L.A. Drops Home Finale, Top 3.6 Million Fans

The sign on the clubhouse door could have read: "Tryouts tonight 7 p.m." Of course, it wasn't that formal but tryouts, indeed, were the order of the night as the Dodgers performed for the final time in front of a remarkably loyal crowd of 45,053. Manager Jim Tracy used six different pitchers, picking and putting as if it were a World Series game. Sadly enough, the results were much the same as Arizona collected a three-game series sweep with a 3-2 win and the Dodgers stumble toward the finish.

The crowd, exploding the supposition that Dodger fans were front-runners, pushed home attendance to 3,603,646, the second-highest total in franchise history and just 5,235 shy of their 1982 total. Despite the team's worst overall record in 13 years, this is the first season since 1983 that every home game drew at least 30,000.

Just like World Series play, records were set but unfortunately, most of them were of the undesirable type.

The loss dropped the Dodgers record to 70-89 assured them of their worst record in the last dozen seasons. The Diamondbacks won the season series 13-5 after going 3-16 against Los Angeles last season. They were 8-1 at Dodger Stadium, becoming the first team to beat the Dodgers eight times in Los Angeles in one year since the club moved to the Big Orange in 1958.

The Dodgers have lost as many as seven home games to one team in the a season 11 times, but only twice over the last 35 years. The Diamondbacks, who lost 111 games last year, have won eight straight over Los Angeles. L.A. will finish fourth (or lower) for the first time since 1993.

And the club, traditionally strong in Dodger stadium, finished their home schedule 40-41, only their fifth losing record at home since moving from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958.

Oh, about the game.

The Dodgers didn't get a hit until the fourth inning and only had for during the night, giving them 10 for the three-game set. Dioner Navarro's double to center field scored Jose Cruz, who had walked, for a 1-0 lead.

Odalis Perez smothered the Diamondbacks, allowing one hit over four innings and retiring 12 of his 14 batters but Franquelis Osoria allowed a leadoff single in the sixth, Hong-Chic Kuo gave up an RBI double and another single. Giovanni Carrara, the third pitcher of the inning, allowed a sac fly and Arizona led 2-1.

Jonathan Broxton, who has been feast or famine in his season in The Show, struck out the side in the eighth but also gave up a single, two walks and a hit batsman that translated into another DBack run.

Jason Repko singled in the seventh for the Dodgers second hit of the game. Oscar Robles got the third in the eighth and Navarro's third homer of the season made it 3-2 in the ninth.

After the game, Jim Tracy made a telling statement that may have marked the end of his tenure as the Dodger skipper.

He told the Los Angeles Daily News "If there's any disappointment from my end, it's that several of the components from a year ago were not in the clubhouse in Vero Beach when we got to spring training," Tracy said. "Familiarity with one another goes a long way from a success standpoint. When you look at a number of these clubs that have won their divisions, there are similarities from year to year."

Tracy is under contract for one more season, but has an escape clause that he can exercise next week. He's asked the team for a contract extension, presumably to better protect himself from being the potential fall guy if another season such as this one unfolds. If he doesn't get it, there's every reason to believe he'll be managing somewhere else next year.

He stopped short of criticizing the club Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta assembled during the offseason, but conceded even without the injuries, this year's team would have been hard pressed to win the 93 games last year's team won.

DePodesta said he shares the same disappointment as his manager. "There were a number of players who we tried to retain that we weren't able to," DePodesta said. "Some players just decided to go elsewhere. I know a lot is being made of the changes we made, but a lot of them were not willful on our part."

Dodger Blue Notes-- Jeff Kent might be shut down for the rest of the season, although it probably hinges on him hitting his 30th home run. …Third baseman Andy LaRoche was named as the organization's 2005 Branch Rickey Minor League Player of the Year. Starter Greg Billingsley was honored as the organization's Pitcher of the Year. LaRoche, playing for Class A Vero Beach and Double-A Jacksonville, batted .305 with 30 homers, 94 RBI and 95 runs scored. Billingsley, in 28 games (26 starts) for Jacksonville, was 13-6 with a 3.51 ERA. He allowed only 116 hits in 146 innings while striking out 162. …Penny shut down: Brad Penny will not pitch again this season. Tracy scratched the right-hander from his scheduled start Saturday with of tightness in his forearm. …Derek Lowe (12-14, 3.63 ERA) will start at San Diego tonight in the first of a season-ending three game series.

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