LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers are dealing with all sorts of chaos at the back of their pitching rotation, but unless you have been playing close attention, you probably missed it.
Thanks to a mediocre division and a favorable schedule heading into the All-Star break, the Dodgers have a chance to build a sizeable division lead by next week. They survived a grinding, slow-paced game against the hapless Philadelphia Phillies for a 10-7 win Monday night at Dodger Stadium. The game took four hours and 13 minutes.
How it happened: Playing against the Phillies for the first time, Jimmy Rollins showed some of the form that made him a Phillies legend, but that had been absent in his time with the Dodgers. Rollins singled and scored the go-ahead run in the sixth inning. Then, when the Dodgers' pitching blew that lead, he came up with a two-run single in the seventh to give them a 9-7 advantage. That lead held up.
The Dodgers knew they were going to need a start's worth of innings from left-hander Eric Surkamp, who came up from Triple-A Oklahoma City before the game, but they elected to start reliever Yimi Garcia and use Surkamp in relief. They figured they would force the Phillies to field a largely left-handed lineup and then use their pinch hitters early. Most teams hadn't worked so hard to beat the Phillies judging by their 28-56 record coming in. The reasoning may have been sound, if a bit unorthodox, but it didn't exactly work. Garcia gave up a two-run home run to switch hitter Freddy Galvis and Surkamp surrendered a three-run shot to Ryan Howard, who typically struggles against lefties. But the Dodgers had comfortable at-bats against journeyman Sean O'Sullivan all evening. Going into the sixth inning, they had seven hits, all for extra bases. The big blow was Yasmani Grandal's three-run home run in the fifth inning to tie it at 6-6. Howie Kendrick, who played with O'Sullivan in Anaheim, had four hits, including a double and first-inning triple that skipped off Ben Revere's glove.
What it means: The San Francisco Giants have lost seven in a row, sinking back to .500, and the rest of the NL West is below-average, giving the Dodgers all the time they need to sort out the issues at the back of their rotation. They now have a five-game division lead.
Notable: Joc Pederson was selected to the All-Star game in his rookie season, an impressive feat, but he's not exactly carrying much momentum heading into that game. Pederson did snap out of an 0-for-16 skid with an RBI double in the seventh. ... Before the game, Rollins met with a large media contingent, much of it from Philadelphia, and said he expects to have a big second half. Rollins is batting .212. ... One of the Dodgers who scored ahead of Grandal's blast was Adrian Gonzalez, who had reached base on catcher's interference. Gonzalez's bat hit Carlos Ruiz's mitt. ... Rollins also said he has exchanged text messages with Phillies ace Cole Hamels and said, “That would be nice,” when someone asked him how the lefty would fit in the Dodgers' rotation.
Up next: The teams play the second game of a four-game series Tuesday night at 7:10 PT. Pitching for the Phillies is longtime Dodger Chad Billingsley (0-2, 7.71 ERA) in his fifth start back after missing nearly two years with arm injuries. He'll be opposed by Dodgers lefty Brett Anderson (5-4, 3.00 ERA).