Jeff Smith 2 p.m., Dec. 18
Everth Cabrera is a perfect thief, having stolen 16 of 16 bases this season, but the heist he pulled off Saturday was by far the most brazen theft in his career. Cabrera stole home and forced a throwing error by Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen which allowed Will Venable to score the go-ahead run behind Cabrera, and the San Diego Padres nabbed a 7-6 victory from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The game went back and forth from the start. The Padres scored in the first inning, when with one out Logan Forsythe singled, Chase Headley reached on an error with Forsythe taking third, and then Carlos Quentin ground out to third base, driving in Forsythe. The Padres led 1-0.
The Dodgers got even in the bottom of the first inning. With one out, Mark Ellis singled and then Matt Kemp also singled, putting Mark Ellis at third base. Andre Ethier then singled to left field, scoring Mark Ellis and the score was tied 1-1 after an inning.
In the bottom of the third inning, in which Padres starter Edinson Volquez threw a total of 35 pitches, Bobby Abreu walked to open the inning followed by singles from Mark Ellis and Matt Kemp to load the bases. Andre Ethier then singled to right to drive in Abreu, followed by a Volquez walk to Juan Rivera which brought home Mark Ellis.
Volquez then retired Adam Kennedy on a fly ball, A.J. Ellis struck out, and Luis Cruz flied out to right and the bases were left loaded. The damaged was minimized but the Dodgers led the Padres 3-1 after three innings.
The Padres got closer in the top of the fourth inning, when Carlos Quentin drove a Aaron Harang fastball over the center field fence. The Dodgers lead was cut to 3-2.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Dodgers got the run back. With one out, Juan Rivera singled to right field, then stole second base and took third on a throwing error by Yasmani Grandal. Adam Kennedy then doubled scoring Rivera and the Dodgers took a 4-2 lead.
In the top of the sixth, Logan Forsythe opened the inning with a walk and then Chase Headley took an Aaron Harang fastball over the right field wall to tie the game 4-4. It was Headley's 9th home run of the season.
The tie didn't last long. Brad Brach replaced Volquez on the mound, and with two outs, Matt Kemp hit an infield single and Andre Ethier homered to right field and the Dodgers went back on top, 6-4.
In the top of the eight inning, the Padres got a little closer. Ronald Belisario relieved Aaron Harang and was greeted by Alexi Amarista with a double. Amarista went to third base on a Logan Forsythe ground out, and after Chase Headley went down on strikes, Carlos Quentin singled to center and Amarista scored to bring the Padres within a run, 6-5.
In the top of the ninth inning, the Dodgers brought in their closer, Kenley Jansen. Yonder Alonso led off the inning with a single to left field, and Everth Cabrera pinch-ran for Alonso. Will Venable then singled to left, sending the speedy Cabrera to third base. Cameron Maybin struck out, and then Mark Kotsay pinch-hit in the pitcher's spot.
During Kotsay's at-bat, Venable stole second base, which turned out to be key in the turn of events. Kotsay then popped out, and with two outs, Cabrera stood on third base and Venable on second as Alexi Amarista stepped to the plate.
With two strikes on Amarista, Cabrera broke for the plate, catching Jansen off-guard. Jansen fired the ball to the plate in an erratic hurry, the ball getting by Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis while Cabrera scored. The ball sailed to the backstop and as A.J. Ellis scrambled to retrieve it, Venable came home and was safe when a rattled Jansen was late to cover the plate.
The Padres then led 7-6, and sent in closer Huston Street in the bottom of the ninth inning. Street then got the Dodgers in order and the Padres hung on for an improbable win.
Cabrera didn't steal home while Jansen was in his wind up, he took off before Jansen ever got set. According to Bob Scanlan, radio color commentator for the Padres, Cabrera had noticed that Jansen had a habit of taking a few seconds to stare at the ground and kick a the dirt a couple of times before coming to his set.
Cabrera notified third base coach Glenn Hoffman that he had a plan to steal home, but Hoffman figured that Cabrera was looking to take off during the pitcher's delivery as most attempts to steal home occur, so Hoffman started to time Jansen's delivery in order to aid Cabrera. But Cabrera had a different approach in mind.
Cabrera took off and no one expected it when it happened, so by the time Jansen realized what was going on, his throw to the plate was hurried and made off-balance, and catcher A.J. Ellis was trying to block home plate from Cabrera and the ball sailed just out of his reach.
As gutsy and smart as Cabrera's move was, Venable was also smart and had his head right in the game. His steal of second base made possible the taking of third base on Cabrera's steal of home, and then Venable noticed that when A.J. Ellis went back to retrieve the ball, a stunned Jansen wasn't covering the plate, so Venable took off.
Both Cabrera and Venable deserve to share the game ball.
On the injury front, pitcher Joe Wieland will consult with the Padres and their medical staff as to whether he should consider surgery on his ailing elbow on Monday. The Padres will take no chances with Wieland who looks to have a promising future once that injury is taken care of. Also of note, pitcher Micah Owings also is considering surgery, and is expected to reach a decision very soon. Owings was attempting to add a position such as first base or outfield to his resume in the minors while rehabbing his forearm before this latest setback.
Today's match-up (in progress), was supposed to see Jason Marquis for the Padres go up against Chad Billingsley of the Dodgers, except that Billingsley is suddenly injured (stay tuned for how Los Angeles media treats this one, apparently Billingsley said nothing to Dodgers coaches and trainers until right before game time). Chris Capuano is taking the place of Billingsley. You're either already tuned in to Fox Sports San Diego watching, or else you're listening to XX 1090 AM, or perhaps you have Time Warner and no radio, in which case perhaps you could be taking in a Dwarf Bullfighting match. No worries, you can always read details of the complete sordid mess of the rubber match of this Padres - Dodgers series right here in the Reader, we have you covered.
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