Choi Slugs Walk-Off Homer to Beat Twins

When last we left the Dodgers and the Twins, Sandy Koufax was throwing laser beams and winning his final World Series game while Sweet Lou Johnson was hitting the foul pole for a game-winning home run for a 2-0 win in the seventh game of the 1965 World Series. The two clubs met for the first time since that historic series and hulking Hee-Seop Choi put his name in the guest book with a two run homer in the first and a game-winning homer in t he ninth.

Choi handled the start and the finish of the game, while Brad Penny, who also came with Choi in last July's much-maligned trade with Florida, took over during the middle innings.

Penny struggled early in the game as the Twins pounded his curve but when he switched to his fastball, he retired the last nine batters he faced, and, like many Dodgers starters recently, put a "no decision" behind his name in the books. He combined with relievers Duaner Sanchez, Yhency Brazoban and Eric Gagne to set down the final 21 Twins in order, with Gagne earning the win on Choi's heroics.

The Dodgers moved to 2 1/2 games out of first, the closest it's been since May 19, after winning five of its last six. The Twins are a solid club, one that ESPN's Peter Gammons has anointed as the 2005 World Series winner.

Penny perhaps didn't get the win but he is expected to be $25 million richer sometime today when he signs a new contract with the Dodgers.

Choi struck his homer on the first pitch from left-hander Terry Mulholland, a former Dodger reliever, drilling the ball off the right field foul pole. It was only Choi's 13th at-bat against a left-hander this year. It was his eighth home run of the season, but only the second of his career off a lefthander. He is now hitting .327 off southpaws.

There was a bit of kismet in the decision to allow Choi to hit against Mulholland. The Dodgers had already used their three right-handed reserves, Olmedo Saenz, Mike Edwards and Jason Repko, when the ninth rolled around.

Choi ended May in an 0-for-22 slump that dropped his average from .308 to .254. He was only 3-for-19 in June until his first-inning home run Friday night. 46,713 Dodger Stadium fans, who booed him last September as the poster boy of the Lo Duca trade to Florida, has become enamored with the 6-5 Korean and they chanted his name after his game-winner.

Although Choi drove in three runs, 37-year-old Jeff Kent caught the Twins off-guard with a delayed stead in the sixth inning with the Dodgers a run behind. The throw to second went directly through to the centerfielder and Kent went right to third base. A wild pitch tied the game moments later.

1965 team honored--The Dodgers celebrated the 40th anniversary of their 1965 world championship with a special ceremony at Dodger Stadium with members of that team on hand, including outfielders Willie Davis, Tommy Davis, "Sweet" Lou Johnson, first baseman Wes Parker, infielder John Werhas and shortstop Maury Wills. In addition, Patsy Brewer represented her late husband Jim, a relief pitcher with the 1965 Dodgers, and Dee Crawford represented her late husband Willie, an outfielder. The Dodgers won the National League pennant in 1965 with a 97-65 regular-season record, including a 50-31 mark at Dodger Stadium. They put together a 13-game winning streak from Sept. 9-30 and winning 14 of their last 15 games. Minnesota was the site of the first two games of the Fall Classic, and the host Twins bested Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax to take a 2-0 series lead. The underrated Claude Osteen, Drysdale and Koufax allowed Minnesota only one run to take a 3-2 lead. The Twins evened the series with a win at home, then Koufax, helped by a Lou Johnson home run off the left-field foul pole, pitched a 2-0 shutout to nail down the Dodgers their fourth world title in franchise history and third since moving to Los Angeles.

Dodger Blue Notes--The Dodgers are concerned about Milton Bradley, eligible to come off the disabled list Tuesday, because he still can't swing a bat. Bradley tore a ligament in his right ring finger May 29 and the injury has not improved. Surgery seems to be the next logical step. The rest of the walking wounded include: Odalis Perez (sore shoulder), who threw a 41-pitch bullpen session Friday afternoon, used all his pitches and afterward and was pleased afterwards; Paul Bako (knee sprain) might return next weekend, possibly followed a few days later by Ricky Ledee (strained hamstring). Wilson Alvarez (shoulder) received a cortisone shot Friday and along with Elmer Dessens (shoulder) will throw a bullpen session this weekend. …D.J. Houlton was chosen over fellow rookie Derek Thompson to start Sunday's game against the Twins. Houlton made his first Major League start last Saturday against Milwaukee, allowing one run on four hits in 5.1 innings. He will be pitching on seven days' rest. …The Dodgers are hosting the first Women's Initiative and Network (WIN) event of the season, an All Girls Softball Clinic today. The clinic will feature an appearance by vice chairman Jamie McCourt, as well as Dodgers Eric Gagne, Oscar Robles and Manny Mota, National Pro Fastpitch players and Luchy Guerra, the Dodgers' assistant director of player development. …University of Tennessee's Luke Hochevar, the Dodgers' top draft pick earlier this week, is one of three finalists for the Roger Clemens Award, which honors the best pitcher in college baseball. The righthander lost the opening game of the Super Regional against Georgia Tech Friday, balking in the winning run in a 2-1 contest. …Rob Schneider, Jimmy Kimmel and Molly Sims are among the celebrities taking the field in the Los Angeles Dodgers' annual Hollywood Stars Game today. The celebrity contest, inaugurated by superstar concession Danny Goodman 47 years ago, will see the stars will compete in a softball game, with an short outfield fence to (hopefully) provide home runs. Fans will be invited to sit on Dodger Stadium's outfield grass and warning track to get a better glimpse of their favorite Hollywood stars. …Derek Lowe gets the start Saturday night after eight strong innings against his hometown Tigers in his last start.