Dodgers Win a Close One to Open the Spring

VERO BEACH, Florida-- The Dodgers hit Atlanta starter Jorge Sosa hard -- literally -- in the first inning, bouncing a single off his leg and drilling him in the seat of the pants, making him so guns-shy he threw the ball into right field, costing the Braves two runs in the first inning. Another error in the second allowed another Dodger run and five relief pitcher's protected the slim margin to record the first win of the season in the home opener.

Brad Penny drew the opening start and allowed only a single run in his two innings, getting four ground balls and allowing three hits, a performance good enough to earn him the victory with help from his friends, both on the pitching staff and by a sparkling double play started by outfielder Matt Kemp in the eighth inning, nailing the tying run at home.

Kenny Lofton singled and doubled in two trips and scored twice. Jose Cruz and Bill Mueller each had an RBI single.
Score by innings:                 r  h  e
Atlanta             010 000 010-- 3  8  3
Dodgers             210 000 00x-- 2  6  0

Dodgers              ab  r  h  bi
Kenny Lofton cf       2  2  2  0
  Jason Repko cf      2  0  0  0
Willie Aybar 2b       3  0  0  0
  Ramon Martinez 2b   1  0  0  0
Nomar Garciaparra 1b  2  1  0  0
  Olmedo Sanez 1b     2  0  0  0
Ricky Ledee rf        3  0  1  0
  Tim Hamulak p       0  0  0  0
  Joel Guzman ph      1  0  0  0
Jose Cruz lf          3  0  1  1
  Kelly Wunsch p      0  0  0  0
Bill Mueller 3b       2  0  1  1
  Andy LaRoche 3b     1  0  0  0
Dioner Navarro c      2  0  0  0
  Sandy Alomar c      1  0  0  0
Oscar Robles ss       2  0  0  0
  Tony Abreu ss       1  0  0  0
Brad Penny p          0  0  0  0
  *Pat Borders ph     1  0  0  0
Aaron Sele p          0  0  0  0 
  *Andre Ethier ph    1  0  0  0
Denys Baez p          0  0  0  0
Lance Carter p        0  0  0  0
  *Matt Kemp rf       1  0  0  0
  Totals             31  3  6  3
  Atlanta            33  2  8  3

  2b  hits-Lofton.  LOB--Dodgers 4, Braves 8.  
DP- 2 (Aybar, Robles, Saenz; Kemp, Alomar). 

  Dodgers       in   h  r-er  bb  so
Penny (w, 1-0)  2.0  3  1-1   0   0
Sele            2.0  1  0-0   0   2
Baez            1.0  0  0-0   1   0
Carter          2.0  0  0-0   0   2
Hamulak         1.0  2  1-1   2   0
Wunsch (sv 1)   1.0  1  0-0   0   1
  HBP-Penny 1. T--2:10.  A--3,479



Kenny Lofton got the first Dodger hit of the exhibition season in the bottom of the first, smashing a shot off the foot of pitcher Jorge Sosa for a single. With one out, Nomar Garciaparra hit Sosa in the, um, backside, with a shot, then Sosa threw the ball away at first. Jose Cruz singled for the first run and Bill Mueller singled in another.

They scored another run in the second when Lofton doubled and scored on a two-out error on a Willie Aybar ground ball.

Aaron Sele took over in the third and allowed a pair of hits in the third but was saved by two spectacular stops by Garciaparra at first base. He added another scoreless inning in the fourth.

Denys Baez worked the fourth inning, walking one and throwing a double play ball to get out of the inning.

Lance Carter retired all six men he faced in the sixth and seventh innings.

The Dodgers 14-straight batters without a hit streak ended when Tim Hamulak took over in the eighth. He gave up a pair of hits, sandwiched around a walk. A second walk, forcing in the Braves second run, That called for a visit to the mound by pitching coach Rick Honeycutt.

A fly ball to right field was gathered in by Matt Kemp and he threw a lightening bolt to home plate on the fly where Sandy Alomar put the tag on the runner trying to score. A foul pop ended the inning and got Hamulak off the hook.

Kelly Wunsch came in to close the game out and gave up a one-out single. But he got a strikeout and a fly to left field to earn the first save of the spring.

Dodger Blue Book-- Former shortstop Joel Guzman, who homered in his last game as a shortstop Tuesday with a long home run, becomes a left fielder Wednesday after returning from the intersquad game in Jacksonville. Jayson Werth's unavailability while he heals from wrist surgery has given the youngster a chance. …Outfielders Jose Cruz and Ricked Ledee left after the game to play for Puerto Rico in the WBC . … Quote of the Day-- "I don't think this guy is going to be a good pitcher; I think he's going to be a great pitcher. The body style. The look on his face when he's on the mound. The way he walks around in a major league clubhouse. And his stuff." Manager Grady Little said about 21-year year old RHP Chad Billingsley. …Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda, the winningest pitcher in the history of the International League's Montreal Royals franchise, will be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame on June 24.

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