Matt Kamlet, CBSLA.com
CHAVEZ RAVINE (CBSLA.com) — The rivalry is most definitely renewed, and Dodger Stadium is the battleground.
The Dodgers, having been well energized with a Los Angeles-tying streak of 26-6 and Yasiel Puig’s first-ever walk of home run, played host to the Yankees, who were seeing new energy of their own with the addition of Alfonso Soriano and the return of “The Captain” — Derek Jeter.
When your history goes as deep as it does between these two clubs — 11 World Series meetings ranks second in title-meetings between any two teams in any sport — there is a level of respect.
Jeter’s at-bat in the first inning, in which he grounded out to second, was met with applause by fans of both teams.
As if the rivalry itself didn’t bring enough magic into Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers pulled the rabbit out of the hat with their second-consecutive walkoff victory.
Zack Greinke held New York to two runs, striking out seven over seven innings and Mark Ellis hit a 2-out walkoff RBI single to score Andre Ethier from second and beat the Yankees in the first of the two-game series, 3-2.
The Dodgers now lead the NL West by 3.5 games, and their 27-6 record over a 33 game stretch ties the best in franchise history (1953).
Just as the sight of the Yankees at Dodger Stadium brought back nostalgic memories, the sight of Ethier scoring the winning run and being swarmed by teammates brought back a subtle, more recent memory for Dodger fans, that had last been seen in a miraculous 2009 for the outfielder.
Yasiel Puig officially welcomed the “Bronx Bombers” to Chavez Ravine when he hit a one-out double off the wall, narrowly missing a home run, off Andy Pettitte in the first inning. It’s apparent that manager and former Yankees star Don Mattingly had words with Puig about flipping his bat, as the rookie took off right after contact, instead of repeating the bat-flip incident performed in Toronto.
Puig would come in to score when Hanley Ramirez hit a line drive comebacker up the middle with two outs, giving the Dodgers a 1-0 lead and extending Hanley’s hitting streak to 11 games.
The Yankees responded in the second when Lyle Overbay connected to send a fastball over the wall in right field for his 12th homer of the season to lead off the inning. It was the tenth long ball Greinke had given up all year, and the game was tied at one run.
Juan Uribe retook the lead for the Dodgers when he absolutely hammered a ball down the left field line and into the loge level just past the foul pole, giving the Dodgers the 2-1 lead.
The Dodgers had an opportunity to extend the lead in the third inning after Ramirez reached again, this time with a double into the gap in right-center. A.J. Ellis slapped a single into right, and Ramirez challenged Ichiro Suzuki’s arm when he was waved around third. Suzuki gunned Ramirez down easily as Chris Stewart applied the tag at the plate to end the inning.
Soriano led off the fourth with a double down the left field line and advanced to third on a wild pitch. He was brought in by Overbay, who brought in both RBI for the Yanks, to tie the ball game at two runs.
Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansen were both lights-out in the eighth and ninth innings, with Jansen striking out two of the three batters he faced and has now retired 16 straight batters.
It was the perfect way to set up an incredible bottom of the ninth.
Andre Ethier singled to left after A.J. Ellis had grounded out, and was able to steal second after a bad throw from Stewart behind the plate.
The stolen base would prove to be the game-changer.
Mark Ellis fought at the plate after Juan Uribe had struck out swinging. After earning a full count off Shawn Kelly (3-1, 3.57 ERA), Ellis connected to send a ball into the gap. Ethier rounded third and ended the ball game with the winning run, bringing back moments of Ethier’s remarkable 2009 season, in which he earned the nickname “Captain Clutch”.
Just as it was in the Bronx earlier in the season, where “New York, New York” played after the Yankees game 1 victory, the Bombers, for the first time in a long time, got to take a listen to “I Love L.A.”.
The Dodgers made headlines earlier Tuesday by signing free agent reliever Brian Wilson to a one-year deal. Wilson last pitched in April of 2012, having Tommy John surgery in that same month.
Los Angeles will put staff ace Clayton Kershaw (10-6, 1.96 ERA) on the mound on Wednesday to take on former Dodger Hiroki Kuroda (10-6, 2.51).