Dodgers Fumble Away Last Cactus Win

The Dodgers snatched a tie from the teeth of victory in their final exhibition game of the season in Arizona, allowing Milwaukee a pair of runs in the seventh inning, scoring once in the ninth to tie and ending the game so the Dodgers could catch a plane home.

The Dodgers missed a number of chances to put the game away and finally bumbled enough so the Brewers could take a 3-2 lead in the sixth. L.A. had 11 hits, Milwaukee 4.

Rookie Blake DeWitt's sac fly in the top of the ninth tied the game at three each averted the loss.

Brad Penny made his fifth and final start of the spring. Over his first four games he worked 16 innings, allowed eight hits and only a pair of runs to record a microscopic 0.56 earned run average.

Penny was anything but sharp, walking five in his three innings but allowing only one hit. He threw 60 pitches, 32 of them strikes.

Penny, the Dodger ace of the present then gave way to the Dodger ace of the future, Clayton Kershaw in what would probably be the rookie's final innings with the big club in Arizona.

He again demonstrated that, despite his age, he is ready for the Show, by blowing the Brewers away over six innings, allowing a single hit and striking out six.

He had 33 called or swinging strikes over the 50 he launched toward the plate; an exciting mix of fastballs, curves and a change or two thrown in.

Despite all the arguments that he would be better off getting more experience in the minors, he is certainly superior to the proposed fifth starters the Dodgers are still attempting to single out.

The Dodgers scored in the first when Rafael Furcal one-hopped a double off the right field wall and scored when James Loney rapped a single through the right side of the infield.

Penny gave the run back in the bottom of the second with a pair of walks, a wild pitch and then allowed his first hit of the game. It was only the second earned run he had allowed this spring.

Russell Martin doubled to lead off the fifth inning but was still there after Tony Abreu, Blake DeWitt and Delwyn Young were unable to move him along.

The fans were treated to a rare, bunt double by Juan Pierre leading off the sixth. It was a perfect bunt, wide of first base. The first baseman started after it, decided he couldn't get the ball and retreated back to cover first.

By this time, the second baseman determined h had to cover first and that allowed Pierre's bunt to trickle, unvexed as Lincoln would say, into short right field as Pierre zipped into second.

He was bunted to second base by Chin-Lung Hu and Jason Repko, who had to badger his way onto the squad when they left Vero Beach, singled sharply to center to drive Pierre across to break the 1-1 tie.

Kershaw allowed a leadoff double, then retired the next nine men with a stray walk thrown in on during the stretch.

Kershaw walked a man in his third inning of work after striking out two, then picked the runner off first base but Ramon Martinez, in for Loney, dropped the ball when he tried to go to second with it. Unfazed, Kershaw fanned the final hitter to end the innings. His ERA dropped to 0.90.

The Dodgers went into their Keystone Kops routine in the seventh and the Milwaukee fans loved it.

Gary Bennett and Martin walked but Bennett was picked off second when Abreu turned to bunt, then pulled off the pitch.

Martin stole second but Abreu looked bad missing a change and DeWitt bounced to short to end the threat.

The benevolent Dodgers gave the Brewers a perfect chance in the bottom of the inning when Jason Repko lost a ball in the sun that bounced off his body or his arm or something other than his glove and was somehow called a double with none out.

A single up the middle between Seanez's legs tied the score.

(This is one of the reasons that no one really pays much attention to spring training statistics.)

The runner stole second despite a pitchout when Bennett threw high to second. He then stole third without a throw.

At this point, one expected to see Stan Laurel or Oliver Hardy come out of the dugout to play defense.

The third stolen base of the inning (again without a throw) put men on second and third with one out.

With the infield in to stop a run, a bouncing ball to second was fumbled by Abreu as the lead run crossed the plate and the Dodgers had to settle to the out at first.

Seanez then left the mound trailing 3-2, either in disgust or by request, and Scott Proctor took over on the mound. Pierre ran down a long drive to mercifully end the inning.

Delwyn Young slugged a long double in the top of the eighth leading off, thought about stretching it into a triple, but (correctly) had second thoughts, knowing he would have to face third base coach Larry Bowa if it didn't work out. He eventually reached third but died there.

Proctor brought a burst of sanity to the proceedings with a 1-2-3 eighth.

The Dodgers final gasp, in the top of the ninth, resulted in Martinez grounding a single to center leading off but Bennett struck out.

That brought up the National League home run leader, Andre Ethier and he slashed a single to left field to put the lead run on base.

Tony Abreu, 0-for-3 in the game, also singled to left and Martinez stopped at second. The left fielder fumbled the ball but it was too late to score and the bases were loaded.

