Henry Rodriguez blew a 3-1 ninth-inning lead and the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied to force extra innings Saturday night at Dodgers Stadium.
Rodriguez started the bottom of the ninth and allowed a single to Mark Ellis, who advanced to second on a wild pitch; a single to James Loney; and a ground-rule double to Juan Uribe before striking out A.J. Ellis and inducing Adam Kennedy to ground into a force play to first that resulted in Loney being cut down at the plate. With a two-strike count on Dee Gordon, Rodriguez uncorked a wild pitch that tied the game.
After Gordon reached on a dropped third strike, Tom Gorzelanny entered and induced Tony Gwynn Junior to line out to Adam LaRoche at first base.
The remarkable inning overshadowed the major league debut of Bryce Harper, who went 1-for-3 with a double and drove in a run with a ninth-inning sacrifice fly.
With the score tied at 1-1, Adam LaRoche led off the inning with an opposite-field single to left-center field. After Rick Ankiel reached on a fielder's choice, Danny Espinosa lined a single to left-center to put runners at the corners with one out before Harper drove in Ankiel. Wilson Ramos provided some insurance with an RBI single to right field that scored Espinosa.
Harper's heroics, in turn, overshadowed a brilliant pitcher's duel between Stephen Strasburg (7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 9 Ks) and Chad Billingsley (7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks). Neither team scored until the 7th inning, when LaRoche put Washington up 1-0 with a solo shot into the right field seats.
The Dodgers answered in the bottom of the seventh when Jerry Hairston, Jr. was hit by a pitch and James Loney reached on an error by Espinosa. After Juan Uribe struck out swinging, Hairston scored on A.J. Ellis' single to left, knocking the ball out of Ramos' hands in a home plate collision to deny Harper an outfield assist.
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