September 19, 2006


A Five-Star Classic: L.A. gets four straight home runs to erase 9-5 deficit in ninth, then wins it in the 10th on Garciaparra's two-run shot to retake West lead (Bill Shaikin, September 19, 2006, LA Times)

To call this an unlikely victory would be an understatement. The Padres bombed Jonathan Broxton and Takashi Saito for five runs in the eighth and ninth innings, and they took a 9-5 lead into the bottom of the ninth.

Jeff Kent and J.D. Drew started the inning with back-to-back home runs off Jon Adkins, and the Padres rushed Hoffman into the game.

Russell Martin hit Hoffman's first pitch for a home run. Marlon Anderson hit Hoffman's second pitch for a home run, raising both hands high above his head as he passed first base.

The Dodgers became the fourth team in major league history to hit four consecutive home runs, the first since the Minnesota Twins did it in 1964, against the Kansas City Athletics.

Hoffman rebounded to get three outs, and the Padres nicked Aaron Sele for a run in the 10th inning.

But Kenny Lofton walked to lead off the bottom of the 10th against Rudy Seanez, and Garciaparra followed with a home run, pumping his fist as he rounded the bases and disappearing into a mob of teammates at home plate.

"I was just trying to make sure I hit every bag and touched home plate," he said.

This wasn't quite Kirk Gibson hobbling to bat in the World Series, but it wasn't bad. Garciaparra probably wouldn't be playing if this were July against the Washington Nationals, but there he was, despite a strained quadriceps muscle that he said he could not feel amid the painkiller that is victory.

"I'm not feeling it right now," he said of his injury. "I'm sure I will in a few minutes."

The Padres entered play with a half-game lead in the NL West and a 13-4 record against the Dodgers this season.

'The Most Wonderful Game I Have Ever Seen' (LEE JENKINS, 9/19/06, NY Times)
If the Dodgers go on to win the division, and the Padres do not, they can trace their respective rise and fall to the bottom of the ninth inning Monday night, which will be captured for posterity on classic sports highlight shows.

With the comfort of a four-run lead, San Diego Manager Bruce Bochy called on middle reliever Jon Adkins to start the ninth instead of his renowned closer, Trevor Hoffman. The first batter Adkins faced, Jeff Kent, hit a home run. The next batter he faced, J.D. Drew, hit a home run on the first pitch.

Fans who had left in the top of the ninth inning came sprinting back to their seats. Hoffman started warming up for the second time. Bochy was taking no more chances.

Hoffman has 475 saves in his career, three short of the major league record, and this would surely be No. 476. The Dodgers rank second-to-last in the N.L. in home runs. Dodger Stadium is known as a pitcher's park. The bottom of the order was due up. Surely, the Dodgers had spent all their power reserves.

But Hoffman’s first pitch, to Russell Martin, was bashed for another home run. The lead was down to one. Not since 2004 had a team hit three home runs in a row.

As Marlon Anderson walked to home plate for the Dodgers, he reminded himself to relax, take some time, let the game slow down and come to him.

Then he ignored all his own advice. Anderson swung at another first pitch and hit another high drive, deep into the right-field bleachers. Four batters, four home runs. Three pitches, three home runs. None of them were even cheap. They were all blasted.

Charging around the bases, Anderson raised his arms above his head, as if the game were over. When he reached the bench, the Dodgers formed a joyous mosh pit around him, jumping and dancing in their dugout.

“That was absolutely the most wonderful game I have ever seen in my life,” Anderson said. “It is the best thing that’s ever happened to me on a baseball field.”

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 19, 2006 9:25 AM

All that wackiness, for two teams that will both end up in the postseason.

Posted by: Brad S at September 19, 2006 9:57 AM

The Marlins ain't dead yet. Keep hope alive!

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 19, 2006 10:25 AM

I heard the radio call on the Mike&Mike show this morning. The announcer started off like, well, he was calling a losing 9-5 game in the ninth inning. He got more excited with each homer. Finally he was screaming like he was calling Kirk Gibson's homer. It was like the montage in "Major League" where the announcer shakes off his alcoholism as the Indians keep winning.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at September 19, 2006 10:26 AM