Harang fans 13; Dodgers walk off in ninth
Righty sets club record with nine straight K's; Ethier's walk wins it
By Quinn Roberts / MLB.com | 4/14/2012 2:40 AM E
SD@LAD: Dodgers walk off on Ethier's walk
LOS ANGELES -- In a game full of ups and downs, it was the Dodgers who came out on top Friday night against the Padres.
Yet, it wasn't without a struggle after the bullpen couldn't secure a two-run lead going into the ninth inning.
Kenley Jansen surrendered a game-tying two-run home run to Chase Headley one out from victory, but four straight walks by the San Diego bullpen in the bottom half of the inning gave Los Angeles a 9-8 win in the series opener at Dodger Stadium.
Andrew Cashner got the first two outs in the ninth before walking the bases loaded and giving way to Joe Thatcher, who walked Andre Ethier to score Mark Ellis from third with the game-winning run.
"At the end of the day, it is a win," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "It doesn't matter how you get it. The music is playing and you walk out of here with a win.
"If it is a loss, it would be a little tough to swallow with two outs in the ninth, but it wasn't. You'd rather have a clean game, but it is a win and you start over tomorrow."
The Dodgers won their fourth consecutive game and remained undefeated at home, still owning the best record in the Majors at 7-1.
The blown save for Jansen, who got the win to improve to 2-0, prevented Dodgers starter Aaron Harang from picking up the victory after thrilling the Dodger Stadium crowd with 13 strikeouts.
Harang got off to a dominant start against his former team after giving up a leadoff single to Cameron Maybin, striking out nine straight batters to set a new team record.
After the game, the ball he recorded that ninth strikeout with sat in his locker.
"It is an honor, knowing the history of this organization and all the great pitchers the team has had. It is great to accomplish to get such a feat," Harang said.
The Dodgers' record was previously held by Johnny Podres, who struck out eight straight on July 2, 1962, against the Phillies. The Major League record is held by the Mets' Tom Seaver, who struck out 10 straight hitters on April 22, 1970, against the Padres.
Finding success with his two- and four-seam fastball, Harang also mixed an occasional curveball and slider to keep San Diego off balance.
"It didn't really hit me until the crowd got into it and started cheering. I didn't realize it or figure out what was going on until then," Harang said. "It was a pretty neat experience."
The streak was broken up on a home run by Will Venable to left field leading off the fourth inning.
Giving up two more runs in the inning, the righty surrendered an RBI double to Yonder Alonso, who later scored on a fielder's choice.
Harang finished the night having allowed four runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings. He walked one and tied a career high with the 13 punchouts.
"His fastball was crisper, he had a good slider, a good curveball," Padres manager Bud Black said. "The fastball was located well at the top of the strike zone. He pitched very well."
The effort was a far cry from Harang's last performance on Sunday against the Padres, in which he went just 4 1/3 innings and gave up four runs on seven hits in a loss.
"He was definitely most effective tonight with his fastball command," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "He was using both sides of the plate, mostly away to the lefties and just got ahead in the count the whole game."
Dodgers pitchers tied a franchise record with 18 combined strikeouts, accomplishing the feat for the sixth time, and first since June 4, 1990, against Atlanta.
After the Padres touched up Harang for three runs in the fourth, the Dodgers answered right back, scoring four runs in the bottom half of the frame off Padres starter Clayton Richard. Justin Sellers and A.J. Ellis belted back-to-back doubles, before an RBI single by Tony Gwynn scored Ellis. Matt Kemp then hammered a first-pitch fastball to right field for his third home run, giving the Dodgers a commanding 8-3 lead.
However, the Padres got three of those runs back in the seventh to cut the Dodgers' lead to 8-6 and set the stage for Headley's tying blast.
The Dodgers opened the scoring with four runs in the third. A walk to Sellers and an error by shortstop Jason Bartlett off the bat of A.J. Ellis put runners on first and second with none out. A two-run single by Mark Ellis and another from Ethier put the Dodgers ahead 4-0.
"A.J. had some great at-bats. Justin also had three tremendous at-bats," Mattingly said. "Two walks, hits a double, and gets on twice. Mark Ellis also had a huge hit for us up the middle."