DeWitt's long fly to center allowed Martinez to score and Ethier tagged and moved to third but Young bounced out to leave the game in a 3-3 tie.

Ramon Troncoso was selected to work he last of the ninth. The first pitch was lined toward center but shortstop Chin-Lung Hu moved to his left and caught as the large contingent of Dodger fans in the park shouted "Hu, Hu".

Troncoso issued a walk with two outs and lefty Mike Myers came in looking for the third out and found it with a four-pitch strikeout.

What was left of the 9,481 fans in attendance were less that delighted when it was announced that the game would end at that point, and emphasizing the name "exhibition game."

The Dodgers flew back to Los Angeles after the game and had a day off Wednesday (today) before playing the Angels in Anaheim, then returning home for three games against Boston.
 Score by innings
Los Angeles	100 001 001-3
Milwaukee	010 000 200-3

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Pierre lf	4  1  1  0  .192
Furcal ss	2  1  1  0  .352
 Hu ss	        1  0  0  0  .286
Kemp rf	        2  0  0  0  .313
 Repko cf	2  0  1  1  .351
Loney 1b	2  0  1  1  .253
Jones cf	2  0  0  0  .229
 Kershaw p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Bennett ph-c	2  0  1  0  .286
Martin c	2  0  1  0  .222
 Seanez p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Proctor p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Ethier ph	1  0  1  0  .369
Abreu 3b	4  0  1  0  .208
DeWitt 3b	3  0  0  1  .239
Penny p	        1  0  1  0  .400
 Young rf	3  0  1  0  .170 
 Troncoso p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Myers p	0  0  0  0  .000
  Totals 	33 3 11 3
  Milwaukee	31 3  4 3

 Two-base hit- Furcal (2), Martin
(5). RBI- Loney (4), Repko (4),
DeWitt (8). S- Ju. SF- DeWitt.
SB- Martin (1), Loney (1). LOB- 
Los Angeles (6), Milwaukee (9).

 Los Angeles	 in  h r-er bb so  era
Penny  	        3.0  1  0-0  5  3  0.95	
Kershaw	        3.0  1  0-0  1  6  0.90
Seanez	        0.2  2  2-2  1  0  7.71
Proctor	        1.1  0  0-0  0  0  1.93
Troncoso	0.2  0  0-0  1  0  3.52
Myers	        0.1  0  0-0  0  1  9.39
 WP- Penny. T- 2:51. Att- 9,481.
Abreu the Man
Manager Joe Torre said that Tony Abreu would be the opening day third baseman. He mentioned that Chin-Lung Hu has not had enough innings at the position.

"It's fine," Torre said. "I think we got enough of an idea of what we need to do. Like I said, he certainly won't be a regular guy over there."

Home Sweet (New) Home
Tony Jackson of the L.A. Daily News is delighted with the Dodger moved to Arizona.

He said: "The Dodgers' brief Cactus League stint this spring after saying goodbye to Vero Beach, Fla., has been something of a phenomenon.

Each of the first five games here sold out, and although today's finale against Milwaukee in the Maryvale section of Phoenix isn't expected to sell out, the crowd for every game the club has played here has been full of people in Dodgers jerseys, caps and T-shirts.

Many of them were visitors from Southern California, a demographic the club was hard-pressed to attract in Florida.

"It's tremendous," said Charles Steinberg, the Dodgers' executive vice president for public relations and chief marketing officer. "What we're seeing is the reason for the move. There are families of Dodgers fans who could never really make the trip to Vero. Well, they can make the trip to Arizona."

Rumor Central
Rumor of the Day, March 25:
Marcus Giles was told by the Colorado Rockies on Sunday that he would not be making the team. However, according to the Rocky Mountain News, the Los Angeles Dodgers have expressed interest in the veteran infielder due to their growing injury concerns with Jeff Kent (hamstring), Andy LaRoche (torn wrist ligament) and Nomar Garciaparra (broken bone in right hand).

51s' to Change Name
Todd Dewey of the Las Vegas Review Journal reports that the team will take on a new name after the 2008 season.

The Stevens Group purchased the franchise and Derek Stevens, CEO, said, "We're the 51s for the 2008 season, but after that, I'll be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of the 51s name.

"We want to come up with another name, and that's something we'd like to target for the 2009 season." Stevens said he plans to let the public pick the new name.

A new scoreboard featuring a 15-by-36-foot video board is in the works and a new left-field party deck that can accommodate 100 people and has its own bar will be featured this season. Stevens will institute the "Golden 10-run rule" at 51s games. Every time the 51s score 10 runs at home, all in attendance will receive a free shrimp cocktail at the Golden Gate."

The 51s will open the season with an eight-game homestand, starting April 3 against Salt Lake.