video thumbnail

Gordon's single ties it up in the ninth inning

LOS ANGELES -- Josh Beckett went nearly 11 months between Major League starts because of myriad injuries.

The Dodgers right-hander had to wait another couple of hours Wednesday night after he completed his four-inning 2014 debut before the Tigers' Victor Martinez finally decided a four-hour, 16-minute affair with a homer off Kenley Jansen leading off the 10th for a 7-6 Detroit victory at Dodger Stadium.

"I've got some things to work on," said Beckett, who allowed four earned runs in his 85-pitch outing, his first start since May 13 against Washington. "The guys have shown a lot of character, with one walk-off win last night and a great comeback tonight."

The Dodgers scored three in the bottom of the ninth off Tigers closer Joe Nathan to send the two-game Interleague series into its second 10th inning. Adrian Gonzalez started the rally with a homer, and Dee Gordon capped it with a two-out game-tying single.

But Martinez, who had extended Tuesday's game with a ninth-inning RBI single off Jansen before the Dodgers rallied to win that one in the 10th, 3-2, struck again with career homer No. 159.

"He's just a really good hitter," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Today, it looked like they [Jansen and catcher Drew Butera] were trying to go in under his hands, and just didn't get it there."

Mattingly did not sound concerned about his closer giving up a lead and a tie on consecutive nights against the heart of the Tigers' powerful lineup, citing Yankees great Mariano Rivera as an example.

"When guys struggle, it's usually two in a row," Mattingly said. "I've seen Mo do it many times. He [Jansen] is healthy -- I'm not worried."

As for Beckett, the manager said: "Josh was kind of back and forth, to me. He'd get in a rhythm, keep the ball down, and all of a sudden, he'd get the ball up. So it was kind of good and bad with him."

Beckett's biggest nemesis was Tigers rookie third baseman Nick Castellanos, who connected on a three-run homer in the third inning to stake Detroit to a 5-3 lead. It was the first home run of his career.

"When I struck out in the first inning, it was all fastballs," Castellanos said, "and I didn't have to many good swings. After that, I was looking dead-red."

Beckett got a squeeze bunt down for a run in the second inning, and an ankle -- injured Friday in a Minor League game -- didn't stop him from beating speedy hitter Rajai Davis to first base while covering it in the top of the frame.

His pitching, as Mattingly said, was up and down.

"I felt good," Beckett said, when asked about his arm strength. "It was fun to just have things to work on. I have some things to adjust."

Since he last worked against the Nationals in May, Beckett went on the DL because of a left groin-muscle strain, then underwent July surgery to remove a rib and alleviate a nerve problem. In the spring, Beckett slammed his right thumb in a door, then tweaked an ankle in the rehab start for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga.

He said his first inning was marked by high anxiety after the long wait to pitch, but "after the first inning, it was just a baseball game."

Carl Crawford stole home in the first inning as part of a double steal with Hanley Ramirez, and Yasiel Puig (left-thumb injury) returned to action for the first time since Saturday, pinch-hitting and striking out against Nathan in the ninth with the bases loaded.

Chances seem good that Puig, who was not cleared to play in the field Wednesday by the medical staff, might be allowed to return to the lineup Friday at Arizona with continued progress. Puig's status has been upgraded from available to pinch-run Sunday to available in an emergency Tuesday to available to pinch-hit Wednesday. He took batting practice on the field with his teammates before the game wearing a protective splint.

"With a day off tomorrow, hopefully we get to full strength," Mattingly said.

MLB.com Comments