Revival on offense helps LA cut Wild Card deficit

Revival on offense helps LA cut Wild Card deficit

Revival on offense helps LA cut Wild Card deficit
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers' offense raked Friday night.

Hanley Ramirez made sure of that, popping into a local Home Depot and purchasing a gardener's rake, placing it in the bat rack and encouraging teammates to touch it en route to the batter's box.

That might have had nothing to do with the Dodgers' 8-5 comeback win over the Cardinals. But baseball superstition being what it is, the rake is expected to return Saturday after the Dodgers snapped a four-game losing streak and pulled back to within one game of the Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card berth with 17 to play.

The eight runs equaled the club's offensive production for the previous six games combined. Included was a two-run homer by Andre Ethier on a 3-0 pitch to get the Dodgers back into the game in the third inning, a crucial three-run homer by Luis Cruz (four RBIs) for the lead in the sixth and the second double of the game from Adrian Gonzalez that provided a pair of insurance runs in the seventh.

"This win is a relief," manager Don Mattingly said. "It's kind of like San Francisco last week. It's a two-game swing, with the guys we're chasing right across the way."

While losing seven of the previous eight, the Dodgers tried to rely on stingy pitching while coming up short with an underachieving offense. This game was the opposite, starting pitcher Chris Capuano allowing three home runs in the first three innings, the ones by Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday coming on 0-2 pitches.

But then bullpen picked up Capuano by allowing only a ninth-inning concession run in 4 2/3 innings and the offense went kind of nuts.

In his daily lineup roulette, Mattingly put Shane Victorino at leadoff, and he scored twice. There were so many contributors, the Dodgers were able to overcome Matt Kemp's 0-for-4.

"The positive thing out of tonight was the fact they got out to an early lead, had some momentum and we were down, 4-1," Victorino said. "Yet, we were able to come back and grind to battle back. Something we haven't been able to do, but tonight we were able to do it to show us, 'Hey, we are never out of a game with this capability and kind of offense we have.' The results haven't been there, but tonight they were."

Cruz's homer was the biggest of the blows and he knew it, flipping his bat high in the air as he left the plate and answering the crowd with a curtain call. His four RBIs were a career high.

"I had a curtain call once in the Mexican Winter League," Cruz said. "This feels a lot better. I've seen it so many times on TV. It was real good to do it one time."

Ethier led off the bottom of the sixth with a single. Two outs later, Ramirez was hit by a Trevor Rosenthal pitch. Edward Mujica relieved and Cruz lofted his first pitch into the left-field box seats.

"I was supposed to take a pitch," Cruz said. "I got three splitties from him last night. They've been pitching me fastballs in, but he threw me the splitty and left it there and I hit it."

"They know I'm going to throw the changeup. They just make an adjustment," Mujica said. "It's my best pitch, but I just leave it right in the middle. I mean, like, right in the middle."

That gave the Dodgers a 6-4 lead because Ethier had pulled the Dodgers back into the game with his two-run homer in the third after the Cardinals had taken a 4-1 lead.

Mattingly gave Ethier the green light on a 3-0 pitch from Joe Kelly and Ethier put it into the right-field pavilion for his 18th home run.

"He's dangerous, he swings the bat good 3-0," explained Mattingly. "He's aggressive and he lets it fly when he gets the green light."

The final result took the sting away from a disappointing start by Capuano, who has one win since July 21.

"That was probably one of my best pregame warmups of the year," he said. "My stuff felt great. Location felt great. Yadier put a really good short hook swing on that 0-2 pitch. I threw him two really slow off-speed pitches to get ahead 0-2 and try to sneak one by him upstairs. He just stayed short and hit one out. I think I started rushing a little more after that. I made a couple mistakes that got hit. It's always frustrating when you feel that good going into the game and have nothing to show for it.

"Every game here this last week, everyone was kind of waiting for a game like this. You kind of could feel it coming. Tonight it was nice. We started doing some things.  We had a really nice hit and run tonight, which we hadn't done in quite a while."

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