Astros stop Dodgers in spring fling

It was the first day of spring and in this instance young men's fancy turned to base hits. Los Angeles and Houston combined for 31 of them in a night game at Holman Stadium, with the Dodgers collecting 16, but the Astros tucked four doubles, a triple and a home run into the mix and outlasted their hosts 10-7. The Dodgers trailed 10-3 into the eighth, then scored four runs in the last two innings, then left the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.

Hideo Nomo started and was rocked for seven runs on five hits in five innings, allowing two doubles in the first, two singles and a homer in the second, a singled and a double in the fourth and another double in the fifth to leave the game trailing 7-0. It was his third loss without a win.

Ricky Bell filled in at third base for Adrian Beltré who was slated to start but was taken out of he lineup at the last minute when he felt discomfort in his throwing arm. The move was precautionary and Beltré should not miss another start.

Bell was a more than ample replacement, collecting two singles, a double and an RBI. Jason Romano singled twice and overall, driving in a run, and an even dozen Dodgers had hits during the game, 11 of them coming in the final four innings.

Los Angeles got on the board in the sixth when Bell doubled and Paul Lo Duca followed with a double to right for the first run. An error, a walk, a long fly by Jose Hernandez and a single by pitcher Masao Kida scored three.

Houston scored twice on Kida and once against Paul Shuey to take a 10-3 lead but the Dodgers fought back, scoring twice in the eighth when, following a walk, Jason Romano, Joel Guzman and Bell singled sharply.

They added two more in the last of the ninth as Chin-Feng Chen, Jose Flores and Ryan Kellner laced singles, pitcher Agustin Montero was hit by a pitch and Romano walked to cut the lead to 10-7.

But with the tying run on first and the winning run at the plate, Houston retired the final two Dodger hitters to collect the win.

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