Dodgers make push to lock up NL West by acquiring Thome from White Sox, Garland from D’backs

By Beth Harris, AP
Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dodgers acquire Thome and Garland for playoff push

LOS ANGELES — As a kid growing up in the suburbs, Jon Garland always followed the Los Angeles Dodgers and someday hoped to pitch for them.

That time is now.

The right-hander was acquired in the late innings of the Dodgers’ 5-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night, forcing Garland into a “definitely weird” walk from the visitors’ clubhouse to the Dodgers’ side after the game.

“I didn’t want it so late,” he said, explaining his initial resistance. “This late in the season coming to a team that’s been going strong, they might feel they don’t need anybody. They’ve done all the work. I don’t want to feel like I’m sliding in easy. Hopefully they accept me well.”

Before the Garland deal was announced in the top of the eighth inning, the Dodgers said they had acquired slugging first baseman Jim Thome from the Chicago White Sox. Both trades were completed before the midnight EDT deadline required for postseason eligibility.

The D-backs rallied for their fifth consecutive victory on Rusty Ryal’s homer to lead off the 10th. Esmerling Vasquez (3-2) got the win with one strikeout in 1 1-3 innings of relief and Juan Gutierrez earned his second save.

James McDonald (4-4) took the loss, allowing two runs and two hits in one inning. He struck out one and walked two, including a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the 10th.

The Thome deal reunites him with Manny Ramirez. The sluggers played together in Cleveland for eight seasons from 1993-2000, including the 1997 World Series. They have a combined 1,106 homers.

“He’s one of the best guys I ever played with in my entire career,” Ramirez said. “He’s a great guy in the clubhouse. I’m happy to see him. He’s one of the best hitters, too. I’m just glad he’s on my team.”

The 39-year-old Thome is hitting .252 with 23 home runs and 74 RBI in 106 games this season. He has 564 career home runs.

The White Sox get minor league infielder Justin Fuller and will send an unknown amount of cash to the Dodgers. The Diamondbacks will receive a player to be named for Garland.

Center fielder Matt Kemp said he found out about the deals when the young sons of CNN’s Larry King shouted the news into the Dodgers’ dugout.

“They give us a big boost,” he said. “We’ll take anything they can help us to win games. It lets us know they want to win and they’re doing whatever it takes. I’m excited to have them.”

Thome, who has not played first base since playing one game in 2007, goes from a third-place team trailing Detroit and Minnesota in the AL Central Division to the first-place Dodgers, who lead Colorado by 5½ games in the NL West.

Garland is 8-11 with a 4.29 ERA. He gave up five hits and a walk over seven sharp innings in a 9-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday.

When reached by The Associated Press, White Sox general manager Kenny Williams refused to comment.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he planned to talk to Garland about starting on Thursday in place of knuckleballer Charlie Haeger.

“Jon Garland is going to get the ball every five days and if we have six starters, so be it,” Torre said. “It has made us stronger. We have some threat off the bench now, and with Garland, we have someone who knows how to pitch.”

Braves 5, Marlins 2

At Miami, Omar Infante hit a two-run triple and Kenshin Kawakami pitched six effective innings to carry the Braves.

David Ross, Adam LaRoche, and Yunel Escobar each drove in a run for Atlanta, which moved within three games of idle wild-card co-leaders San Francisco and Colorado. Florida fell four games back.

Kawakami (7-10) allowed one run and six hits. He struck out five without walking a batter.

Astros 5, Cubs 3

At Chicago, Carlos Lee hit a two-run home run and drove in four runs and Roy Oswalt pitched seven strong innings for Houston.

Oswalt (8-5) allowed two runs on six hits, striking out three and walking one.

Reds 4, Pirates 3, Game 1
Reds 6, Pirates 3, Game 2

At Cincinnati, Brandon Phillips hit one homer and had another overturned after a review, and the Reds swept a doubleheader from the Pirates.

Phillips had three hits off left-hander Paul Maholm (7-8), including a solo homer. Replays on his solo shot in the fifth showed the drive down the left-field line was foul.

In the opener, Darnell McDonald scored on a wild pitch from Jesse Chavez (0-4) in the bottom of the ninth for the win.

Nick Masset (5-1) got the victory with one inning in relief.

Padres 3, Nationals 1

At San Diego, Livan Hernandez lost despite throwing a complete game.

Hernandez (7-9) threw the 47th complete game of his career and second this season. He also had a complete game in a 6-1 win for the New York Mets against the Nationals on May 26.

David Eckstein and Kevin Kouzmanoff hit RBI doubles in the first inning, and Chase Headley added a pinch-hit home run in the eighth for San Diego.

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