That's Our Choi

An old joke ran something like, "They all laughed when he sat down at the piano." Dodger fans laughed -- and cringed -- when Hee-Seop Choi was included in the trade for Dodger icon Paul Lo Duca and when the big first baseman hit .161 with no home runs and six runs batted in over 31 games, the critics chortled.

But when Choi slammed home runs 10-11-12 in the first, fourth and fifth innings to key a 4-3 win over Minnesota, the silence in the critics corner is deafening, broken only by a smiling Paul DePodesta, who had told everyone he would be comfortable using Choi at first base.

You could bet Minnesota wasn't all that comfortable with Choi at first after he collected his sixth roundtripper of the three game series.

The big first baseman hit home run #8 in the second game of the Minnesota series, the shot coming in the last of the ninth with the score tied 5-5. Saturday night he bagged a pair, nearly put his name on the (very) short list of players who hit the ball completely out of Dodger Stadium. The ball traveling some 458 feet. If you are a believer in progressive mathmatics, it seems a pity that Minnesota didn't stick around for another game since Choi would be scheduled to hit four out of the park.

The pyrotechnics helped rookie D.L. Houlton win his second game of the season without a loss. The Rule V bargain allowed seven hits over six innings while striking out eight.

He showed the big Dodger Stadium crowd something when he worked out of trouble in the second and third innings. He reached the 101 pitch count (70 strikes) with his final strikeout in the sixth.

Manager Jim Tracy, with an open day Monday, crafted the final three innings perfectly, using Giovanni Carrara, Kelly Wunsch and Duaner Sanchez for an out each in the seventh; Yhency Brazoban for a shutout ninth and Eric Gagne to close it out with a two-strikeout ninth.

After J.D. Drew banged a home run after Choi's second shot, the Dodger seemingly had perfected the solo home run, smacking eight consecutive one-run shots during the Minnesota series, the first winning series since early in the season.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Cesar Izturis had considerable stiffness in his right hamstring before the Sunday game and he thought it might take a week before he would be back in playing share. The Dodgers, of course, hoped he would be ready for the first game of the Kansas City series on Tuesday. … Odalis Perez will work a rehab start in Las Vegas on Wednesday and barring complications will probably work two more before he returns to action. …Milton Bradley's will make the Kansas City trip and hopefully may be ready to play in a week. … Paul Bako also will make the trip and will catch a bullpen session Tuesday to test his knee. …Elmer Dessens started Sunday for Las Vegas in his second rehab appearance. …The Dodgers will open a long road trip Tuesday in Kansas City for three games. Jeff Weaver will start the first game. Los Angeles then moves to Chicago to meet the White Sox, back to San Diego and Anaheim for three games each.