Dodgers Lose Furcal, Repko, Game

VERO BEACH, Fla.-- A freak accident on the first play of the game saw shortstop Rafael Furcal go down with a sprained ankle. Center fielder Jason Repko followed in the third, suffing a pulled hamstring. Starter Brett Tomko was battered by the Orioles and L.A. managed only four hits.

The rest of the afternoon evolved into the horrid old gag, "Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, what did you think of the play?"

Stan Conte, Director of Medical Services/Head trainer called Furcal's injury a "moderate high sprain" and that since he has suffered one before on the same ankle, this one might -- might -- heal faster.

"The first thing we did is determine that there was no fracture," he said. But he added: "No matter what I say and no matter what he says, he ankle will say when he is ready."

Until the swelling goes down, it is 100% medical and there is no way to even estimate the length of time the Dodgers 2006 Most Valuable Player, who is hitting .412 this spring, will be out of action.

The accident happened on a high fly ball to left-center field. Repko came in on the ball and Furcal went out as it descended between them.

"I think I could have caught it," Furcal, now on crutches, said in the clubhouse. "We bumped into each other, I jumped to keep from running into him and when I landed the ankle turned over.

"It was no one's fault -- just playing hard baseball."

Only two innings later, Repko ran into right-center to field a drive by catcher Ramon Hernandez and the hamstring on the leg opposite the groin pull he had just recovered from suffered a pull.

"It was high on the other leg; a separate thing all together but it an injury that is notoriously slow to heal but, again, we'll know more about it tomorrow," Conte said.

Manager Grady Little noted, "We are very thankful Furcal's injury is not more serious and that he will get back in a shorter period than it might have been."

Little also said he was confident that they have personnel who will fill in until Furcal and Repko come back. "We have options," he said.

Tomko Battered-- Brett Tomko was hit hard in his four innings, allowing six hits that included two homers, a triple and three doubles.

With the Dodger offense struggling -- they have scored three times in the last 45 innings -- the game was in the bag after three innings

Oriole Outfielder Nick Markakis -- not exactly a familiar name to Dodger fans -- put on an excellent Stan Musial impersonation, slugging a solo homer in the first, a two-run homer in the third and an RBI triple in the fourth.

The pyrotechnics produced four runs batted in and when Tomko departed he was trailing 6-0.

Meanwhile, back at the Dodger bat rack, Nomar Garciaparra doubled in the first, Wilson Valdez, who replaced Furcal at shortstop, doubled in the third and Larry Bigbie collected the Dodgers' third hit and third double in the seventh.

Baltimore's Steve Trachsel worked six innings and allowed just two hits, leaving with his second win of the spring and -- surprisingly to the large crowd on hand -- a bloated 5.29 earned run average.

Tomko took a 1.80 ERA into the game but it swelled to 5.14 and, coupled with Hong-Chih Kuo's meltdown against the Mets the night before, continued to scramble the battle for the fifth starter's position.

Joe Mays was also hit hard and often, giving up six hits and two runs in three innings. Joe Beimel and Chen-hui Tsao added zeros on the board.

Todd Williams, who pitched for the Dodgers in 1995, put the lid on the game with a scoreless ninth but allowing James Loney a single that boosted is average to a team-leading .432.

The Dodgers, with their fifth straight loss dropping them to 13-11, travel to Jupiter today (Thursday) to meet the Florida Marlins with opening day starter Derek Lowe making his fifth start of the spring.
 Score by innings
Astros	113 102 000-8
Dodgers	000 000 000-0

 Dodgers	       ab  r  h  bi  ave
Rafael Furcal ss	0  0  0  0  .412
 Wilson Valdez ss	4  0  1  0  .358
Russell Martin c	2  0  0  0  .243
 Sandy Martinez c	1  0  0  0  .059
Nomar Garciaparra 1b	3  0  1  0  .286
 James Loney 1b	        1  0  1  0  .432
Jeff Kent 2b	        3  0  0  0  .296
 Fran Lizarraga 2b	1  0  0  0  .000
Luis Gonzalez lf	2  0  0  0  .346
 Joe Mays p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Olmedo Saenz ph	1  0  0  0  .333
 Andy LaRoche 3b	1  0  0  0  .195
Jason Repko cf	        1  0  0  0  .333
 Larry Bigbie cf	3  0  1  0  .364
Andre Ethier rf	        2  0  0  0  .300
 Larry Barnes rf	1  0  0  0  .250
Wilson Betemit 3b	3  0  0  0  .195
 Joe Beimel p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Chen-hui Tsao p	0  0  0  0  .000
Brett Tomko p	        1  0  0  0  .000
 Matt Kemp lf	        2  0  0  0  .209
    Totals	        31  0   4  0
    Orioles	        39  8  12  8    

 Error- Kent. 2-base hits- 
Garciaparra (1),  Valdez (4), Bigbe (2). 
LOB-Dodgers 7, Orioles (8). 

 Dodgers	in   h r-er  bb  so  era
Tomko (0-1)	4.0  6  6-6  2  2  5.14
Mays	        3.0  5  2-2  0  1  4.85
Beimel	        1.0  0  0-0  0  1  3.86
Tsao	        1.0  0  0-0  0  1  3.38
 HB- by Tomko. T- 2:40.  Att- 6,367.
Tough O-fer-- Third base prospect Andy La Roche, hitting and fielding in wretched luck all spring, took an 0-for-4 in the box score during the night game against the Mets. But behind those cold numbers is the fact he hit four balls right on the screws: a smash on the ground to third and was thrown out; a drive against the fence in left field that was caught, a bullet to the third baseman that was nearly a double play and a monster shot to dead center that was run down at the track. When asked about it, he said the right thing, "That's baseball, next time I might get four hits." A writer mentioned he needed a chicken bone for his bat (a la Bull Durham) but told him he perhaps had a substitute that might work. With Andy's permission, he carefully rubbed it on his game bats. We'll keep an eye on his results and report how the application worked (or didn't work).

Cactus Attendance-- The 14 teams training in Arizona is up 15.5% and is on a pace to break the all-time attendance record of 1.27 million set in 2005. The Giants and Cubs are are the top draws, with the Mariners, Angels and Diamondbacks filling out the top five. The Chicago White Sox (5,615 -900 less than 2006) and Colorado (3,516) train in Tucson along with Arizona. The Orlando Sports Journal reported that spring training in Florida for the 18 teams could top a record 1.6 million this season. Average attendance has been 5,921. Vero Beach has averaged 4,872 over 12 games. The five top Cactus attendance marks:
 team	             games 	   ave  
San Francisco	        10	 10,546
Chicago Cubs	        10	 10,210
Seattle Mariners	12	  7,601
Anaheim Angels	        11	  6,598
Arizona DBacks	        11	  6,533
Dodger Blue Notes --Tony Abreu, who jammed his shoulder in a game against the Cardinals, has been cleared to play immediately. …Brad Penny, who suffered pain in the front of his pitching shoulder, will throw today on the side and if he is OK, will start against the Mets Monday. …The Cubs sent former Dodger OF Roger Cedeno to the minors. …Former Dodger second baseman/center fielder Juan Samuel is the Baltimore third base coach.

Quote of the Day-- ""I'm very concerned with a number of people out there, there is a lot of assuming going on, maybe way too much assuming, that they are going to make the club." --Manager Grady Little.