LOS ANGELES (AP) – First, there was a violent play at the plate that led to two ejections and a benches-clearing incident. Then the game was won on a play at the plate with an unusual tag.
Enrique Hernandez dodged home on a wild throw by pitcher Matt Bush in the 11th inning and the Los Angeles Dodgers edged the Texas Rangers 3-2 on Wednesday night.
Hernandez drew a leadoff walk from Jesse Chavez (2-1) and moved up on a long flyout. Yasiel Puig was intentionally walked and Chavez was yanked after a walk to Logan Forsythe loaded the bases.
Austin Barnes followed with a comebacker, and Bush reached out to grab it. But Bush hurried as he spun around, and his throw home for a potential forceout pulled catcher Carlos Perez off the plate. Hernandez stepped over Barnes’ bat, pirouetted around the catcher and touched home with his right hand, leaving Perez tagging nothing but air.
“Just bringing back my Latino roots, showing off my salsa moves,” Hernandez joked.
Matt Kemp gave Hernandez a rave review: “Great slide, avoided the tag, very limber.”
The Rangers asked for a replay review, and the safe call was upheld. After Barnes’ at-bat, the Dodgers would’ve run out of position players – instead, Bush’s error sent Texas to its season-worst sixth straight loss. The last-place Rangers got swept for the third time this season and second straight series.
Adam Liberatore (2-1) got the win in relief.
In the third, Kemp and Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos got ejected and the benches and bullpens cleared.
With two outs, Hernandez singled to right and Kemp tried to score from second base. Chirinos caught a pinpoint throw by Nomar Mazara and had his glove out to tag Kemp.
Kemp barreled into Chirinos with his arms up, leading with his shoulder. Chirinos’ helmet flew off as he got knocked over and Kemp fell, too. Chirinos held onto the ball for the out.
Chirinos and Kemp jostled as they got up. That led to both benches and bullpens clearing and forming a scrum at the plate. Kemp was restrained by Rangers starter Cole Hamels.
“I didn’t know he was going to come after me like that,” Chirinos said. “I got mad when Kemp got up and he leaned into me and put his shoulder into me. That’s when I rushed him. Everyone knows the rule, they preach it to us in spring training. It was emotional.”
No punches were thrown.
“It’s not a big deal,” Kemp said. “Two guys shoving each other and it’s over.”
The rules outlaw runners from plowing into catchers, and catchers have to give runners a lane to the plate in most cases. In this play, the throw home took Chirinos directly into Kemp’s path to the plate.
“I think it’s unclear to everybody,” Kemp said of the newer rule. “He was blocking the plate. I don’t know the rule. I don’t even know how it works. I didn’t have a clear path to slide. All I could really think about when I saw him blocking the plate was Washington when I slid into home and messed up my ankle. I didn’t want to do that again.”
Crew chief Bill Welke said Kemp didn’t violate the rule, and both players were ejected for their tussle after the play.
“The runner is protected by the blocking of the plate if he slides,” Welke told a pool reporter after the game. “Kemp choose not to slide, therefore he lost his protection.”
Hernandez called the third-inning brouhaha “a little bit of old-school baseball.”
“I’m one of the older guys now and when I first came up that’s how they slid into home, but the game has transitioned,” Hamels said. “Sportsmanship has changed. I can’t give you definite answer if Kemp broke the rule or not. It’s a tough way to lose.”
With two outs in the ninth and Yasiel Puig on third, Delino DeShields robbed pinch-hitter Yasmani Grandal of a home run at the center field wall. DeShields leaped and caught the ball before landing on his rear to send the game into extra innings.
Texas tied the game 2-all in the fourth on RBI singles by Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo.
The Dodgers led 1-0 in the first on Justin Turner’s homer. They added a run in the second on a double steal by Puig and Forsythe. Puig scored from third.
Hamels allowed two runs – one earned – and five hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked four. Turner’s homer was the 18th given up by Hamels this season.
Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda allowed two runs and five hits in five innings while facing the Rangers for the first time in his career. He walked three and struck out one in his first start since May 29 after being on the DL with a right hip strain.
Rangers: SS Elvis Andrus (right elbow fracture) went 1-for-7 in his first two rehab games at Double-A Frisco and was to set to be the DH and play seven innings on Wednesday. Manager Jeff Banister says Andrus’ return depends on when he’s in shape to play every day. Andrus isn’t expected to rejoin the team before this weekend. … LHP Matt Moore won’t start this weekend and is being sent to the bullpen to work on his delivery and make necessary adjustments.
Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (lower back strain) threw a bullpen for the second straight day, with president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Dave Roberts watching. Kershaw also worked on mechanics with pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. … LHP Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) will make a rehab start Thursday for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. If it goes well, Hill will rejoin the rotation next week in Chicago. … LHP Alex Wood threw a bullpen session.
Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre doubled in the fourth inning, giving him 3,090 career hits to break a tie with Ichiro Suzuki for the most by a a non-U.S. native.
Rangers: Following a day off, LHP Yohander Mendez gets recalled from Triple-A Round Rock to start the series opener Friday against Colorado. He made a brief appearance earlier this season with the Rangers and has started 10 games for the Express with a 5.26 ERA this season. Mendez is filling in for injured RHP Doug Fister (knee). RHP Mike Minor had been set to start Friday, but will be pushed back to Saturday.
Dodgers: After an off-day, RHP Ross Stripling (5-1, 1.65) will start Friday’s home opener against the rival Giants. He and Wood are flip-flopping, with Wood getting an extra day before he starts Saturday.
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