Dodgers Lose as Bullpen Implodes

Paraphrasing Kris Kristofferson's Me and Bobby McGee, "Loving Them Was Easy as Believing It Would Never End". The true blue, iron bound Dodger bullpen finally came back to the league Sunday afternoon in Atlanta, using five runs in the seventh to erase a 4-1 L.A. lead and taking the third game of the series 6-4. In addition, Andy LaRoche was recalled from Las Vegas before the game.

Chin-hui Tsao, called to protect the three run lead left him by starter Randy Wolf, had retired 24 straight batters and had a microscopic 0.32 earned run average but coughed up five runs on three hits and a pair of walks, helped by two run-scoring singles allowed by Chad Billingsley who followed him. Billingsley fanned the side in the eighth but it was one inning too late.

Given, the final three runs came on singles that eluded second baseman Jeff Kent. The Braves announcer was perhaps a little rough when he said, "Kent has all the range of a rose bush," but in truth with L.A. leading 4-3 and two out, a ball between he and Nomar Garciaparra seemingly could have been turned into an inning-ending out and two batters later, a ball up the middle was just out of his reach."

However, the Dodger offense was again mired down, scoring a pair of runs in the fifth and seventh innings with all of the damage being done by the 6-7-8 hitters, Andy LaRoche (just up from Las Vegas), Andre Ethier and Mike Liebenthal. The top five in the lineup -- Rafael Furcal, Juan Pierre, Garciaparra, Kent and Luis Gonzalez -- were a collective 2-for-24, with Gonzalez claiming both hits.

Randy Wolf, who was 0-2 with a 9.18 ERA in his last four starts against the Braves, sparkled after a staggering first inning in which four reached base and the only run credited to him scored.

He finished by allowing only six hits and had eight strikeouts and seemed set to get the win. He left with one out in the sixth after three straight singles but Rudy Seanez came in to coax a double play to get out of the mess.

Held to one hit with one out in the fifth, LaRoche doubled on a shot to right that bounced into the stands. It was his first major league hit. Ethier singled to right and LaRoche scored on a sweeping slide as Ethier took second. He scored moments later on Liebenthal's single to left.

After Seanez's heroics in the last of the sixth, the Dodgers tacked two more runs on the board in the seventh. Liebenthal dropped a two-out single in the short center field and Wilson Betemit banged his second pinch-hit home run in two games to give the Dodgers a 4-1 lead.

Betemit has a shot to tie a Dodger record of three consecutive pinch-hit home runs set by Lee Lacy on May 2, 6 and 17. 1978.

The Dodgers were 15-0 in games they lead after six innings.
 Score by innings
Los Angeles	000 020 200-4
Atlanta	        100 000 05x-6

 Dodgers	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	3  0  0  0  .226
Pierre cf	3  0  0  0  .282
Garciaparra 1b	4  0  0  0  .288
Kent 2b	        4  0  0  0  .287
Gonzalez lf	4  0  2  0  .287
LaRoche 3b	4  1  1  0  .250
Ethier rf	3  1  1  1  .276
 Martin ph	1  0  0  0  .314
Liebenthal c	4  1  2  1  .222
Wolf p	        2  0  0  0  .154
 Seanez p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Betemit ph	1  1  1  2  .154
 Tsao p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Billingsley p	0  0  0  0  .000
    Totals	33 4  7 4
    Atlanta	35 6 11 6

 Errors- Kent (5). 2B- LaRoche (1).
HR- Betemit (2). RBI- Ethier (14), 
Liebenthal (1), Betemit 2 (9). CS-
Pierre (4), Furcal (1). LOB- Dodgers
4, Atlanta (11). DP- Furcal and
Garciaparra.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so era
Wolf	        5.1  5  1-1  2  8  4.61
Seanez	        0.2  0  0-0  0  0  3.38
Tsao (0-1)	0.2  3  5-5  2  1  3.97
Billingsley	1.1  2  0-0  1  3  4.76
 HBP- by Wolf. T- 2:57. Att- 35,350.
LaRoche Called Up-- The first-place Dodgers benched Wilson Betemit and his .140 batting average indefinitely and promoted Andy LaRoche, who was hitting .235 at Triple-A Las Vegas with three homers and 11 RBIs. He posted a .175 average with no homers and one RBI in Spring Training. "We decided to try a different angle," said manager Grady Little, who has been patient with Betemit. "We feel confident about what [LaRoche] is going to do here. We'll give him a good opportunity."

LaRoche was drafted by the Dodgers in the 39th round of the June 2003 First-Year Player Draft and entered the 2007 season rated as the 5th best prospect in the Dodger organization, according to LADugout.com. In four professional seasons entering this year, he had a .292 career average with 72 homers and 256 RBI in 377 games. Andy's father, Dave, pitched for 14 seasons in the Major Leagues from 1970-83 and his brother, Adam, plays first base for Pittsburgh.

To make room for LaRoche, the Dodgers placed Marlon Anderson on the disabled list with a (wink, wink) sore elbow, calling to mind outfielder Jay Johnstone who thoughtfully came up with an injury when a roster switch was in the works. Little said Anderson was sent back to Los Angeles for an MRI.

Anderson took over left field for the slumping Andre Ethier last year and slugged seven homers in the stretch run. He was 4-for-22 this year, all the hits coming as a pinch-hitter.

Dodger Blue Notes--Brad Penny (3-0, 1.64 ERA) opens the four-game series tonight (Monday) against his former team, the Florida Marlins, and Ricky Nolasco (1-0, 5.68).

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