Four in Ninth Helps LA Dump Mets

VERO BEACH, Florida-- The Dodgers, trailing 2-1 into the last of the ninth, exploded for four runs to give rookie Jon Melon his first win of the spring and Los Angeles their second victory of the exhibition season. Larry Bigbe ran his RBI total to seven in the first three games of the season.

It was a cool day with a stiff wind blowing in toward the plate and the combination favored the pitchers.

The Dodgers sent mostly rookie position players on the road for this game; the only starter with much major league playing time was catcher Russell Martin. Others included CF Jason Repko, DH Olmedo Saenz and SS Ramon Martinez.

They did get strong pitching from starter Brad Penny, who allowed a hit, three walks ad a hit batsman in his two innings but kept NY scoreless. Hong-Chih Kuo gave up a hit and two walks but wriggled out of trouble before Eric Stults gave up a home run in the sixth to break the scoreless tie.

Dario Veras surrendered another run after the Dodgers tied the game 1-1 on -- who else? -- Larry Bigbe's fifth single of the year.

The game sailed into the ninth with the Dodgers down by a run before James Loney opening the ninth with a single and Choo Freeman, Bigbe again, Chin-Lung Hu and Tony Abreu drove in runs to make rookie Jon Meloan the winner.

Eric Hull came in to out the Mets in the ninth and gain the save.

Bigbe earned his fifth hit in six trips to the plate and knocked in his seventh run. Andy LaRoche, who made two uncostly errors, and Loney had a pair of hits each.

Andy LaRoche singled for the first Dodger hit in the second inning and Jason Repko doubled inside the bag at third base to lead off the third but nothing came of either hit.

Russell Martin picked 1B Carlos Delgado off first base and a runner at second base in the third inning to kill a potential Met rally.

The Mets loaded the bases in the fifth inning on a two-out walk, a single and LaRoche's second error of the game. However, Eric Stults got RF Shawn Green for the third out on a pop to third to keep the game scoreless after five innings.

In the fifth, Tony Abreu -- who is opening some eyes with his fielding, hitting and speed -- stole second but he was left there.

Matt Kemp made an over-the-shoulder, falling catch on a long wind-blown fly in the last of the sixth to rob CF Lasting Milledge of a hit. Then SS Jose Reyes hit one even further that cleared the fence, wind and all, to break the scoreless fly.

James Loney singled and LaRoche added another with one out in the seventh and when Choo Freeman, hitting for Matt Kemp, walked the Dodgers finally had a serious threat.

Larry Bigbe came off the bench with and tied the game with a scorching single to right. It was his fifth hit of the spring in five times at bat. The ball was hit so hard, LaRoche could not score from second base.

Chin-Lung Hu, taking over for Ramon Martinez at shortstop, then hit into a double play to end the inning with the game tied 1-1.

David Newhan, son of Los Angeles Times Hall of Fame colimist Ross Newhan, collected a sacrifice fly in the last of the seventh to tie the game 1-1 off Dario Veras, the Dodgers' fourth pitcher.

Trailing 2-1 into the top of the ninth, everything fell apart for the Mets.

Loney collected his second single of the afternoon to spark the surprising rally and DH Olmedo Saenz slashed a double into the left field corner. LaRoche walked with none out to load the bases and Freeman then slapped a single to right to tie the game.

That brought up Bigbe and for the first time this young season failed to hit a ball on the screws. However his little bouncer up the first base line drove in the lead run. The runner was safe at the plate because when catcher failed to keep his foot on the plate.

Hu beat out a potential double play ball, driving in the third run of the game and Jackson added a single to drive in the fourth run, allowing L.A. to take a 5-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth.

Eric Hull took over on the mound and closed it out easily after surrendering a leadoff single, earning the save.
 Score by innings:
Dodgers	000 000 104-5
NY Mets	000 001 100-2

  Dodgers	       ab  r  h  bi  
Jason Repko cf	        3  0  1  0  .400  
 Damian Jackson cf	2  0  1  1  .200 
Russell Martin c	2  0  0  0  .000 
 Sandy Martinez c	3  0  0  0  .000 
James Loney 1b	        4  2  2  0  .250
Olmedo Saenz dh	        4  1  1  0  .500  
Andy LaRoche 3b	        3  1  2  0  .429
Matt Kemp rf	        2  0  0  0  .200
 Choo Freeman rf	1  1  1  1  .400
DY Young lf	        2  0  0  0  .000
 Larry Bigbe lf	        2  0  1  2  .833
Ramon Martinez ss	2  0  0  0  .250
 Chin-Lung Hu ss 	2  0  0  1  .250
Tony Abreu 2b	        4  0  2  0  .333
 Wilson Valdez 2b       2  0  1  0  .571
  Totals	       36  5 10  5
  Mets	               31  2  6  2

 Errors-LaRoche 2. 2b hits-Repko, Saenz. 
LOB- Dodgers , Mets . DP- LaRoche, 
Abreu and Loney; Loney unassisted. SB- Abreu.

