The Los Angeles Dodgers halted a four game losing streak at home against the American League East leading New York Yankees and A.J. Burnett Saturday night. Burnett gave the Dodgers and early lead, and their bullpen shut down the Yankee bats for the 9-4 victory.
James Loney led the way for the Dodger offense, driving in a season-high four runs. RBI singles in the third and fourth innings with the bases loaded allowed Loney to put the Dodgers back on top after the Yankees got an early 3-0 lead.
“Not so many strikes today. I got some in the hole,” Loney said. “Guys are getting on base a lot and I’m just trying to produce at those times.”
In Friday’s game, Loney was hitless in four at bats and was tossed at the end of the game for arguing a strikeout. He now has a team-leading 51 RBIs on his way to his first-ever 100 RBI season. When asked about the prospect of driving in 100 RBIs or more, Loney said it would be great to help his team in that way.
“That would be special. I’ve never done that before,” Loney added.
The Dodgers were in the midst of a four-game home losing streak coming into Saturday night’s contest. They lost the opening game of the series 2-1, and will need a favorable result Sunday to take 2-3 like they did back in 2004.
The win Saturday was manager Joe Torre’s first win against his former team since leaving in 2007. He says playing the defending champions is a good way to measure his team’s readiness for a post-season run.
“It’s important because they’re the world champions and they’re dangerous,” Torre said. “Every time we face somebody we have to measure ourselves. It certainly doesn’t hurt your confidence when you go out and beat this team.”
The Yankees lead in the AL East shrank to just two games after the loss to the team they have beaten eight times in 11 World Series meetings. Starter A.J. Burnett’s struggles continued on the mound. He gave up six hits and six runs in little over three innings. In his past five starts, Burnett is 0-5 with an 11.35 ERA. Burnett told reporters after the game that he lost his control early, and just has to become mentally stronger to get out of his slump.
“My command got away from me in the third. I had it early. I had unbelievable stuff. I had velocity, I had movement and I had a good hook,” said Burnett. “What it comes down to right now is the fact that I have to relax a little bit and have some fun out there. But it’s hard to do right now.”
Yankee manager Joe Girardi says he will not consider benching Burnett, and will keep running him out there despite the slump.
“I’ve been saying all along that he is going to get out of this and he will,” he said. “Every great player has been through slumps. I think struggles with pitchers always start with command. Anyone who can command the baseball can have success.”
MLB sportsbooks have set the Yankees as the slight favorites in the rubber match between the two teams Sunday at -107. The Dodgers are the slight underdogs at -103, and the over/under for total runs scored by both teams is set at 7 1/2.