Misplays and Home Runs Cost Dodgers in Colorado

DENVER, Colorado--A not-so-funny thing happened to L.A. was the were on the way to winning the third game of the series. Opening with their best imitation of the 1953 Boys of Summer, cracking out eight hits and five runs in the first two innings before they went into a deep freeze, collecting only three hits and no runs over the final seven innings. The pitching imploded, two unearned runs scored in the fifth, two HRs came in the sixth and a three-run homer in the seventh was the crusher.

Missing starters Cesar Izturis, Jeff Kent, Jose Valentin, Milton Bradley, J.D. Drew as well as Ricky Ledee and Paul Bako, Manager Jim Tracy has been forced to patch as best he can and the club has staggered.

But Oscar Robles, Jason Repko, Jayson Werth, Olmedo Saenz, Antonio Perez, Mike Edwards, Cody Ross and C Mike Rose jumped into a solid lead and coasted into the fifth before things started to unravel.

Derek Lowe made his 19th start of the season and his second against the Rockies. He was 5-9 coming into the game and a remarkable 74% of Drew's putouts this season have been on ground balls. Through the first four innings, only Rockie to hit the ball out of the infield was Brad Hawpe who had doubled in the second. But Lowe was betrayed by his defense in the fifth and gave up back-to-back homers in the sixth.

Giovanni Carrara came in give up a run of his own and after Kelly Wunsch was announced to face slugger Todd Helton with two on and the score tied 5-5, but apparently suffered a twisted ankle in the bullpen to the field and he was replaced by rookie Franquelis Osoria who in effect ended the game by throwing a three-run homer.

Great Start
Oscar Robles opened the game with a single and scampered to third, just beating the throw with an old-fashioned hook slide, on a single to center by Jason Repko. Jason Werth went 0-2, then worked a walk to load the bases.

Olmedo Saenz hit into what Tom Lasorda calls the pitcher's best friend. The address? 6-4-3 D.P. Lane. However Robles scored from third and for the second straight game the Dodgers jumped out in front in the first inning.

Mike Edwards singled to center, the ball whizzing right past the head of Rockies' pitcher Joe Kennedy. Cody Ross slammed the first pitch into right center for an RBI double and with one out, Lowe made it 3-0 with another double to about the same place.

Robles (RBI) and Repko got their second hit of the game before Werth hit into a force at second. Saenz made up for his double play in the first with a line single to left, scoring Robles and giving the Dodgers their eighth hit and a 5-0 margin. All of the damage had been done against Joe Kennedy, the Rockies' opening day pitcher, who had been rumored to be heading to Los Angeles in a trade. If the game was a showcase of his talents, the first two innings might have been one of the worst in the history of the game.

He settled down after the second inning and threw three scoreless innings, leaving for a pinch-hitter in the fifth having thrown 101 pitches and allowed 10 hits and five runs.

The Dodgers staggered in the fifth when Hawpe walked and Jorge Piedra hit a bouncer to Perez at second. He flipped the ball to Robles, who dropped it but L.A. got a break when the second base umpire ruled he got the force out and lost the ball transferring it into his throwing hand. The television replay seemed to indicate that Robles never had control of the ball.

Desi Relaford then hit a text-book double play ball to Perez but it bounced out of his glove and both runners were safe. J.D. Closser made the Dodgers pay with an RBI single to left. Pinch-hitter Eddie Garabito hit yet a third ball to Perez and again he fumble it but got a force out, allowing a second run.

On a hit-and-run play, Saenz scooped up the ball but couldn't get to first before the runner. The fourth ground ball to second was fielded cleanly by Perez but he nearly overthrew Saenz at first.

Both runs the Rockies scored were unearned but the Dodger lead was cut to 5-2.

Jason Repko beat out a bunt in the top of the sixth, giving him a career-best four hits and boosting his batting average from .206 to 229. He quickly stole his fourth base and Werth walked but Saenz popped out to end the inning.

Helton hit a mammoth shot into the third deck in right field, setting a new Rockies career record (259), breaking a tie with Larry Walker. The ball traveled nearly out of the Mountain Time Zone -- an estimated 448 feet. It was the 26th ball hit into the third deck in the 10-year history of Coors Field.

That pesky Hawpe then cut the Dodger lead to one with a drive that was caught by a fan standing in the first row of the left field stands. Suddenly the Rockies had five hits and four runs.

The Dodgers had gone cold after Repko's single in the fourth inning. They had sent 20 to the plate and had only a double by Perez and another single by Repko over that span.

Lowe walked Closser to open the bottom of the seventh and Giovanni Carrara trotted in from the bullpen to take over. A sacrifice moved Closser to second. Sullivan was hit by a pitch and Aaron Miles singled to tie the game with Helton coming to the plate.

The Dodgers replaced Carrara with rookie righthander Franquelis Osoria after lefthander Kelly Wunsch was unable to pitch after rolling his ankle in the bullpen as he prepared to enter the game.

Helton enjoyed the move to Osoria, hitting his second home run into the right field seats for a three run homer -- this one a trifle shorter at 442 feet.

Four runs in the seventh, game, set and match.

Osoria got the two outs that the Dodgers were looking for earlier but much too late.

In a season that the star-crossed Dodgers had lost games by nearly every way imaginable, they perhaps lost this one on the bullpen clay.

Dodgers went quietly in the eighth and ninth.

The bitter loss dropped the Dodgers to 40-45 with three games left against the Astros in Houston before the All-Star break.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Missing All-Stars Cesar Izturis and Jeff Kent, outfielders J.D. Drew and Milton Bradley and third baseman Jose Valentin, Manager Jim Tracy was left with catcher Jason Phillips as the senior position player in terms of Major League service Wednesday night. Coming into the season, Phillips had only two years and 34 days, one week more than Choi. And oddly enough, the team scored four runs in the first inning, equaling their largest single-inning output in more than seven weeks. Steve Henson of the L.A. Times pointed out that starting pitcher Brad Penny made more than the eight position players combined. …Jason Repko and Jeff Kent have been hit by a pitch six times this season. L.A. is tied with Washington for the most hit batsmen (42) in the National League, second in Major League baseball only to Washington, who has 46. … Antonio Perez has hit .394 (29-for-74) and Oscar Robles .394 (13-for-33) have been hot on the road this season. J.D. Drew is hitting .331 in Dodger Stadium …Dodger bench coach Glenn Hoffman celebrated his 47th birthday, but not on the coaching lines. Hoffman was hit by a line drive during batting practice in Kansas City June 14 and is still experiencing some dizzyness and has switched positions temporarily with Bench Coach Jim Lett. …The Rockies loaded the lineup against Lowe in the final game of the series with seven of the eight position players either hitting lefthanded or switch-hitting.