  Pitching	        in   h  r-er bb so era
Brad Penny	        2.0  1  0-0  3  1  0.00
Hong-Chih Kuo	        2.0  1  0-0  2  0  0.00
Eric Stults	        2.0  2  1-1  0  1  4.50
Dario Veras	        1.0  1  1-1  1  1  9.00
Jon Meloan (1-0)	1.0  0  0-0  1  0  0.00
Eric Hull (sv 1)	1.0  1  0-0  0  0  0.00	
 T- 2:43.  A-6,117,

The Dodgers play a split-squad game today (Sunday), hosting Atlanta and traveling to play Washington.

Remembering Clem-- The Dodgers had flags at half-mast and a moment of silence before yesterday's game in memory of former Dodger pitcher Clem Labine who died March 1. A memorial service will be held Thursday at the Catholic Church in Vero Beach. Saturday the Mets had a moment of silence for Labine, who was well-known by New York fans.

Enough, Already-- Non-roster lefty Matt White pitched 1.1 shutout innings against Washington in the home opener Friday, allowing the crowd of just over 4,000 and opportunity to see a billionaire in action. White bought a parcel of land in Massachusetts from an aging aunt and later discovered that it was primarily rock -- but expensive rock -- and the land had an estimated value of $2 billion. He has been spending most of his off-field time doing interviews with the national media and after the game he said, "Things have been blown out of proportion. I never signed up for this but, hopefully, in 72 hours or so it will all be old news and people will forget about it."

Happy Birthday, Skip-- Dodger manager Grady Little is celebrating his 57th birthday today. Little is entering his second season as the Dodger manager, after guiding Los Angeles to an 88-74 record along with a co-NL West Division title in 2006. The Abilene, TX native has a 276-210 record (.605) in three seasons as a Major League manager, the highest winning percentage of any active field general.

Many Old Friends--The list of Mets' coaches and players with ties to the Dodgers is an large one. Pitchers Pedro Martinez, Jose Feliciano, Chan Ho Park, Guillermo Mota and Duaner Sanchez all played the early part of their careers in the Dodger system as a Major or minor leaguer. Catcher Paul Lo Duca and outfielder Shawn Green were Dodger regulars in the early part of this decade, while infielder Jose Valentin manned third base for Los Angeles in 2005. Hitting coach Rick Down held the same position with the Dodgers in 1999 and 2000 while bullpen coach Guy Conti was the Dodgers' minor league pitching coordinator in 2000. Manager Willie Randolph played in blue from 1989-90 and bench coach Jerry Manuel's son Jerry works in the Dodger front office. Non-roster players Sandy Alomar Jr., Steve Schmoll and Aaron Sele have also logged time in blue.     

Dodger Blue Notes-- The Dodgers have now come to terms with every player on the 40-man roster after signing Wilson Betemit, Yhency Brazoban, D.J. Houlton, Andre Ethier, Russell Martin, Wilson Valdez, Eric Stults, Delwyn Young, Mike Megrew, Andy LaRoche, James Loney and Matt Kemp to one-year deals.  …Former Dodger Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton was in Dodgertown. Sut, after 18 years in the Braves broadcast booth, is now doing color for the Washington Nationals. …Both the Dodgers and Nationals used a designated hitter in yesterday's game. Catcher Mike Liebenthal was the first of many Dodger DHers as the Dodgers have asked visiting clubs to to use a designated hitter in all games at Holman Stadium. …Steve Henson of the LA Times says Randy Wolf will be the #2 pitcher in Milwaukee. The rotation hasn't been announced by Manager Grady Little, but the order of the first four starters was confirmed by two highly placed sources. Schmidt would start the third game, putting him on schedule to start the home opener April 9 against the Colorado Rockies. Penny would make his first start in the opener of a three-game series at San Francisco, then start at home against the Rockies, against whom he was 5-1 last season. Because they have an off day April 5, the Dodgers won't need a fifth starter until the ninth game of the season. Brett Tomko, Mark Hendrickson, Chad Billingsley and Hong-Chih Kuo are the primary competitors for that role. …A private California sports collector has paid a record-shattering $2.35 million for the legendary T206 Honus Wagner baseball card, long recognized by collectors and industry experts as the most famous and valuable baseball card in existence. The Wagner card, which has nearly doubled in price three of the previous four times it has changed hands in the past 20 years, last sold for $1.265 million in 2000. The card once was owned by Wayne Gretzky and Bruce McNall. It also was once the top prize in a national contest conducted by Wal-Mart. It is estimated that only 50-60 examples of the T206 Wagner have surfaced. Numerous myths have been debated as to the reason for its scarcity. One of the prevailing theories is that Wagner, one of the premier players in the history of baseball, insisted that he be paid by the tobacco company for the use of his image, causing the production of his card to be halted. A more common and well-documented theory is that Wagner simply did not want children to be influenced into buying tobacco products just to get a "picture" of him, and thus forced the early withdrawal of his image on this principle.