Error in Seventh Costs L.A. a 2-1 Loss

In a game was was played as deliberately as if it was the seventh game of the World Series, Cleveland edged the Dodgers 2-1 when an error and a wild pitch broke a 1-1 tie in the seventh inning. Starter Chad Billingsley worked three strong innings and rookie Jerry Sands ripped the Dodgers' second home run in the young spring season for their only run.

The Cleveland staff smothered the projected Dodgers starting squad, allowing only a single in the third inning to Rod Barajas before they all took the rest of the game off. Rookie Jerry Sands home run tied the game in the top of the seventh and hit show was the only baserunner from Barajas single to the end of the game.

After Billingsley, five pitchers allowed seven hits and eight walks but danced around the base runners so carefully, they were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left an even dozen men.

The Dodgers left only two on base and neither of them was as far as second base. Only 2,008 fans were on hand for the delightfully warm afternoon, that wasn't so delightful for the handful of Dodgers fans on hand.

Roman Colon was the losing pitcher and the victim an error and a wild pitch that scored the second run.

The Dodgers faced starter Mark Buehrle, who will extend his franchise record with his ninth Opening Day start when the games start to count. It was a day for the regulars and the starting lineup for Los Angeles was:

Rafael Furcal, ss
Casey Blake, 3b
Andre Ethier, rf
Matt Kemp, cf
James Loney, 1b
Juan Uribe, 2b
Marcus Thames, dh
Rod Barajas, c
Tony Gwynn, lf
The Game
Behrele allowed only a walk to Loney in his two innings of work.

Billingsley retired the first two Indians in the first, then gave up a single to catcher Carlos Santana and designated hitter Travis Hafner. The ball skipped by Gwynn in left field but he retrieved it in time to throw to Furcal at short and his relay to Barajas at the plate just nipped Santana to end the inning.

Billingsley would allow only an infield hit over his final two innings and gave way to Lance Cormier, who was 4-3, 3.92 over 60 games for Baltimore last season. Cormier retired Santana on a blistering shot to Uribe at second base and Hafner on a tap back to the mound but then Austin Kerns singled and Orlando Cabrera doubled him across for a 1-0 lead at the end of four innings.

Lefty Wilkin De La Rosa, 26, a former Yankee minor leaguer who went 2-4, 5.33 last season at Double-A Trenton, took over in the bottom of the fifth. He loaded the bases with a hit and two walks but got out of the jam when Russell Mitchell at first base ranged wide to his right and while falling flipped the ball to first for the out.

After six innings, Cleveland had allowed one hit (Barajas in the third) and led 1-0. In the fifth and sixth, five straight Dodgers went down on strikes.

Jon Huber, who was 3-3 with a 2.30 earned run average last season while pitching for Double-A Mississippi and Chattanooga, took over in the bottom of the sixth. The Indians collected a hit and three walks but a double play kept the inning scoreless.

Rookie Jerry Sands, who slugged 36 home runs to top all Dodgers minor leaguers in 2010, ended a string of 13 consecutive outs when he slammed a one-out shot over the Indians bullpen and onto the berm to tie the game 1-1.

The tie game was placed in the hands of Roman Colon, who pitched only two innings in 2010 with Triple-A Omaha in the Kansas City organization before playing in Korea. Colon was 8-10 with a 5.12 ERA in 121 career Major League games with the Braves (2004-05), Tigers (2005-06) and Royals (2009-10).

Shortstop Dee Gordon bounced a throw past Mitchell at first to allow the first Indian batter to reach base in the seventh. A ground ball moved him to third and a wild pitch broke the tie. He issued a pair of walks and was replaced by Oscar Villarreal.

Villarreal, 29, who was 24-15 with Arizona, Atlanta and Houston 2003-2008, missed the 2009 season due to injury, then went 4-3, 4.40 for Leigh Valley, the Phillies AAA team in 2010. He ended the inning by getting a fly to left but the Indians held a 2-1 lead.

Tempus Fugit
Despite the well-deserved articles on Duke Snider and his remarkable seasons on remarkable Brooklyn, when leaving Camelback Ranch wearing a Brooklyn cap with it's distinctive "B" on it, two different Dodgers fans shouted at your correspondent,"OK! Boston." Oh, well.

Santana on Display
It was the first time for many Dodgers fans to get a look at Carlos Santana, who came to Cleveland from Los Angles in lieu of Casey Blake's $2 million salary.

Santana, 25, who will probably be the Indians starting catcher this year, was their top prospect last season. In 182 games in the Cleveland minor league system he hit .303 with 36 home runs and 148 runs batted in.

A converted third baseman like Russell Martin before him, he seemed to be on the fast track to Los Angeles when the controversial trade was made in 2008 while he was hitting .316 with 99 runs batted in over 96 games at Inland Empire.

Santana, a switch-hitter, would have fit right into the Dodgers lineup this year after Martin's general regression caused the Dodgers to let him become a free agent rather than pay him the $5.5 million he was asking for. He later signed with the Yankees for $4 million.

With Martin gone, the Dodgers paid $3.25 million to free agent 35-year-old Rod Barajas for 2011.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Buster Olney of writes "with 22 of their first 38 games against teams that were .500 or better last year and 21 of their first 38 on the road, no team in the majors has a more difficult schedule right out of the starting blocks. With 19 consecutive games to open the season that finished over .500 last year, including six games against the Giants and back-to-back on the road at Colorado and San Diego, they then get back-to-back series against the Cardinals and Braves." ...Although Clayton Kershaw didn't allow an earned run over his three-inning debut, it was Jonathan Broxton who got the win over the White Sox by pitching to just four batters. He will start the season as the closer and will pitch in about 10 games during the spring. He told Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times that he is considering throwing more split finger fastballs this year. But... "If I locate my fastball, that's all I need. I don't want to get beat on my third pitch. I'm probably just going to stay hard." ...First baseman and all-around good guy John Lindsey, who made his major league debut last year after 16 years in the minors, has been slowed this spring by the lingering effects of a left-leg cramp suffered a few days ago. ...Jay Gibbons didn't make the short trip to Goodyear Ballpark because of the flu. Marcus Thames drew the start in his place as the designated hitter. ...

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