Jackson Battered in 6-2 Cardinal Win

<b>VERO BEACH, Florida</b>--The Cardinals continued their mastery over Los Angeles, following their National League Division playoff win in 2004 with consecutive 6-1 and 6-2 wins in exhibition play. They meet once more, March 25, in Holman Stadium.

Young Edwin Jackson followed a bad start in Viera against the Washington Nationals (two innings, six hits, five runs) that was mercifully rained out at that point, with an equally ugly three innings in Jupiter: five runs on nine hits in three innings.

The performance may have determined that the young pitcher, admittedly very talented but with much to learn, will open the season at Las Vegas.

Elmer Dessens took over in the fourth and battled through three innings, allowing four hits, a walk and one run before Frank Brooks took over in the sixth with two out and two on to get him out of a jam. He also worked the seventh, throwing a zero.

Buddy Carlyle, who allowed only one run over eight innings in his first four games, impressed again with a shutout eighth inning, K'ing a pair.

The Dodgers went meekly, Jackson knocking in the only Dodger run the first seven innings with a single in the second inning that allowed Jason Repko -- who had also singled -- to score. Repko also collected singles in the seventh and ninth to fnish 3-for-4 and boost his average to a whopping .417 (15-for-36).

Singles by Olmedo Saenz and Tony Schrager -- who boosted his average to .389 -- in the eighth gave Los Angeles their second and final run of the game.

Direct Report--Dodger broadcasters Rick Monday and Al Downing, reported that ace stopper Eric Gagne had received a cortisone shot in his injured knee and speculated he might not be ready for the opener April 5. Just an inning or two later they received a call in Jupiter. "I will be ready by opening Day," the caller, Eric Gagne himself, told them. Pending a call to the contrary, Odalis Perez worked a bullpen and says he needs only three starts to be ready for the season.

Trade Rumor--The Dodgers are close to trading erratic lefty Kaz Ishii for Jason Phillips, a catcher with the New York Mets.

Ishii, who is battling for the fifth spot in the Dodger rotation; Phillips is battling to become the backup catcher for the Mets. Ishii is due $3.2 million this year. He is also owed $5.4 million in 2005 and a buyout in 2006.

The departure of Ishii would probably move lefty Wilson Alvarez into the fifth spot, pending the arrival of Brad Penny. It could mean demotion to Las Vegas for David Ross, who has had a tough spring season at the plate, going 0-for-13 after hitting .170 in 2004.

Ishii has won 36 games over the last three seasons and he pitched the Dodgers' only complete game shutouts last season but his control caused manager Jim Tracy to banish him to the bullpen twice in 2004. He has averaged 102 walks over the three seasons.

Phillips had a couple solid seasons in the minor leagues, hitting .388 over 27 games and .293 in a full season in AA and .289 over parts of three seasons in AAA

He has played parts of four seasons for New York, but saw action in only 17 games at the end of 2001 and 2002. He hit .298 with 25 doubles and 11 homers over 403 at-bats in 2003, knocking inn 58 runs.

However, starting the season over 38 games at first base, then moving behind the plate for 88 games in 2004, he hit only .218 in 128 games with seven home runs and 34 RBI. He lost his starting spot at first because of his anemic average.

As a catcher in '04, he threw out 19 of 61 runners attempting to steal and his .311 percentage would have placed him third in the National League had he played enough games.

His catcher's earned run average of 3.87 was .22 points below the team's earned run mark of 4.09. For a point of reference, Brent Mayne was .44 lower and Paul Lo Duca was .28 points below the Dodgers' ERA in 2004.

"Nobody has mentioned anything to me," Phillips said. "I don't want to think about it. ... but at least somebody wants me."

Phillips is hitting .550 with 11 hits in 20 trips -- with a home run and four doubles plus nine RBI-- this spring. Although he was a San Diego fan as a youngster, perhaps the Dodgers cannot resist adding another Jason to the roster, joining Grabowski, Repko and Werth (who is a Jayson) and minor leaguer Olson.

Jason Phillips       6-1   177   Br   Tr
Born-September 27, 1976    Residence-LaMesa, California
year  tm   ave  obp    gm  ab   r  h  2b  3b  hr  bi  sb
2001  NYM  .143  .143    6    7   2   1   1   0   0   0  0
2002  NYM  .368  .409   11   19   4   7   4   3   3   3  0
2003  NYM  .298  .373  119  403  45 120  25   0  11  58  0
2004  NYM  .218  .298  128  362  34  79  18   0   7  34  0

Simulated game--The Dodgers held an impromptu game yesterday, making up for the rainout on March 17. Kaz Ishii, Wilson Alvarez and Mike Venafro all pitched to a mostly-minor league team.

Ishii worked five innings and demonstrated the good-news bad-news effort so typical of him, one that drives managers wild: one run -- on James Loney's home run -- on two hits with eight strikeouts but five walks, two wild pitches and a hit batter. Despite all, he has not allowed an earned run in seven exhibition innings.

Wilson Alvarez was stretched out to 86 pitches and gave up four earned run while fanning five. Mike Venafro, followed Alvarez on the mound and allowed -- with considerable help from his infield -- seven consecutive hitters reach base.

Catcher Dave Ross, hitting against the three Dodger major league pitchers, banged out his first three hits of the season, including a two-run double -- although they won't count on the official record. He had received personalized batting instructions from Tracy post game in the indoor cages.

Let's Play Two--Los Angeles will pull an Ernie Banks tomorrow, playing a split-squad doubleheader. They host the Washington Nationals in Holman Stadium and meet the Mets in St. Lucie.