Are the Pieces Starting to Fall Into Place?

Manager Grady Little tried to tell everyone. "I'll be happy with a 7-7 start," he said and most of us rolled our eyes. He attempted to point out that when you gather up a group of players, no matter how talented, it will take some time for each of them to find their place and keep the machine running smoothly. We have seen flashes of that this season and perhaps, just perhaps, it is all starting to fall into place.

Little has protected outfielder J.D. Drew [a like he is a delicate flower and [b like he is the key to the Dodgers offense and on both counts, the manager is right. He said that giving him the day off before an open date would refresh him and bring him out swinging.

The evidence is clear: Drew homered and drove in three runs, boosting his average to .340 and his RBI total to 13. Odalis Perez pitched six innings of four-hit ball for his third consecutive victory, the Dodgers bullpen was up to the job and Los Angeles defeated the Diamondbacks, 6-3, Friday night at Dodger Stadium.

Drew has reached base safely in each of the 14 games he's played. Along with his .340 average, he has an on-base percentage of .444.

Perez, mixing his fastball and his breaking ball with more consistency, struck out four and walked one in equaling his 3-0 start of last season. Three relievers held on to the lead and Danys Baez worked the ninth for his fourth save in five chances.

The Dodgers banged out 11 hits, including four extra-base hits (doubles by Bill Mueller, James Loney and Rafael Furcal), equaling their top performance since a 15-hit afternoon April 13 in Pittsburgh.

They also stole three bases, two by Kenny Lofton and one by Jason Repko. Surprisingly, this ties them with Seattle for the Major League lead.

All this after they had scored only 11 runs in their previous six contests (1.8 runs per game) and not surprisingly four defeats.

Drew has been especially productive, reaching base safely in each of the 14 games he's played so far. He's hitting .340, with an on-base percentage of .444. He started very slowly in 2005, had his wrist broken half way through the season and played less than half the games, hitting .286 with 15 homers and 36 RBI.

His home run leading off the sixth was the first of his three RBI, with a two-run single in the seventh, part of a three-run rally, gave Los Angeles a 5-2 margin.

Perez is now 3-0 as he was in April last year and he pointed out after the game, "For me it's just being healthy." Perez said,

The Dodgers jumped out 1-0 when Jeff Kent's sinking single to left drove in Kenny Lofton from second. The Dodgers second run came in the fourth on consecutive doubles by Bill Mueller and James Loney, who ironically may be starting to hit now that Nomar Garciaparra is about to reclaim his job at first base.

The Diamondbacks scored in the second and closed to 3-2 in the seventh with a run off reliever Tim Hamulack. Takashi Saito (Sammy, his teammates call him) got out of the seventh and worked a scoreless eighth to keep his ERA at a tidy 0.00. Lance Carter gave up a walk, a double and a run in the ninth and Little waived in Baez to nail things down.
  Score by innings
Arizona010 000 101-3
Dodgers100 101 30x-6
  Dodgers    ab r h bi ave
Furcal, SS    4 1 1 1 .231
Lofton, CF    4 2 2 0 .217
Drew, RF      4 1 2 3 .340
Kent, 2B      4 0 1 1 .232
Cruz, LF      3 0 0 0 .281
  Saito, P    0 0 0 0 .000
  Robles, PH  1 0 0 0 .000
  Carter, P   0 0 0 0 .000
  Baez, P     0 0 0 0 .000
Mueller, 3B   3 1 1 0 .327
Loney, 1B     4 0 2 1 .225
Navarro, C    3 0 1 0 .205
Perez, P      2 0 0 0 .000
  Hamulack, P 0 0 0 0 .000
  Repko, LF   1 1 1 0 .340
    Totals   33 6 11 6 
    Arizona  35 3  8 3 

  Error- Lofton. 2B hits- Mueller (5), 
Loney (1), Furcal (2). HR- Drew (2). 
RBI- Kent (7), Loney (3), Drew 3 (13), 
Furcal (2). SB- Repko (5), Lofton 2 (3).
LOB- Arizona 9, Los Angeles 4.

  Dodgers       in h r-er bb so era
Perez (W, 3-0) 6.0 4  1-1 1  4 4.22
Hamulack       0.2 2  1-1 0  2 1.93
Saito          1.1 1  0-1 1  2 0.00
Carter         0.0 1  1-1 1  0 5.87
Baez  (S, 4)   1.0 0  0-0 0  1 0.00
 Balk- Perez. HBP-1 by Perez.
T- 3-01. Att- 44,294.