But in front of 40,000+ fans, Tomko -- who was booed unmercifully last season while working mostly in relief -- finally pitched in a game this season and one that meant something for the first time in six months. He hadn't pitched in a game since he went two innings against the Angels on March 31.
With Manager Grady Little looking for four or five innings, and with an extra arm in the bullpen (Chin-hui Tsao) just in case, Tomko worked his finest game in Dodger Blue since arriving from San Francisco last season. He held the Rockies to one hit and struck out nine batters.
Tomko had retired the first 11 batters he faced, helped by strong defensive play by Wilson Valdez, until hitting Garrett Atkins with two outs in the fourth.
Tomko allowed his only hit when center fielder Juan Pierre couldn't run down Matt Holiday's double to right-center leading off the fifth. Tomko recovered by striking out the side. "I felt really strong, but I didn't pitch full-speed," Tomko said. "When I pitch like that, I have more control of my offspeed pitches. Whether it's starting or relieving, I just wanted to pitch well. The satisfaction for me is pitching a good game."
As sparkling as the effort was, he didn't get the win.
Holding on to a paper-thin 1-0 lead generated in the first inning when catcher Russell Martin singled, stole second and score on a Nomar Garciaparra single, Tomko handed the ball to starter nee reliever Chad Billingsley who seems as uncomfortable in relief as Tomko did last season.
Billingsley served up a two-out, RBI single to Yorvit Torrealba in the seventh to tie the game 1-1 but the Dodgers managed to come up with one more run in the eighth and held on to win.
Joe Beimel (1-0), who earned the win, threw a bases-loaded double play ball to slugging Matt Holiday in the bottom of the eighth, starting a pitcher-to-home-to-first double play to preserve the tie.
Martin had a sweet game. He gunned down speedy Willy Taveras trying to steal second base on a pitch-out. Martin has thrown out four of six potential base stealers, knocked in one run and score the other.
In the bottom of the same inning inning, Martin's sacrifice fly to left field off Byung-Hyun Kim brought Wilson Betemit, who had walked and moved to third on Juan Pierre's single, home from third. Takashi Saito then pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two, for his fourth save in as many tries.
Pierre, Garciaparra and Martin each had two hits, the rest of the Dodgers lineup was shut out.
Little hopes the struggling Dodger offense is about to get a jump-start when. shortstop and leadoff man Rafael Furcal, who has been out all season with a sprained left ankle, returns from his rehabilitation assignment with Inland Empire. After going 0-for-4 as a designated hitter last night he will play shortstop tonight and be re-evaluated
As the swing man in the Dodgers' rotation, Tomko's turn won't come up again until Tuesday night at Arizona because the team is off Thursday.
The 5-3 Dodgers pulled into a second-place tie with San Diego and remained 1 1/2 games behind Arizona in the National League West. They face Colorado again tonight with Derek Lowe at the controls
Score by innings Rockies 000 000 100-1 Dodgers 100 000 01x-2 Dodgers ab r h bi ave Pierre cf 4 0 2 0 .206 Martin c 3 1 2 1 .333 Garciaparra 1b 4 0 2 0 .200 Kent 2b 3 0 0 0 .276 Gonzalez lf 2 0 0 0 .286 Clark lf 0 0 0 0 .400 Valdez ss 3 0 0 0 .438 Ethier rf 3 0 0 0 .143 Betemit 3b 1 1 0 0 .062 Tomko p 2 0 0 0 .000 Billingsley p 0 0 0 0 .000 Beimel p 0 0 0 0 .000 Anderson ph 1 0 0 0 .000 Saito p 0 0 0 0 .000 Totals 26 2 6 2 Rockies 24 1 4 1 2B- Garciaparra (3). RBI- Garciaparra (4), Martin (2). SF- Martin. SB- Martin (2). CS- Pierre. LOB- Dodgers 4, Rockies 7. DP- Beimel, Martin and Garciaparra. Dodgers in h r-er bb so era Tomko 6.0 1 0-0 3 9 0.00 Billingsley 1.1 3 1-1 1 2 8.31 Beimel (1-0) 0.2 0 0-0 1 0 2.25 Saito (sv 4) 1.0 0 0-0 0 2 1.93 Time- 2:25. Att- 40,560.<*M*A*S*H* 4077 Report-- Hong-Chic Kuo has begun throwing on flat ground. He remained back in Vero Beach when the club left nearly two weeks ago and has now returned to L.A. so he could continue his rehabilitation with the Major League training staff. Yhency Brazoban, who underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction last April 18, was scheduled to pitch in his first game Monday in extended Spring Training in Vero Beach. Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said Brazoban will pitch two innings, take two or three days off, then do it again. Depending on the outcome, he could be in an Inland Empire game on a rehabilitation assignment this month. In the best-case scenario, Brazoban could be back with the Dodgers early next month. Brazoban's been virtually setback-free in his recovery from a torn elbow ligament. Matt Kemp suffered what was thought to be a bruise but has not been listed as a slightly separated right shoulder and has been placed on the disabled list. Jason Schmidt suffered only from muscle dehydration and won't miss a start. Rafael Furcal began a minor-league rehabilitation assignment with Single-A Inland Empire (0-for-4 as a designated hitter) and probably will return from his left ankle injury Friday night against San Diego.
Dodger Blue Notes-- Outfielders Andre Ethier, who led the Dodgers with a .308 average last season, and Matt Kemp were locked in what looked like a platoon situation until Kent crashed into the scoreboard. But before his injury, right-handed hitting Matt Kemp got the nod against four opposing left-handed starters and was batting .429. "We aren't in a platoon situation," Manager Grady Little said. "The players will dictate their playing time. Competition? I think that's a good environment for young players." ... Edwin Jackson got his first start of the season for Tampa Bay and allowed two earned runs going into the sixth inning tied 2-2. He got the first two Texas batters, then allowed a pair of singles and left the game. Both runners scored and he was tagged with the loss. He gave up eight hits in 5.2 innings, four earned runs, walked one and struck out four. Not bad at all.