Dodgers and Bosox Split Two-Game Series

<B>VERO BEACH, FLORIDA</B>--In a World Series atmosphere, before the fifth largest crowd in the history of the spring season in Dodgertown -- 8,135, 2004 Boston World Series hero Derek Lowe gave up a pair of runs in the second inning and whilehe pitched well was tagged with a 7-3 loss. The Dodgers and Sox split their two spring game, Los Angeles winning the first 2-1.

Who could have imagined last October that the ESPN announcer would report on March 21, "Starting against the Boston Red Sox this afternoon, Derek Lowe."?

Lowe struggled the first two innings, allowing a single and a pair of walks in the first but a double play got him out of trouble. In the second, Boston collected a pair of two out singles before he got the final out of the inning. Then he was tagged in the third.

Trot Nixon opened the inning with a single but right fielder Jason Repko added another line to his repertory by throwing outfielder him out at third base on a single to right by first baseman David Ortiz, saving a run when the hit was followed by a home run by Kevin Youkilis into the fan-filled berm in right field. 2-0 Boston.

The Dodgers got one of the two runs back in the last of the fourth. Hee Seop Choi slugged a ball off the base of the fence in centerfield for a double. With one out, Jose Valentin hit a drive in nearly the same place and Choi scored just before the throw from the outfield. 2-1 Boston.

It was Valentin's fifth hit of the spring and included two doubles, a triple and two homers. His RBI was the seventh, one behind team leader JD Drew.

Lowe finished his five inning stint, allowing six hits and a pair of runs.

Eric Gagne, sidelined with a knee strain in the early part of the training season, made his first appearance of the year in the sixth. He got a pair simple ground balls with a walk mixed in, then ended the inning with a called third strike.

It on a few pitches his knee looked as if it was tender -- it appeared he would make a small crow-hop to keep his weight off the knee. He hit 90-91 on the speed gun and threws 24 pitches, 15 strikes.

Duaner Sanchez also made his 2005 debut. Too bad Jason Grabowski replaced Navarro had left the game because fans would have experienced Duaner pitching to Dioner.

Sanchez struggled, giving up a walk, a single and a double for a quick run. Another scored on a fly to left field that Chin-Feng Chen had to circle the wagon to make the catch. A balk cost him a third run. A two-out walk ended his afternoon and lefty Frank Brooks came in to end the inning. 5-1 Boston.

The Dodgers bounced back in the bottom of the seventh when Antonio Perez beat out an infield hit, Repko walked and both moved up on a wild pitch. Jason Grabowski singled just out of the reach of the Boston second baseman to score Perez.

Pinch-hitter Norihiro Nakamura hit a blazer over the first base bag but the Sox first baseman made a diving pickup -- saving a two-run double -- and got the out at first as Repko scored, moving Los Angeles back into the game. 5-3 Boston.

But Los Angeles quickly fell further behind when Brooks gave up a pair of doubles to open the top of the eighth and righthander Buddy Carlyle took over. He allowed a single and the seventh Red Sox run, then retired the side in order in the ninth.

The Dodgers went quietly in the ninth.

Antonio Perez had two of the Dodgers six hits and boosted his average to .333. Choi and Valentin collected doubles, while Drew and Grabowski each had singles.

LeJohn dead--Don LeJohn, 70, died February 25 in California. LeJohn played 34 games for the Dodgers in 1970 after almost 12 years in the minors. He hit .359 at Shawnee, .345 at Wichita Falls and .395 at Albuquerque before getting a call to The Show. It was his only year in the majors and 1971 was his final year as a full-time player although he became a manager in 1967 and spent over two decades as a manager and a scout.

Dodger Blue Notes--Newly acquired catcher Jason Phillips said his first item of business is to become familiar with the pitchers. "Offense will definitely take a back seat to making sure, first of all, that I learn the pitchers names. I'm anxious to get out on the field but I don't even know who is in camp, who's a starter and who's a reliever. I think that knowing my role instead of showing up at the park every day and not knowing what to expect, not seeing your name in the lineup four or five days in a row and not knowing why." … Outfielder Cody Ross was optioned to the minor league side of Dodgertown and with injured pitcher Orlando Rodriguez optioned off the 40-man roster and clearing waivers, it opens up two spots on the roster. … The Dodgers will pay $2.2 million of the $3.2 million owed Ishii and could be on the line for more if the Mets do not pick up his option after this year. … Maicer Izturis, half-brother of the Dodgers' Cesar, is drawing rave reviews for his efforts at shortstop for the Anaheim Angels. … A number of former Dodgers were in a Boston uniform for the game, including pitching coach Dave Wallace who was an assistant general manager and pitching coach and former minor league coaches Ron Jackson and Brad Mills.