Two Losses Very Hard to Swallow

Two of the Dodgers losses during the recent road trip were terribly hard to swallow -- the 14 inning loss to the Astros and the finale of the three game set in San Diego when the Dodgers led 5-0 after 8 1/2 innings but managed to blow the game.

We jumped on the Grady Little bandwagon early, but these two losses have allowed the first doubts about the manager's thought processes to begin to creep in.

In the Houston loss, both managers exhausted their complete list of non-pitchers in the end of regulation play. Astros manager Phil Garner used his up like it was a spring training game when there is an inexhaustible list of players available and Little followed suit tit for tat. In one move, he used TWO players, one to pinch hit, and then another to pinch run. Both players used pitchers as pinch hitters.

Then the Astros prevailed when their 10th and 11th roster pitchers became inexplicably unhittable. Friends, Holmes and me could have managed either club better than scrap-iron Garner and brother Little. Somebody should have told both of them spring training was over and we were playing for real now.

In the San Diego loss, Little, saddled with woeful reliever Lance Carter, figure with five runs up and only three outs to go, he could give Carter a boost by using him with a win already chalked up. Wrong. We liked Jimmy Carter when first elected, soon to sour on the peanuts cartoon character.

It is hard to say ill of another Southern Baptist, but not in the case of Brother Jimmy. Now we are wondering if Lance Carter is not kin to his Georgia brethren. We liked him initially just like Jimmy, but it is hard to think of another player who has worn his welcome out as fast with the Dodgers. He has been literally and figuratively awful. The next morning, we ran to the wire to see if the Dodgers had dumped a pitcher.

After using Carter led directly to a loss that shouldn't have happened, the Dodgers sent a pitcher out, but it wasn't Carter is was Kuo.

Now the word is Little is a very good manager because he is a players manager.

Hopefully this is so, and maybe you wind up at the end of the season with more wins from contented players - even at the cost of dumb losses along the way. But we will tell you this, gimme a five run lead with only three outs to go, and me and Holmes would've been able to figure out a way to win rather than lose.

Notes-- Catcher Dioner Navarro, who at 21 looks like a guy who never saw a meal he didn't like, still hasn't thrown out a runner, but he was able to steal his first base against Mike Piazza. He may never get another. …Have you noticed Jeff Weaver is up to his old tricks giving up an early five or six runs before you can blink an eye? Gratefully it's now for the cross town Angels rather than the Dodgers. …Have you also noticed that when Odalis Perez doesn't like pitching in a town, he pitches like Weaver? Odalis hates pitching in Houston and in Denver. In both places he cant wait to exit. …Willy Aybar, last year's September phenom, played awful in spring training, earning a trip back to AAA, but ever since the bell has rung, he's hitting a ton. He could push Oscar Robles very, very soon. …And Andre Ethier, coming over in the Milton Bradley trade, is hitting .370 in everyday play and suddenly making Ricky Ledee and or Jose Cruz Jr looking expendable.