 8 spot of the batting order after a benching prompted by a 2-for-31 slump.

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