Newcomer Cruz helps Dodgers rally past Reds

Newcomer Cruz helps Dodgers rally past Reds

Newcomer Cruz helps Dodgers rally past Reds
LOS ANGELES -- On the rare occasions lately when good things happen to the Dodgers, the miracles come from unexpected sources. In a 3-1 comeback win over the Reds on Tuesday night, the stars were all players given up for in various ways.

Mexican League expatriate Luis Cruz was the biggest hero, doubling home the tiebreaking run in the seventh inning and stealing home for an insurance run, all in a rally started with a single by James Loney, who for a second season has revived just when it seemed his career was on life support.

Elian Herrera, buried and overlooked in the Dodgers' Minor League system for nine years, singled as a pinch-hitter and scored their first run, driven in with a single from Bobby Abreu, who was released in April by the Angels.

Then there's double Tommy John patient Chris Capuano, who went six innings on equal terms with Reds starter Johnny Cueto.

On a day when they lost reliever Todd Coffey for the season to elbow surgery, with Matt Kemp and Mark Ellis and Javy Guerra rehabbing at Class A Rancho Cucamonga and with Andre Ethier and Juan Uribe nursing injuries on the bench, the Dodgers beat Cueto and pulled to within a half-game of the first-place Giants in the National League West.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh inning and the score tied at 1, Loney singled. Cruz, who started at third base for Uribe, doubled to left-center for his first Dodgers hit. Loney scored from first, even though the relay throw from shortstop Zack Cozart beat him to the plate.

Catcher Ryan Hanigan tripped up Loney with his left foot but never tagged him with the glove, and as Loney landed his left foot scraped home plate. He was called safe by plate umpire Jeff Nelson with Cruz taking third on the throw.

"I was just trying to get my foot in any way I could," he said.

Loney has four hits in his past 10 at-bats, including a double in his last at-bat Sunday that prompted him to tell manager Don Mattingly he felt good again after another horrible first half.

"I told him to put me in there, I'll be great," Loney said. "It's not necessarily how I'm hitting, but the approach. After the last game against the Mets, I just felt in control, reading balls better. I just felt comfortable. It will be a great three months and into the postseason."

Mattingly was just glad Loney made it.

"When he came around third, I thought he had it easy -- then the parachute came out and from that point things were going slow," Mattingly said. "But he's been pretty good. His word's been good. He told me to give him two days."

With Tony Gwynn up next, Mattingly put on the first-pitch squeeze. Cruz was so pumped up he broke from third base too soon and tipped off Cueto. But the pitcher got so pumped up he overthrew his catcher and Cruz was credited with the first Dodgers steal of home since Dee Gordon last year.

"I think I broke a little early, they told me I did," Cruz said. "I was kind of excited just to get the hit. I just went early and he was looking at me and he threw the ball up and, oh, thank you."

The comeback wouldn't have been possible if not for another quality start from Capuano, who like Cueto was overlooked for an All-Star berth. He allowed one run in a six-inning no-decision, lowering his home ERA to 1.83 and his overall ERA to 2.62.

Capuano kept to his diplomatic talking points when asked about being left off the All-Star team.

"Tony [La Russa, NL manager] had a tough decision and there's no one I would take off his staff and say I should be there instead of him," Capuano said. "I don't feel I was wronged at all."

As has happened in many of his starts, he had to overcome a shaky patch, this time in the fourth and fifth innings when a hole near the rubber finally left him asking the grounds crew for repairs. He pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth and limited the damage in the fifth to an RBI double by Brandon Phillips by striking out Jay Bruce.

"I'm aware they've got Cueto on the other side pretty effortlessly cruising and I know one pitch could be the difference," Capuano said. "I'm happy I made good pitches there."

"We had some opportunities earlier in the game and Capuano squashed that," Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said. "He threw a good game tonight, too. You knew it would be a good game with both of those guys pitching."

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