Dodgers top Sox before 8,000

An overflow crowd of some 8,000 fans saw a pitching duel that resembled a September battle in a tight pennant race and the Dodgers came away with a 3-2 victory. The win was particularly sweet for new owners Frank and Jamie McCourt, Boston natives who had invited a large number of friends to watch the game. <br><br>

Odalis Perez, who has been dangled as trade bait since voicing the same complaint most of us were thinking throughout the 2003 season, gained the victory with five strong innings.

Last year Perez complained that "unless the team scores more runs, we aren't going to win many games" and drew the wrath of his teammates and front office personnel. Since then he has been rumored in trades with most of the teams in both the National and American leagues.

Manager Jim Tracy, and most Dodger fans, have enjoyed Perez's work this year and if you judged by spring results only, would admit he is the best pitcher on the staff.

After completing his six-inning effort during which he struck out five and allowed three scattered singles, Perez had lowered his ERA to a microscopic 0.56.

Eric Gagne followed and allowed his first hit of the spring, then retired the next three Bostonians in order, fanning the last two. Tom Martin worked one shutout inning; Paul Shuey struck out all three hitters he faced and Rick White gave up the two Red Sox runs in the top of the ninth but fanned the final hitter with the tying run on base. In all, 11 Sox hitters bit the dust via the strikeout.

The Dodgers got the only run they needed off old nemeses Curt Shilling, who would be already enshrined in the Hall of Fame if he had pitched as well against the rest of the major league teams as he had against the Dodgers.

With one out in the second, Jolbert Cabrera beat out a near-perfect bunt. Luis Garcia singled sharply and the throw to third in an attempt to nail Cabrera hit him as he slid into third base and bounced away. Jose Hernandez's ground ball to short scored the big run.

That was the scoring until the last of the seventh. With Schilling out of the game the Dodgers piled up four hits and a pair of runs, with Bubba Trammell and Koyie Hill each smacking RBI singles.

Hernandez was the only Dodger with multiple hits as Los Angeles improved to 10-12.