It Was the Best and the Worst of Times

With a tip of the cap to Charles Dickens, the Dodgers opening day weekend displayed the most unusual hitting attack since the 1930s when every team had a batting average in the .300 range. Los Angeles sprayed hits to all corners of the park -- although again few of them were for extra bases -- and finished the three games against Atlanta with a glittering .345 average.

But the Dodgers collected only five doubles and a home run (Drew), compared to six doubles and six homers by Atlanta, who hit .309 over the three games. The Dodger earned run average compaired favorably to the gross national product of Peru (7.17) and the Braves were not much better.

The attack was staggering. Bill Mueller and Sandy Alomar had three hits each and Jose Cruz added two. That boosted the individual averages to majestic heights. Jeff Kent is hitting .556, Mueller .545, Cruz .538, Jason Repko .417 and Alomar .400. But that was balanced by earned run averages of Hong-Chih Kuo 27.00, Odalis Perez 21.00, Derek Lowe 12.60, Franquelis Osoria and Jae Seo 9.00.

On top of all that, the Dodgers reenacted the 2005 season, with the injury list rivaling Pickett's charge at Gettysburg, in that Kent (hit by a pitch) and Saenz (injured back) had to leave the game. Repko was also hit by a pitch and Loney caught a sharp grounder off his hand. Furcal was later spiked at second base on an inning-ending force play and limped through the final two innings.

The injury gods appeared in the Atlanta fourth inning and it saw a little of everything. After a single, Braves pitcher Horacio Ramirez rolled a bunt down the first base line. Alomar, Saenz and Perez approached the ball as if it was a potential car bomb, finally surrounding with a rush that saw Alomar and Saenz crash into each other as Perez wisely backed off to a safe distance. Saenz left the game and Kent followed in the bottom of the inning.

All the walking wounded are listed as "day to day" but as Vin Scully said, "Aren't we all!"

Los Angeles crafted a four run first inning, the third time in three games that one of the teams opened with four runs. RBI by Drew, Saenz, Mueller and Alomar in the first and a manufactured run by Rafael Furcal (walk, steal, error on throw, sac fly by Cruz) gave the Dodgers a 5-0 lead.

But the wheels came off starter Odalis Perez in the third inning -- also the bumper, fenders and muffler -- and he gave all five runs back.

Perez allowed another pair of runs in the fourth and Lance Carter got a stumbling start in relief and gave up one more for a 8-5 Atlanta margin.

Carter settled down and stopped the Braves through six, then YHency Brazoban added another zero in the seven before the Dodgers, with a convulsive heave, rallied to tie the game.

Actually, they should have put it away in the seventh. Drew picked up a walk, Ramon Martinez (in for Kent), looped a singe to center and it brought up rookie James Loney, in for the injured Olmedo Saenz.

The 21-year-old battled through a nine-pitch at bat before smashing a shot to shortstop that screamed double play. But the ball devoured Edgar Renteria, skipping off his shoulder into short left field as a run scored.

Mueller and Alomar followed with RBI singles to tie the game and Repko was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. However Cody Ross popped to short right and Furcal hit a soft fly to left, ending the Dodgers' final threat.

Osoria needed a global positioning system to find the play and walked three. Wrapped around a single, that was enough for the Braves to add their ninth, and winning run, handing the Braves a 9-8 victory in front of thoroughly chilled 35,292.
  Dodgers           ab r h bi ave
Furcal, SS           4 2 1 0 .286
Cruz, LF             4 1 2 1 .538
Drew, RF             3 2 1 1 .385
Kent, 2B             1 1 1 0 .556
  *Martinez, PH-2B   3 1 1 0 .333
Saenz, 1B            1 0 0 1 .143
  Loney, 1B          3 1 0 0 .167
Mueller, 3B          4 0 3 2 .545
Alomar, C            5 0 3 2 .400
Repko, CF            4 0 0 0 .417
Perez, P             2 0 0 0 .000
  Carter, P          0 0 0 0 .000
  *Ledee, PH         1 0 0 0 .000
  Brazoban, P        0 0 0 0 .000
  *Ross, PH          1 0 0 0 .000
  Osoria, P          0 0 0 0 .000
  Hamulack, P        0 0 0 0 .000
    Totals          36 8 12 7 
    Atlanta         37 9 13 9

  Atlanta     005 300 010-9
  Dodgers     410 000 030-8

  Errors- Atlanta 2, Furcal. Two base hits-- 
Alomar (1). RBI-- Drew (5), Saenz (3), Mueller 2 
(5), Alomar 2 (2), Cruz (1). SF: Saenz; Cruz. 
GIDP-- Alomar. LOB-- Atlanta 8, Dodgers 9. 
SB-- Furcal (1). DP-- Osoria, Furcal and Loney.

  Dodgers       in h r-er bb so era
Perez          3.0 9 7-7  0  3 21.00
Carter         3.0 1 1-1  2  2   3.00
Brazoban       1.0 1 0-0  0  1   0.00
Osoria (L,0-1) 1.0 2 1-1  3  0   9.00
Hamulack       1.0 0 0-0 0 1   0.00
  WP-- Perez, O, Carter. HBP: Kent, Repko. 
Time-- 3:09. Attendance-- 35,292.