Rookies Help Dodgers Snap Three-Game Losing Streak With 5-4 Win In Houston

The grand slam by Jerry Sands was the Dodgers' first extra-base hit with the bases loaded this season.

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Rookies Lift Dodgers Over Astros, 5-4

A grand slam by rookie Jerry Sands, a scintillating MLB debut in a scoreless eighth inning by Rubby De La Rosa, and a scoreless ninth by rookie Javy Guerra led the Dodgers to a 5-4 win Tuesday night over the Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The win snapped a three-game losing streak by the Dodgers, and provided a glimpse of hope in an otherwise dreary season to date for the Dodgers. Chad Billingsley pitched six innings for the victory, his first since April 22, but the story of the night was the performance of the three rookies.

Jerry Sands has been on fire of late. He hit his first major league home run on Saturday, added a four-hit game on Sunday, and walked three times on Monday. He punctuated his hot streak with a grand slam off J.A. Happ in the third inning tonight, a ball absolutely crushed to left center. After a relatively slow start, Sands is now hitting .239/.343/.413 on the season in 109 plate appearances.

The slam by Sands gave the Dodgers a 5-0 lead, a lead that was trimmed to 5-4 by the sixth inning. After Mike MacDougal pitched a scoreless frame in the seventh, the stage was set for the major league debut of De La Rosa. The 22-year old was thrown into a pressure spot, up by one in the eighth inning, facing the 3-4-5 hitters in the Houston lineup. He shut them all down, with two strikeouts and a shattered bat grounder, a 13-pitch inning to retire the side.

De La Rosa, the Dodgers' 2010 minor league pitcher of the year, has been a starter all season, and would have pitched the ninth inning as well tonight had his spot not come up in the top of the ninth inning. The Dodgers threatened, loading the bases with two outs, but couldn't tack on an insurance run.

Enter Javy Guerra, making just his fifth major league appearance, to pitch the ninth inning. Guerra allowed a shot to Bill Hall with one out down the left field line that had home run distance, but was foul by a few feet. Strike two. Guerra needed just eight pitches, all strikes, to retire the side and pick up the save. Guerra was the sixth different Dodger to get a save in the last 23 days.

The Dodgers retired the final 12 Houston batters in the game. Casey Blake played six innings for Triple A Albuquerque in his second rehab game, going 1-for-2 with a double and two walks. He is expected back at some point during the upcoming homestand, which begins Friday at Dodger Stadium.

The grand slam by Sands was the first extra-base hit with the bases loaded by the Dodgers this season. Jay Gibbons also homered for the Dodgers, his first of the season, a solo shot in the second inning. These two teams play a rubber game Wednesday morning, an 11:05 a.m. PDT start, with Ted Lilly facing Aneury Rodriguez.

For more news and information on the Dodgers, or on tonight's game, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.

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Dodgers Call Up Top Pitching Prospect Rubby De La Rosa

The ninth-inning loss Monday night was enough for the Dodgers to press the panic button Tuesday, as the team has purchased the contract of its top pitching prospect, Rubby De La Rosa from Double A Chattanooga. The 22-year old was the Dodgers organizational pitcher of the year in 2010. To make room for the fireballing De La Rosa, the Dodgers designated Lance Cormier for assignment.

De La Rosa is the club's top starting prospect, and has been tabbed in recent weeks by general manager Ned Colletti as the "number six" starter, meaning if any one of the Dodgers' starting rotation goes down De La Rosa would have gotten the call. However, the Dodgers' immediate need is in the bullpen, and that's where De La Rosa will begin his big league career. Per DodgerTalk co-host Joe Block:

[Don] Mattingly said "long-term we view (De La Rosa) as a starter. You want to try to get him clean innings and break him in like anybody else."

De La Rosa last pitched on Saturday for Chattanooga. He only pitched two innings in his start, but that was part of a planned rest to limit his innings, something the Dodgers have done every so often in recent years for their top starting pitching prospects. In 40 innings at Double A this season, De La Rosa was 2-2 with a 2.92 ERA, 19 walks, and 52 strikeouts.

Cormier, signed to a minor league contract this winter that paid him a major league salary of $800,000, was used by the Dodgers almost exclusively in low-leverage situations as a mop-up man this season. Cormier struggled mightily, allowing 27 baserunners in 13 2/3 innings and putting up a 9.88 ERA. The Dodgers' bullpen depth came in question last Wednesday when Cormier was the last man available to pitch the ninth inning of a tie game with the Giants. He promptly gave up a three-run home run to Cody Ross to negate the Dodgers' unlikely comeback in that game.

Relief pitchers Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Vicente Padilla, and Blake Hawksworth are all currently on the disabled list for the Dodgers. Five different players have recorded saves this season. Hawksworth is due back on Friday when the Dodgers open up a homestand with Florida.

Tonight's 5:05 p.m. PDT game will be televised by KCAL. For more news and information on the Dodgers, or on tonight's game, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.

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Dodgers Vs. Astros Starting Lineups: Andre Ethier, Rod Barajas Sit Again

The Dodgers look to snap a three-game losing streak Tuesday night as they face the Astros in the second game of a three-game set at Minute Main Park in Houston. Chad BiIlingsley faces J.A. Happ in tonight's contest. The Dodgers' lineup is without Andre Ethier and Rod Barajas for the second straight game.

Ethier didn't start Monday night, but delivered a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh inning in a game eventually won by Houston in the ninth inning. Jerry Sands, who has started 22 games in left field and two games at first base this season, gets his first career start in right field tonight, with Jay Gibbons moving to left, the opposite defensive alignment of Monday. Sands did finish last night's game in right field. Here are tonight's starting lineups:

Dodgers (21-28)

Furcal SS
Carroll 2B
Loney 1B
Kemp CF
Sands RF
Navarro C
Gibbons LF
Miles 3B
Billingsley P

Astros (18-30)

Bourn CF
Barmes SS
Pence RF
Lee LF
Wallace 1B
Johnson 3B
Hall 2B
Quintero C
Happ P

Tonight's 5:05 p.m. PDT game will be televised by KCAL. For more news and information on the Dodgers, or on tonight's game, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.

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Dodgers Vs. Astros: L.A. Looks To Snap Three-Game Skid

The Dodgers are in desperate need of a win, and send Chad Billingsley to the mound Tuesday night against the Astros at Minute Maid Park looking to snap a three-game losing streak. The Dodgers held a 3-1 lead with two outs in the ninth inning on Monday night, but lost 4-3, the eighth loss in the last 10 games for the Dodgers. J.A. Happ gets the start for Houston.

Billingsley is 2-4 this season with a 3.47 ERA. Plagued by poor run support, Billingsley hasn't won since April 22, and is 0-3 despite a 2.91 ERA. The Dodgers have scored three total runs in his last four starts.

Rookie outfielder Jerry Sands is on a hot streak for the Dodgers. He hit his first major league home run on Saturday, and followed that up with a 4-for-4 game on Sunday and three walks Monday night. He has reached base in nine of his last 10 plate appearances, and after a slow start is now hitting .239/.346/.386 with 10 doubles and a home run in 105 PA.

Happ, who came to the Astros last July from the Phillies in the Roy Oswalt trade, is 3-5 this year with a 5.30 ERA. In 12 career starts at Minute Maid Park, Happ is 6-3 with a 3.20 ERA. Bill Hall, who was pursued briefly by the Dodgers in the offseason for the right-handed half of a stopgap in left field, had four hits, including two doubles, and a stolen base Monday night.

Tonight's 5:05 p.m. PDT game will be televised by KCAL. For more news and information on the Dodgers, or on tonight's game, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.

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