Abreu's Homer Kills Snakes

Friday came on a Tuesday this week. James Loney, stymied behind first baseman Nomar Garciaparra for a year and a half, forced himself into the lineup, moving Nomar to third base, a move originally scheduled for Friday. Nearly everything worked last night as Loney had three hits and Tony Abreu slugged a two-out, pinch-hit home run in the 10th to boost the Dodgers into first place in the N.L. West.

And Loney? Well, he was 3-for-5 with a pair of runs scored, a double and a home run plus three runs batted in. After half a season at hitter-friendly Las Vegas, Loney had one homer. Tuesday's shot was his third in 34 official at-bats so far this year. Since getting off the bus in Los Angeles he is hitting .471 (16-for-34).

The Dodgers announced Garciaparra would have a couple days to reacquaint himself with third base. It must have seemed quite familiar because he switched gloves and moved across the infield early, however he only had one chance during he game, scooping a force play out of the dirt. He was 0-for-5 at bat and hitless in 10 times at the plate after missing time with flu-like symptoms.

Garciaparra's move to third base seemed to nail Abreu to the bench. A natural second baseman, he has been posted at third base for some time. But hitting for Jonathan Broxton in the 10th with the score tied 5-5, the switch-hitter boomed a drive deep over the distant center field wall.

The infield switch should make the Dodger offense much more podtent.

The results of which have moved the Dodgers are back in first place, a half-game better than the Diamondbacks and San Diego. They have won six of seven from the Diamondbacks this season

Young Chad Billingsley had a misbehaving curveball, couldn't hold an early 5-2 lead and left after four innings having thrown 78 pitches.

But, riding to the rescue, the bullpen crew saved him with Rudy Seanez, Mark Hendrickson, Jonathan Broxton (3-2) and Takashi Saito holding the Diamondbacks on four hits over the final six innings, without allowing a runner to reach second base.

Saito, who retired the side in order in the 10th for his 21st save, set a major league record by becoming the first pitcher in major-league history to convert 45 of his first 48 save opportunities, one better than Eric Gagne did in his first 48 chances.

Billingsley, without a reliable breaking pitch, allowed three home runs in four innings. He fell behind 2-0 early, but Loney's two-run homer in the second got him even. A homer put Arizona ahead again in the second, then Loney's RBI double in the fourth was followed by Billingsley's two-run double for a 5-3 lead. A pinch-hit homer by Mark Reynolds tied it at 5.

"I left a lot of pitches over the middle, and you can't do that," said Billingsley, who had allowed only two homers previously. "I really didn't have any offspeed pitch, so even when I got ahead in the count, you can't get by with only one pitch."

Derek Lowe (8-6, 3.14) opposes Brandon Webb (7-5, 3.24) tonight in Arizona.
 Score by innings
Los Angeles	020 300 000 1-6
Arizona	        210 200 000 0-5

 Los Angeles	ab h  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	6  0  1  0  .273
Pierre cf	5  0  1  0  .275
Martin c	5  0  2  0  .295
Kent 2b	        5  0  1  0  .263
Gonzalez lf	1  2  1  0  .297
Garciaparra 3b	5  0  0  0  .270
 Saito p	0  0  0  0  .000
Loney 1b	5  2  3  3  .471
Ethier rf	3  1  1  0  .277
 Kemp ph-rf	1  0  0  0  .423
Billingsley p	2  0  1  2  .500
 Seanez p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Betemit ph	1  0  0  0  .000
 Hendrickson p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Saenz p	1  0  0  0  .226
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Abreu ph-3b	1  1  1  1  .278
    Totals	41 6 12 6
    Arizona	39 5  8 5

 Error- Kent (10). 2B- Loney (4), Billingsley (1),
Ethier (14), Martin 16). HR- Loney (3), Abreu (1).
SB- Pierre (24), Gonzalez (4). LOB- Los Angeles 10, 
Arizona (8).

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Billingsley	4.0  4  5-5  3  2  4.01
Seanez	        1.0  1  0-0  0  0  3.53
Hendrickson	2.0  2  0-0  0  4  4.27
Broxton (3-2)	2.0  1  0-0  0  1  3.17
Saito (sv 21)	1.0  0  0-0  0  1  1.41
 HBP- by Billingsley. T- 3:17. Att- 28,734.
Park Gets OK in Arizona-- A new $80 million Spring Training facility to be shared by the Dodgers and White Sox received unanimous approval by the Glendale City Council last night. "It's another milestone in our attempt to move Spring Training to the Glendale-Phoenix area," said Dodgers chairman Frank McCourt, who represented both clubs at the council meeting, as White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf focused on the NBA draft for his Chicago Bulls. The two clubs would move in for the spring of 2009 under 20-year leases. McCourt said the Phoenix City Council will act on the plan next week and the state Sports and Tourism Authority must also approve the details of financing in August, but he said has "no reason to believe" the project won't be approved or finished on time. "It's more than likely, but I don't want to give it odds," he said. "This is a very significant step."

Dodger Blue Notes-- Interim hitting coach Bill Mueller said earlier this week that he is enjoying his new role. But when asked whether he has warmed to the possibility of doing it long-term, Mueller still seemed lukewarm. "For me, family comes first," said Mueller, who got to live at his home in Mesa, Ariz., while in his previous role as a special assistant to general manager Ned Colletti. Roving hitting instructor Bill Robinson and Triple-A hitting coach Mike Easler are believed to be candidates. ...Reliever Chin-hui Tsao, who has been on the 15-day disabled list for a month with a strained right shoulder, will begin a rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Las Vegas today. He is expected to pitch an inning in tonight's game against with Tucson. ...Garciaparra played in his 1,265th game -- and his 35th at third base. ...Russell Martin tripled for the second time this season in the first game of the series in Arizona, after hitting four triples last year. Only five Dodger catchers have had as many as three triples in a season since moving to Los Angeles – Martin, Tom Haller (1968-70), Mike Scioscia (1985, 1992), Steve Yeager (1976, 1983) and John Roseboro (1958-63), who holds the L.A. Dodger record for a catcher with nine triples in 1958, the club's first year in Los Angeles. When Martin starts behind the plate, the Dodgers have a 42-25 record (.627). ...Luis Gonzalez hit his 10th homer on Sunday, giving him 13 consecutive seasons and 16 of his 17 full big league campaigns with 10 or more home runs. Jeff Kent is the active leader, having had double-figures in homers for 16 consecutive Major League seasons. Gonzalez surpassed Arizona broadcaster Mark Grace and Dwight Evans to moved into 97th place, three behind Red Schoendienst.

LA Dodgers Insider Top Stories