“Fourth Out Rule” Helps Dodgers Take Arizona Series
With their pitching staff a shambles, the Dodgers received helped from an unlikely source – the major league rulebook – Sunday to win the third game of their weekend series with Arizona in Phoenix. In the process, they learned of an obscure ruling called the “Fourth Out Rule”.
With Andre Ethier on third and Juan Pierre at second and one out in the second inning, Wolf lined out to pitcher Dan Haren, who immediately threw to second to double off Pierre. End of inning? Not quite. Before Arizona second baseman Felipe Lopez tagged Pierre for the third out, Ethier crossed the plate. According to this seldom-used rule, to prevent Ethier’s run from counting, the Diamondbacks had to make a play at third base for the fourth out before leaving the field because Ethier had not tagged up. They did not, and the Dodgers scored their first run en route to a 3-1 triumph. Haren dropped to 0-2 despite a 2.08 ERA. Arizona won the series opener, 9-4, and the Dodgers on Saturday, 11-2.
The Dodgers’ gift run failed to overshadow a magnificent two-hit pitching performance by Wolf, who throttled the Diamondbacks for seven innings. The venerable left hander, in the top performance by a Dodger hurler this season, yielded one run on two hits and at one point retired 16 consecutive batters. He struck out five and walked two in lowering his ERA to 3.65. Hong-Chih Kuo and Jonathan Broxton each pitched a shutout inning of relief to secure the victory, Broxton earning his third save.
Besides evening his record at 1-1, Wolf gave the Dodger pitching staff a tremendous lift. Prior to his start, no Dodger had gone more than 5 2/3 innings and that pitcher, Hiroshi Kuroda, missed his start against Arizona with a pulled stomach muscle and was placed on the 15-day disabled lift. When fifth-starter James McDonald was routed Friday in the third inning of the series opener and Eric Stults, Kuroda’s replacement, could go only 5 1/3 innings Saturday, the Dodger bullpen was strained to the max.
“The bullpen is getting more work than it needs to get,” Manager Joe Torre admitted on the Dodger website before Sunday’s game. “We have some guys available but they’re all one inning guys. We’re looking for our starter to go deep.” Wolf followed his manager’s orders perfectly!
Dodger Chatter: James Loney (.375) plated the Dodgers’ second run Sunday on an RBI single, and Matt Kemp (.370) added an insurance run in the ninth with an RBI double. Juan Pierre singled in three trips to the plate in his first start of the season. The Dodger heroes on Saturday included Orlando Hudson (homer, double, 3 RBI), Casey Blake (single and double) and Russell Martin and Ethier, who each doubled and drove in two runs. Loney and Kemp lead the team’s regulars in hitting followed by Manny Ramirez at .286. Other averages include Ethier (.208), Rafael Furcal (.231) Hudson (.250) and Martin (.167). The Dodgers return home tomorrow for their home opener against the Giants. Chad Billingsley (1-0, 3.00) is expected to take the mound for the Dodgers against Randy Johnson (0-1, 7.20). After a day off Tuesday, the teams continue their series Wednesday and Thursday. Clayton Kershaw (0-0, 1.80) vs. Matt Cain (1-0, 0.86) and Stults (1-0, 1.69) vs. Barry Zito (0-1, 9.00) are the scheduled match ups.
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