Greinke, Gonzalez lead Dodgers over tricky Rays
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The way things have been going for the surging Los Angeles Dodgers over the past seven weeks, they can afford to laugh at themselves once in a while.
The NL West leaders — Juan Uribe, specifically — were victimized by a rare hidden ball trick Saturday during a 5-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
And they had a little bit of fun at Uribe’s expense in the clubhouse after the game.
First baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who hit a two-run homer to support Zack Greinke’s strong pitching, came over to Uribe’s locker and posed with a base that had a shoe taped to it. Uribe offered a stern look, and took the prank in stride.
“It’s a good play. They did a good job,” Uribe said. “I made a mistake. Every day you see something different. I’ve never seen it before. I got surprised.”
Rays third baseman Evan Longoria tagged out the unsuspecting 13-year veteran when he lifted his foot off the bag while chatting with coach Tim Wallach in the fourth inning.
The rarely seen play occurred after A.J. Ellis hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly, with all three runners moving up as center fielder Wil Myers threw toward the plate.
First baseman James Loney wound up with the ball behind the mound. The former Dodger flipped it to shortstop Yunel Escobar, who then quickly tossed the ball to Longoria while no one seemed to be looking.
“It’s a play that I always have in the back of my mind through the course of a game,” Escobar said through a translator. “Guys were going everywhere, so it happened to be a good situation where I thought we might be able to tag Uribe out. The umpire was standing there and knew what was going on right away, and the only one that didn’t know what was going on was Uribe.”
“I’ve tried it four or five other times this year and never got anybody out in the big leagues. But in the minor leagues, I got four or five guys out,” Escobar said.
Longoria stood behind Uribe and waited for the right moment to trap him. Umpire Angel Hernandez was right on the play, watching the whole time, and made the out call.
“I know that Yuni is always looking to do it,” Longoria said. “Usually when a play like happens, the pitcher is right around the mound and you don’t have a whole lot of time before the umpires call time. I had just walked around behind Uribe, and Hernandez was still walking back from behind the plate to the mound.”
“I was just kind of waving my hand to see if Loney would see me, and he did. But he threw the ball to Yuni — which was the best part of the play, because it was indirect. Once I got the ball, I just kind of waited there. He barely took his foot off the base and I tagged him. It really was the one highlight of the day for us.”
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was just glad Uribe’s gaffe didn’t affect the outcome of the game. The way Greinke was pitching, there was little chance of that.
“It’s something that you can laugh about now,” Mattingly said. “But it’s like anything that happens in a game. It’s something you should learn from. You want to make sure that it doesn’t happen again in a big game.”
Greinke (10-3) scattered six hits through 6 1-3 innings, striking out seven and walking one. The 2009 AL Cy Young winner is 6-1 with a 2.49 ERA in his 10 home starts.
“Obviously it feels pretty good, the way we’re playing,” Mattingly said. “Our starting pitching gives us a chance to win every day.”
The Dodgers’ bullpen finished the job, lowering its ERA since the All-Star break to 1.89. Former Rays left-hander J.P. Howell retired both batters he faced in the seventh and rookie Chris Withrow pitched two scoreless innings.
Skip Schumaker added four hits for the NL West leaders, who clinched another series and are unbeaten in their last 15 series (11-0-4) since dropping two of three at Pittsburgh in mid-June.
Tampa Bay lost its fourth straight, matching their longest skid this year.
Roberto Hernandez (6-12) gave up five runs and eight hits in four innings.
Gonzalez ended a 16-game homer drought when he hit his 16th homer, a two-run shot, and later got his first stolen base of the season. Nick Punto had a two-run single in the third.
NOTES: Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig, batting .376 through his first 59 major league games, was intentionally walked his last two times up in front of Andre Ethier. … Tampa Bay has committed just seven errors in its last 44 games, including closer Fernando Rodney’s game-ending throwing miscue in the ninth inning Friday night. … Tampa Bay RHP Jamey Wright, who made 66 relief appearances for the Dodgers last year, has played more seasons in the majors (18) than any active player who hasn’t been to the postseason. The Rays are his 10th big league club.