Dodgers Hold on, Stop Twins 8-7

VERO BEACH, Fla.-- You got the pitching Thursday night in a 2-1 loss to Florida and Friday the offense had their turn, cracking out 15 hits to win 8-7 despite four Minnesota homers. James Loney and Andre Ethier had three hits each and Larry Bigbe knocked in a pair with a single and a triple.

Loney's three hits gave him six in succession, counting three the night before, and boosted his average to an eve .500.

Manager Grady Little noted "Loney is much more mature and is certainly swinging the bat well. He's hard to ignore."

When asked if Loney had secured a starting spot on the team, Little hedged a bit, saying "You have to look at the big picture and you can't base your entire opinion on spring numbers.

"If that had been the case, our 16-game winner last year wouldn't have made the team."

He praised Bigbe, who boosted his average to 474 and knocked in his team-leading ninth run. "He's a big-league player and is making a good showing."

In the meantime, Ethier's three hits quietly boosted his batting average to .526, top mark on the team.

Los Angeles built up an 8-2 lead in the fifth when Bigbe led off with a triple into the right field corner and scored when the throw to third went into the seats.

But that was the final hit in the Dodgers' bag and the final 12 went down in order.

Minnesota then mounted a counter-offensive teeing off on rookie Scott Elbert for three homers wrapped around a single and suddenly it was a game again

Eric Hull came in to shut the Twins down and although the Twins scored an unearned run on Matt White in the eighth, another rookie Jon Meloan earned a save with a scoreless ninth that included a pair of strikeouts.

Russell Martin and Loney singled in the first and Jeff Kent knocked in the first run of the game with an error accounting for another. Ethier's double made it 3-0.

After starter, and winner, Randy Wolf served up a two-run homer in the second, Loney made it 4-2 with a double in the bottom of the inning.

Olmedo Saenz, Ethier and Wilson Betemit singled to load the bases in the third before Bigbe's two-run single and Tony Abreu's RBI single boosted the lead to 7-2.

Wolf worked three strong innings, making only one mistake that was hit over the left field fence. Chad Billingsley didn't allow a run before giving the ball to the unfortunate Elbert who was high-wild and when he got the ball down, Minnesota hit it out of the park.

LaRoche picked up his fourth error of the season, although the ball took an erratic hop over his shoulder on the hard ground ball. Wilson Valdez, playing left field, threw wildly to allow the unearned run in the seventh.

The Dodgers jumped above the .500 mark with the victory (6-5) and the Twins slid to 2-8.
 Score by innings	
Washington	020 004 010-7
Dodgers	        313 010 00x-8	
 Dodgers	                ab  r  h  bi ave
Choo Freeman cf	                5  0  0  0  .167
Russell Martin c	        4  2  2  0  .250
 Sandy Martinez c	        1  0  0  0  .100
 Ken Huckaby c	                0  0  0  0  .000
James Loney 1b	                3  1  3  1  .500
 Fernando Tatis 1b		1  0  0  0  .188
Jeff Kent 2b			2  1  1  1  .400
  Damian Jackson 2b		2  0  0  0  .077
Olmedo Sanez dh		        3  1  1  0  .429
  DY Young dh			1  0  0  0  .267
Andre Ethier rf			4  1  3  1  .526
  Matt Kemp rf			0  0  0  0  .133
Wilson Betemit 3b		3  1  1  0  .118
  Andy LaRoche 3b		0  0  0  0  .222
Larry Bigbe lf			3  1  2  2  .474 
  Wilson Valdez lf		1  0  0  0  .348
Tony Abreu ss			4  0  2  1  .389 
  Totals	               37  8  15  6		
  Washington	               37  7  11  6	

  Errors- LaRoche (4), Valdez (3). 
2b hits- Ethier (1), Loney (3), 3b- 
Bigbe (1). RBI- Kent (3), Ethier (3), 
Loney (3), Bigbe 2 (9), Abreu (4). 
LOB- Dodgers 6, Twins 9. DP- Abreu 
and Loney; LaRoche, Jackson and Tatis.

  Dodgers	        in   h  r-er bb so  era
Randy Wolf (1-0)	2.2  4  2-2  1  3   3.00
Chad Billingsley	2.1  1  0-0  0  1   0.00
Scott Elbert	        0.1  4  4-4  0  1  19.29
Eric Hull	        2.2  2  0-0  1  1   0.00
Matt White	        1.0  0  1-0  1  0   0.00
Jon Meloan (sv 1)	1.0  0  0-0  1  2   0.00
 WP- Elbert. HBP- by White. T-2:47. A-4,174.
Short Trial-- Third base prospect Andy LaRoche, making his left-field debut Thursday night, fielded the two singles that were lined into his territory flawlessly. But when he was hit by a pitch in the seventh, the Dodgers took him out after first-base coach Mariano Duncan reported to the bench that LaRoche's wrist had swelled. "It feels fine," LaRoche told Ken Gurnick of "It hit the bone but nothing's broken. No X-rays."
"When you put a player in a new position they seem to hit balls at them right away," said manager Grady Little. "I don't know if it's coincidence or the baseball gods. Sure enough, they hit a couple but he handled them well."

Dodger Blue Notes-- Rafael Furcal took an batting practice right-handed Thursday and might try hitting left-handed Friday. Furcal, who also played catch, hasn't played in a game since the exhibition opener because of a sore right shoulder. …Little said the first round of cuts were likely sometime shortly after Saturday's split-squad games. …Wilson Betemit had an .077 spring average after Thursday game against Florida. But since he is out of minor-league options, and the Dodgers believe that he is capable of developing into a dependable power hitter, and they aren't willing to risk losing him on by waivers. …Lefty Joe Beimel, who complained about elbow pain after his last outing, declared himself "fine" after Thursday's appearance against Florida. …Former Dodger Wilton Guerrero is now scouting for Los Angeles in the Dominican and former Dodger minor league player Tony Mota is the new batting coach for the Dodgers Dominican team. When asked if he was following his father's footsteps, he told Bill Shelley, "Perhaps some day I will take his place with the Dodgers." …In other transactions, the Dodgers re-signed outfielder Luke Allen. Allen signed with L.A. in 1996 as a free agent and was traded to Colorado in 2003 for Jason Romano. Released by Colorado he signed as a free agent with Pittsburgh, then signed with the Angels early in 2005 and with the Boston Red Sox later in the same year.