D.J. Houlton wins first Major League start

During this traumatic period that has seen Dodger pitchers -- and position players -- placed on the disabled list almost daily, a second rookie has stepped into the rotation to shoulder the responsibility. D.J. Houlton worked into the sixth inning and allowed four hits and a single run as the hit-deprived Dodgers squeezed out a 2-1 win over Milwaukee. Derek Lowe and Jeff Kent collected four the club's hits, with back-to-back homers in the fourth inning providing all the runs.

Houlton is the first rookie to win a game in his initial start since Edwin Jackson in 2003. Kaz Ishii won his first start in 2003 as did Dennys Reyes in 1997 and Pedro Astacio in 1992.

Houlton, a Rule 5 draftee making a spot start in place of a sore-shouldered Wilson Alvarez, entered the game with a 7.41 ERA in 13 mop-up appearances. Many had felt that the Dodgers could not afford to keep him on the roster when an additional bat on the bench might make the difference in a loss or a win.

But Los Angeles would certainly lose his talented arm to Houston, where he was before being drafted, if they attempted to remove him from the major league roster.

He battled his way out of a crucial, bases-loaded-no-outs problem in the third inning after allowing a walk and a pair of singles.

Houlton threw a double play ball on the first pitch to Brady Clark, who is leading the league in hits, and ended the inning by inducing Jeff Cirillo to roll out to second base.

Houlton carried the Dodgers far enough into the game to allow the bullpen -- Kelly Wunsch, Duaner Sanchez, Yhency Brazoban and Eric Gagne, who recorded his fifth save -- to arrived on the scene and smother the Brewers bats on a pair of hits over the final 3.2 innings.

It was the second time in three days that Drew and Kent went back-to-back, and the fifth time the Dodgers have done so this season. The pair had four of the six Dodger hits, with Kent collecting three of them.

Other than Houlton, the story of the game, it was just your normal 2-1 nailbiter circ. 1908. There was never much margin for error as both Houlton and his bullpen and Victor Santos were tough to handle.

In the seventh inning, pinch-hitter Oscar Robles singled for Houlton and with one out, third baseman Antonio Perez struck out on a hit-and-run as Robles was nailed at second to end the inning.

Perez felt he had been hit by a pitch a couple of pitches earlier but the home plate umpire ruled it had hit his bat. Perez continued to argue his case after the strikeout-throw out double play and was ejected. Manager Jim Tracy befell the same fate when he took up the debate.

Milton Bradley, on the disabled list, met Tracy at the top step of the dugout and shook his hand, further displeasing the umpire who pointed out to bench coach Jim Lett that Bradley's actions were inappropriate.

While Bradley was not ejected with the other two, it was pointed out to him that players on the disabled list are allowed to sit in the dugout, so long as they keep their mouths shut. Eric Gagne drew a two-day suspension for critical remarks made to the umpire while he was on the DL.

Dodger Blue Notes--Jim Tracy and his coaching staff received a vote of confidence from general manager Paul DePodesta on despite the fact the club was a disappointing 27-27 at the one-third mark of the season. DePodesta said the staff had done a very good job under the circumstances and that the club does not have a big hole to dig out of. …DePodesta is actively looking for pitching help and probably will be offering minor league talent in exchange. The problem is, there are few teams out of the running at the current time and therefore there are few who are interested in trading major league talent. …As if Odalis Perez hasn't had problems enough, with a sore shoulder that put him on the disabled list, he was hit on the right knee while playing catch with reliever Yhency Brazoban. …Elmer Dessens started and threw 29 pitches for Las Vegas on Friday, allowing two hits, a walk and a run in one inning. He is scheduled to pitch again Tuesday with a higher pitch count. …San Francisco traded former Dodger RHP Matt Herges to the Pirates, …Wilson Alvarez is suffering from tendinitis in his pitching arm. …Brad Penny (2-2, 3.56 ERA) will face the Brewers' in an afternoon game Sunday. Penny has allowed two or less runs in each of his last three starts and has worked seven or more innings in each game.

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