Dodgers Top Marlins, Earn Seventh Win

<b>VERO BEACH, Florida</b>--The Dodgers, using two Florida errors, a squeeze bunt and three doubles, topped a pair of homers by the Marlins 5-3. Odalis Perez, in his first start, worked two strong innings while allowing only one run. Giovanni Carrara (who got the win while lowering his ERA to 1.38), led a sparkling bullpen effort that included Mike Venafro, Elmer Dessens, Kelly Wunsch and Yhency Brazoban. Overall, the pen allowed two earned runs on two home runs.

Perez, slowed by biceps tendinitis, made his first appearance a strong one, working two innings and allowing one run, a home run by Carlos Delgado. Perez navigated the two innings on only 26 pitches, 16 strikes.

"I felt fine, I was happy to get back out there and pitch," he said after the game. "I might have been able to go longer (the Dodgers were limiting him to 30 pitches), but they said that was enough this time. If I get three more starts, I'll be able to go six or maybe more innings, depending on the number of pitches I have to throw."

Asked about Jason Phillips, just acquired from the Mets, he said, "I felt very comfortable with him. He did a good job."

Phillips was the first Dodger to reach base, drawing a walk in the second inning. Phillips is wearing Ishii's number (17) but will be in #9 when the season opens.

Giovanni Carrara, at 37 the oldest man on the roster (by three days over Jeff Kent), took over in the third. He allowed a funky, wind-blown double that ran up the alley in left-center but pitched out of trouble quickly. He earned the win, his first of the year.

Ricky Ledee duplicated the Marlin double in the previous inning, then scored when Jeff Kent singled and the ball got away in the outfield for an error. With two out, Nori Nakamura hit a 45-foot pop up the first base line that somehow dropped in front of Delgado who was playing first and the Dodgers got a gift run and a 2-1 lead.

Los Angeles added two more in the fifth on a walk to Henri Stanley, a double by Antonio Perez, his 12th hit of the spring, and a sacrifice fly by Chin-Feng Chen.

The Dodgers gave a run back in the fifth as Carrara was stretched to three innings. Antonio Perez booted a ball to open the inning and after a walk, Joe Thurston got a force at second but then threw the relay to first away and allowed a run to score. A single put runners on first and third and Carrara was excused for the day.

Lefty Mike Venafro came in to face left-handed hitting Delgado with one out and got a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Elmer Dessens took over in the sixth, fell behind 0-2 and served up a home run to Mike Lowell, cutting the Dodger lead to 4-3. He then cruised through his two innings, allowing no more runs.

Kelly Wunsch, battling for the situational lefty spot on the roster, took over in the eighth and fanned Delgado and Lowell, each of whom had homered earlier in the game. Paul Lo Duca singled and surprised the Dodgers by stealing second base. An easy fly to center ended the inning.

Guillermo Mota pitched against his former team in the top of the ninth. Mike Rose opening the inning with a single. Henri Stanley fanned and Paul Bako hit a double play ball that skipped through the second baseman's legs. Jose Flores then executed a perfect sacrifice squeeze to score Bako, a play you won't see often in spring training. The Dodgers took a 5-3 lead into the last of the ninth.

Yhency Brazoban came in to close the game out but walked the first man he faced. Firing in the mid-90's, Brazoban got a strikeout, threw out the next hitter himself that probably hit 97 on the speed gun, then ended the game with a called third strike. It was his first save of the spring and he lowered his ERA to 1.13 over seven games.

Gagne Was Hurting--While Eric Gagne got his first appearance of the season over with Monday against the Red Sox and didn't reinjure his knee, it was apparent that he was uncomfortable. Pitching coach Jim Colborn was encouraged with his effort although he was not in his normal groove. "I thought it was a definite step forward toward being ready by opening day," Colborn said. Gagne noted that he expected the pain but that the "mental awareness" of the injury bothered him for a time and said "I was trying to protect it and not put too much weight on it."

Dodger Blue Notes--Brad Penny threw in a simulated game at Vero Beach and his fastball was timed in the mid-90s. It was great news for the Dodger staff, players and fans. … Duaner Sanchez admitted his mechanics was pretty well out of sync after he was lit up by the Red Sox on Monday. "I was lost out there," he said. … Trainer Dennis Fukuzawa, who was Kaz Ishii's trainer in Japan and came to the U.S. with him, moved down the freeway to St. Lucie to join the Mets when his friend was traded away. …