Dodger Rally in Eighth to Top St. Louis 6-4

VERO BEACH, FLORIDA</B>--On a hot and muggy afternoon, with dark clouds threatening rain, Scott Erickson solidified his starting slot on the Dodger staff, allowed four hits and an unearned run during his five innings of work. Chin-Feng Chen slugged a game-winning home run n the eight to key a four-run explosion and lefty Kelly Wunsch collected a rare sort of win without throwing a pitch. It was the first win over the Cardinals since the National League Division Series last October.



Erickson experienced his first bit of trouble in the fourth, giving up a leadoff single and a walk. However, he got 3B Scott Roland to bang into a double play and Erickson knocked down a line shot and threw the runner out to end the inning.

Hee-Seop Choi, batting eighth in the Dodger lineup, got their first hit of the game in the third inning when he hit a tap to second base that was fumbled and charitably called a hit. Cesar Izturis followed with a legitimate line single to right but nothing came of the threat.

Jose Valentin and Ricky Ledee singled in succession with two out in the fourth. Jason (J.R.) Phillips got his first hit in Dodger Blue, a single to right center, to knock in the run and break a 13 inning scoreless streak.

It was only the second inning in the last 24 that the Dodgers had scored.

St. Louis bounced back with a swinging bunt that went for a single and a surprise squeeze bunt that Phillips threw into right field as the tying run scored.

D.J. Houlton took over for Erickson and allowed a pair of singles to open the sixth. Phillips threw the trailing runner out on an attempted steal but a 15-foot tap down the third base line was unplayable and the Cardinals led 2-1. A fifth straight hit off Houlton scored a third run.

The Cardinals nailed Houlton for a leadoff single -- their 10th one-base hit of the game -- in the seventh and with two out, manager Jim Tracy brought in lefty Kelly Wunsch to face a Cardinal left-handed hitter. He retired the side by picking the runner off first base.

Phillips got his second hit of he game in the seventh and with one out moved to third when Oscar Robles bounced a single over the Cardinal first baseman. Pinch-hitter Mike Rose singled him in to cut the lead to 3-2.

Jason Repko forced pinch-runner Joe Thurston at second before Hee-Seop Choi boomed a long, high shot to right field that cleared the fence for a three-run homer and a 5-3 Dodger lead.

Eric Gagne made his third appearance of the spring in the top of the eighth and promptly hit the first batter. Looking more comfortable on the mound with each appearance, Gagne got a fly to left, a swinging strikeout and despite a wild pitch that moved the runner to second, collected a second 'K' to end the inning.

Pinch-hitter Henri Stanley slugged a long home run over the right field berm in he last of the eighth off reliever Julian Tavarez for a 6-3 margin.

Yhency Brazoban took over in the top of the ninth and earned the save although he struggled a bit, giving up a walk, a stolen base and an error at second on the steal that moved the runner to third. The runner scored on a single.

Robles then made the defensive play of the game, going deep into the hole at short on a grounder, diving to glove the ball and then nailing the runner at first from his knees. Brazoban fanned the final hitter to close the game out.

Phillips was the only Dodger with two hits, 10 other individuals dented the 'H' column in the scorebook.

Dodgers Blue Book--The Dodgers did not take batting practice before the game, meeting instead with Donald Fehr, Players Association representative. … Eldon Auker, the last man to strike out Babe Ruth, threw out the first ball (underhand, as he pitched in the 1930s) to catcher Dave Ross. Auker arrived on the field riding in the same golf cart as former commissioner of baseball Fay Vincent. … A wedding was held on the field after the Dodger win. The bride, Janna (last name unknown), wore a Jackie Robinson #42 home jersey and the groom, Eric (last name unknown), wore a Duke Snider #4 road jersey.

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