Dodgers Lose Nats Series and Valentin

The Dodgers had a 1-1 game explode in their faces Wednesday night and found out that third baseman Jose Valentin would be lost -- even if things went right -- for the next 8-10 weeks after being diagnosed with three torn ligaments in his right knee. The injury occurred in the fifth inning of Tuesday night's 4-2 victory over the Nats, when Valentin scored on a two-run double by Jason Phillips and slid hard into the catcher. Hoping the injury heals itself, no surgery is planed immediately.

Los Angeles purchased the contract of infielder-outfielder Mike Edwards from Triple-A Las Vegas. Edwards' previous major league experience consisted of four at-bats in four games with Oakland in 2003. He singled in his first plate appearance in Dodger Blue during the eighth inning.

Edwards, 28, is one of four players the Dodgers sort through for use at third base in Valentin's absence, including Norihiro Nakamura, Olmedo Saenz, and Antonio Perez, who currently is also on the DL and playing shortstop during his rehab assignment at Las Vegas.

When Edwards got the call, the Dodgers were forced to take Buddy Carlyle off the 40-man roster and designate him for assignment. Carlyle, 27, who had been optioned to Las Vegas, pitched 11 innings in his nine relief appearances in Los Angeles, allowing 10 earned runs and three home runs.

Odalis Perez started for the Dodgers, looking for his fifth win of the season and allowed only three hits and a single run -- a home run -- through six innings.

However, his teammates were still locked in a horrific slump and were finding Nats pitcher Livan Hernandez a tough nut to crack. They touched him for a run in the fourth with a minimum of offence: a single by Cesar Izturis, a stolen base and ground balls by Hee-seop Choi and JD Drew (RBI).

The Dodgers could provide little offensive kick, collecting only one hit in 13 at bats with runners on base.

But Perez's wheels fell off in the seventh inning and the 1-1 tie disappeared.

He quickly gave up a single, a lineout to center, an RBI double, an RBI single and a fourth hit in the inning and he was excused for the night with manager Jim Tracy calling on Wilson Alvarez, making his first appearance of the season.

It wasn't a good one.

Alvarez allowed two runners he inherited to cross the plate and the Dodgers suddenly found themselves down 5-1.

L.A. had few chances to score during the game but the most costly came in the fifth inning with the game tied. Ricky Ledee led off with a single, was bunted to second and Nori Nakamura walked. Perez bunted both runners into scoring position and Izturis walked to load the bases.

Choi, who was 3-for-14 during his career with the bases loaded, made it 3-for-5 with a soft pop to third base on a high changeup.

Trailing by four in the seventh, Ledee doubled and scored after a pair of ground balls, the RBI credited to Nakamura. L.A. got a pair of hits in the eighth but a sparkling play by Vinny Castillo on a shot by Milton Bradley resulted in a force out at second.

Izturis, hitting .330, fouled a ball off his ankle in the eighth inning and had to leave the game with what was called a "slight sprain." Nakamura replaced him at short and made his third good play of the game to start an inning-ending double play.

Steve Schmoll continued his remarkable relief work, pitching the final two innings and allowed one hit and no runs.

Dodger Blue Notes--It must have felt like deja vue all over again for Perez when the Dodgers were smothered at bat and could score only a single run for him. He led the league with 18 no-decisions in 2004 and received the least run support in the National League. Among left-handers, his ERA over the last three seasons has been topped only by Randy Johnson, Johan Santana and Barry Zito. … Choi, hitting .314 at home with his three homers coming in the friendly confines of Chavez Ravine, finished 0-for-4. … Nakamura, who had a brief streak at bat some days ago, has gone back to his in-the-bucket hitting stance and was 0-for-3, including a game-ending double play. He came into he game hitting 60 points under his weight (.147). … Edwards hit .316 with two homers and nine RBI in 38 spring at-bats for the Dodgers, but he struck out 10 times and walked only once. Defensively, he played the corner infield and outfield positions. At Las Vegas, he was hitting .284 with three homers and 17 RBI in 21 games. … Closer Eric Gagne will throw a simulated game on Friday in Cincinnati, then join Triple-A Las Vegas for a three-outing rehab assignment, and he could be activated by next weekend. … Jayson Werth will join Las Vegas for his rehab assignment on Friday and is expected to need at least a week of games before he can be activated. He has had 50 plate appearances in the last five days at extended Spring Training. … Antonio Perez needs to withstand "a series of nine-inning games," according to manager Jim Tracy, before he can be activated from his hamstring injury. … Righthander Elmer Dessens, disabled April 20 with a shoulder bone spur, will resume playing catch in Cincinnati this weekend.

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