Rain Saves Dodgers in Fifth Inning

<b>VIERA, Florida</b>--What looked like a long afternoon for the Dodgers turned into a very short one, washing out a 5-0 deficit and sending the Dodger bus rolling back to Dodgertown. It was the second rainout this exhibition season.

The Dodgers just finished hitting in the top of the third inning when a violent rain storm accompanied by a strong wind hit the stadium and scrubbed all action

Edwin Jackson had an outing to forget, allowing a run in the first inning on two singles, a wild pickoff throw at first and a passed ball.

It got worse in the second. Jackson was tagged with three singles, two walks and a double -- plus another wild pitch/passed ball -- and four runs rolled across the plate.

The Dodger lineup each had one plate appearance with a couple strikeouts, an easy fly to left, a pair of popups and two ground balls producing no runners.

The only Los Angeles hitter to sting the ball was Jackson himself, who lined out just before the downpour ended this abruptly.

The Dodgers will travel to Orlando to battle the Braves on Tuesday, then return to Dodgertown on Wednesday to meet Baltimore and host Houston on St. Patrick's Day (also Pete Reiser's birthday) on Thursday.

Sparkling Penny--Brad Penny threw 65 pitches off the mound in Dodgertown, inclding 14 curve balls, and seemed delighted with his efforts. Eric Gagne and Odalis Perez also threw in the strings area,

Rough Cut--The Dodgers sent eight players to the minor league side of Dodgertown Monday morning. Included were pitchers Joel Hanrahan, Ryan Ketchner, Orlando Rodriguez and Derek Thompson; outfielders Jon Weber and Tydus Meadows; first baseman James Loney and second baseman Delwyn Young.

Dodger Blue Notes--Wilson Alvarez worked three shutout innings but lefty Elmer Dessens, coming back off a strained calf muscle, retired only one of the six hitters he faced Sunday in a 'B' game against the Marlins that was scheduled to make up for a rainout earlier in the week. Should-be Hall of Famer Maury Wills coached first during the game but couldn't generate much offense in the 6-1 loss. ... Norihiro Nakamura, after getting his swing tweaked by hitting coach Tim Wallach, has collected six hits -- including a homer -- in his last 10 at-bats going into the game against the Nationals in Viera. After fanning four times in his first nine at-bats he has struck out only once in his most recent 11 trips to the plate. ... Odds are on Derek Lowe in the Dodgers' opener because off-days will allow the starter to pitch three times in the first nine days. ... Jose Valentin is only one of four shortstops to hit 25+ home run over five seasons. The others? Alex Rodriguez, Cal Ripkin and Miguel Tejada. ... The Nationals, nee Montreal Expos, have sold 22,000 season tickets and have 1,720,000 in attendance before a bat is swung or a pitch is thrown in regular season play. ... The infield tarp at Vier is sponsored by The Weather Channel. It says on the tarp, "We told you it would." ...