Paul Byrd ... how about a 1st-inning do-over?
Paul Byrd pitched seven shutout innings AFTER allowing Los Angeles' first four batters to hit safely and score. The Indians' still-sputtering offense couldn't catch up and so Cleveland concluded its trip west with a 4-3 loss Sunday, going 2-4 in a pair of three-game series with the Colorado Rockies and the Dodgers. Now it is back home for more interleague play against San Francisco and Cincinnati.
Cleveland clawed back to within 4-3 and looked like it could tie the score with two outs and Jhonny Peralta on first base in the fifth when David Dellucci sent a drive down the right-field line. Only a perfect defensive play by the Dodgers kept Peralta from scoring.
Right fielder Andre Ethier made a sliding stop of the ball in the corner, threw to second baseman Luis Maza, whose relay throw to Martin nailed Peralta.
Afterwards, manager Eric Wedge told reporters that third-base coach Joel Skinner was correct in trying to wave home the slow-running Peralta.
"It was the right thing to do," Wedge said. "It he doesn't, they'll just walk (the next batter) Kelly Shoppach with the pitcher coming up next. So Joel has to be aggressive right there. Ethier cutting the ball off was the key, no doubt about it. If the ball gets by him, Jhonny's going to score."
Perhaps Byrd (3-8, 5.21 ERA) should have thrown about 20 more pitches in the bullpen before starting the game. But his first 14 pitches were disastrous.
Juan Pierre led off the bottom of the first with a single on a 1-2 pitch and went to third on a ground-rule double by Matt Kemp on the first pitch he saw. James Loney doubled both home with another double, also on the first pitch. Russell Martin fouled off three straight 2-2 pitches, then hit a belt-high fastball over the left-field fence for his seventh homer and 4-0 Dodgers lead.
"I just have to be positive and look at the fact that I came back and made some good pitches, but I'm still frustrated," Byrd told reporters. "It's not real fun to turn around after facing four hitters and seeing someone (Edward Mujica) warming up in your bullpen with the score 4-0. That's a pretty miserable feeling."
The Indians scored all their runs in one inning, too, the third against Chad Billingsley. Grady Sizemore (.266) singled and went to third on a single by Jamey Carroll (.281), who went 2-for-5. Shoppach scored on a grounder by Shin-Soo Choo (.275) that forced Carroll at second.
After Peralta walked, Ryan Garko (.255) lined a single to left-center, scoring Carroll. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch that made the count on Casey Blake 3-0. Blake then fouled off four straight pitches before grounding to short, scoring Peralta to make it 4-3.
Peralta (.243) went 2-for-3 with a walk. He hit .538 (7-for-13) with four RBI in the three games at Dodger Stadium.