Dodgers Run Over By Speeding Red

LOS ANGELES, California-- One of the many sayings in baseball goes this way: bats and gloves are occasionally absent but speed shows up every night. While the Dodgers heard the patter of little feet but it wasn't a feel-good thing as Cincinnati literally stole one from them Wednesday night when Ryan Freel, a 29-year-old outfielder in his third season, swiped five bases, including two in the ninth inning that led to the winning run in a bitter, 7-6 loss.

The "Moneyball" philosophy downplays the value of stolen bases -- rather the detrimental effect of a caught-stealing -- but throw five steals into any close game and you have a deal-breaker.

Freel was nearly a one-man band, going 3-for-4 and setting a Cincinnati record with five stolen bases that could have been six and tied the post-1900 Major League record but Ken Griffey, Jr., lined out to left as Freel slid into third base in the first inning.

His last two steals against catcher Jason Phillips set up the winning run after he was walked with one out in the ninth by Yhency Brazoban (2-6). Freel, who finished with the first five-stolen-base game in the 124-year history of the Reds, then stole second and third, then scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly.

Starter Jeff Weaver was chased during a four-run seventh. He allowed a two-run, pinch-hit homer, a single and a stolen base by Freel, who then scored on a double that KO'ed Weaver. Wilson Alvarez gave up an RBI single to Griffey, who had homered earlier, that made it 6-4.

But one-out singles by pinch-hitter Hee-Seop Choi and Cesar Izturis set up a game-tying single to center by Milton Bradley to tie it at 6-all.

The Dodgers built a 4-1 lead in the second inning, on Jeff Kent's RBI double, Olmedo Saenz's two-run homer and Cesar Izturis' sac fly.

Saenz crushed a drive just inside the left field pole and into Dodger Stadium's second deck for his 10th homer. He is only the 15th player in the ballpark's 44-year history to reach the loge level.

But the game was won by speed, not strength. Catcher Jason Phillips has thrown out only 12 of 82 base stealers and there have been 85 stolen bases total against the Dodgers.

Phillips is only part of the problem. Runners got huge jumps on Brazoban and Weaver Wednesday night as well as previous starters Lowe and Perez.

And the word is on the street that Odalis Perez and Derek Lowe are also slow to the plate, inviting larceny by anyone with good speed.

The loss dropped the Dodgers (46-55) five games behind first-place San Diego, who ended an eight-game losing streak.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Outfielder Jayson Werth sat out because of a sore left knee. He was examined by Dr. Frank Jobe and had a small amount of fluid drained. …GM Paul DePodesta has talked to a number of teams about trades, but at the present time there are more buyers than sellers. He noted that there are a couple three-team deals in the talking stage but that they depend on a first trade agreement before the second part of the package can come together. …Rumors circulated that this was perhaps Weaver's last start as a Dodger. The Baltimore Orioles have inquired about trading for the right-hander, who is in the last year of a contract that pays him $9.25 million this season. With agent Steve Boros, it is assumed that an increase in his contract would be a part of any deal. The Yankees and other teams have asked about the availability of left-hander Odalis Perez and right-hander Derek Lowe, but DePodesta said an offer would have to overwhelm him to break up the starting rotation. …For the first time all season, the Dodgers' top brass -- owner Frank McCourt, his wife, Jamie, and son Drew along with DePodesta and his top advisors, Kim Ng and Roy Smith sat together in the dugout club seats. …Rookie Jason Repko entered July batting a season-low .185. But after an ugly 4-for-41 June, Repko started to turn things around at just the right time, when J.D. Drew broke a bone in his wrist July 3 and Repko was asked to start 19 of the next 22 games. Repko was 3-for-5 with two runs and an RBI on Tuesday and added his 11th double Wednesday to raise his July average to .304 (21-for-69) with 11 RBI while adjusting to the eighth spot in the lineup. …The results from the MRI on Jose Valentin's throwing elbow showed "nothing significant," Manager Jim Tracy said, and the switch-hitter returned to Las Vegas to continue his rehab and play left field. …Odalis Perez is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his last two starts, striking out 10 in 14 innings while walking only one. The southpaw says there is one simple reason for his renewed success, he is now healthy. … D.J. Houlton (4-3, 5.68 ERA) will face the Reds today in the final game of the four-game series.