Dodgers Move Back to the Future

The Dodgers played the first 10 games of the season in the 1950s mode- slugging home runs and outscoring their opponents. But in the past five games they have reverted to the Sandy Koufax-Don Drysdale era of play- tight defense, strong pitching and scratching out a couple of runs anyway they can. The Dodgers had lost three of four games on the homestand, scoring a total of five runs. The Dodgers held a hitters-only meeting before the game and whatever was said, it helped.

The Dodgers pulled out a 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs, manufacturing the winning run in the last of the ninth and while the actual names involved were Kenny Lofton and J.D. Drew, one could visualize Maury Wills drawing the walk, stealing second and scoring on a single by Tommy Davis in the ninth.

They weren't wearing throwback flannel uniforms but Walter Alston would have recognized the style of play immediately when in the ninth inning, with both teams having scored a single run and put five hits on the scoreboard, centerfielder Kenny Lofton worked a seven-pitch walk.

He stole second base and J.D. Drew lined a shot into right field to drive in the winning run and give reliever Takashi Saito his first Major League victory.

Derek Lowe contributed a gritty performance, his best of the short season, allowing one run over seven innings and working out of a number of precarious situations. Saito, who was a non-roster invitee when spring training started and has worked his way into a major role out of the bullpen, fanned four of the final six batters.

Los Angeles scored their first run in about the same manner in the fifth, using a bunt single by Rafael Furcal and an RBI double by Drew, who finished the evening with a .327 average.

In the ninth, a good deal like 1963-64-65-66, the 38-year-old Lofton manufactured the win out of a strong pair of legs. He worked a seven-pitch walk. After drawing a couple of throws to first, he had the Cub pitcher's moves figured out and slipped into second base as if he was 24 years old again and his early-season calf sprain was just a momentary ding.

"Just as long as people understand me," he told Ken Gurnick of "I play the game hard, I run hard, I do everything I can to help the team win. I always believe that speed is a key to the game. A lot of people overlook it. They don't look at speed guys as important. We're just as important as power hitters."

In a season that have had some complaining about the large number of home runs, the Dodgers are short in that department. And while the 'Moneyball' era is over, the base on balls in still a very important part of their arsenal.

Lowe overcame a crisis in the sixth when rookie first baseman James Loney booted Juan Pierre's grounder. One out later, Derrek Lee slammed a shot down the line that Bill Mueller at third could only keep from zinging into the left-field corner, putting runners on first and third.

It may not be all that pretty, but it's vintage Dodger baseball and it looks like it will be around all season.
  Score by innings
Chi Cubs  000 000 100-1
Dodgers   000 010 001-2

  Dodgers    ab r h bi ave
Furcal, SS    5 1 1 0 .228
Lofton, CF    4 1 1 0 .133
Drew, RF      4 0 2 2 .327
Kent, 2B      4 0 1 0 .250
Ledee, LF     2 0 0 0 .176
 Repko, PR-LF 0 0 0 0 .326
Mueller, 3B   0 0 0 0 .354
Loney, 1B     2 0 1 0 .200
 Saenz, PH-1B 1 0 0 0 .357
Navarro, C    4 0 0 0 .200
Lowe, P       3 0 0 0 .000
Saito, P      0 0 0 0 .000
 Cruz, PH     1 0 0 0 .294
    Totals   30 2 6 2
    Chicago  33 1 5 1  

  Errors- Loney. 2B hits - 
Lofton (1), Drew (3). RBI- 
Drew 2 (10).2-out RBI- Drew 2. 
S- Repko. SB- Lofton (1). 
CS- Mueller (1). LOB- 
Chicago 6, Los Angeles 11.

  Dodgers      in h r-er bb so era
Lowe          7.0 5 1-1  1  6 4.50
Saito (W,1-0) 2.0 0 0-0  0  4 0.00
 HBP- Loney. T- 2-42. Att- 37,342.
The Look of Things to Come?-- The Los Angeles Times reports and a Dodgers spokesperson confirmed, that the club has been contacted by officials from the city of Glendale, Ariz., a Phoenix suburb, about moving its spring-training operations to a proposed two-team facility there, possibly in 2008 or 2009. The Dodgers have trained in Vero Beach, Fla., since 1948. "We are routinely approached by individuals wanting to do business with the Dodgers, and this falls into that category," Camille Johnston, the club's senior vice president for communications told the Times. The Chicago Tribune reported in Monday's editions that the White Sox, who train in Tucson, were in discussions with Glendale about moving to the as-yet-still unbuilt facility, and that the Dodgers were believed to be the other team. It is the strongest indication yet that the Dodgers, the only team west of Houston that still trains in Florida's Grapefruit League, are, as the rumors that swept Dodgertown this spring hinted, on the verge of moving to Arizona's Cactus League.

Dodger Blue Notes-- The Dodger returned from the road last week hitting over .300, scoring nearly seven runs and 12 hits per game. But in the five games since, they have managed just seven runs on 23 total hits while batting .152 as a team. But Manager Grady Little said there's no reason to panic over a four-game batting slump. "We hit before and we'll hit again," he said. The only players in the starting lineup with averages higher than .250 heading into Tuesday's action were Bill Mueller (.354) and J.D. Drew (.311). Leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal was hitting .231. Rookie James Loney was .182. Dioner Navarro .222. Kenny Lofton .091. …After missing Monday night's game with a sight concussion, second baseman Jeff Kent was back in the lineup Tuesday night. …Reliever Yhency Brazoban underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction Tuesday, with Dr. Ralph Gambardella and Dr. Frank Jobe transplanting a tendon from Brazoban's left forearm to replace a torn ligament in his elbow. …Little indicated that Garciaparra, disabled with a strained rib cage muscle, will probably soon start a Minor League rehabilitation assignment, the last step before he is activated. …The Dodgers announced they will team with former pitching star and current Spanish-language broadcaster Fernando Valenzuela to host children's groups from the local community to designated 2006 Dodgers home games as part of the Los Amigos de Fernando program, presented by Cacique and Las Palmas. …Brad Penny (2-0, 1.50 ERA) starts for the Dodgers in Wednesday's (tonight) series finale Chicago.