Game Played Backwards With Bad Results

It was like one of those horrid office parties where everyone was supposed to dress up like their favorite rock star. The quiet receptionist shows up with fake tattoos and pierced nose while the office clown turns up as Humphrey Bogart -- everything is backward and everyone is half embarrassed. The result was a 2-1 win for San Francisco, ending the Dodgers modest two-game winning streak.

The Dodgers and Giants announced 17 minutes before Wednesday night's game that starting pitchers Chad Billingsley and Tim Lincecum were pulled out of the start "because of pending inclement weather," and Hong-Chic Kuo and rookie Merkin Valdez would get the call instead.

The National Weather Service listed the chance of rain Wednesday night at 60 percent and both managers decided to save their starters for later in the game, if there was a later.

Kuo, he of the glass elbow, was making his first regular-season appearance since undergoing a fourth elbow operation last summer, had warmed up and was ready to pitch the 10th inning if Tuesday night's 3-2 victory over the Giants had gone extra innings.

He got the change of plans only 15 minutes before the scheduled first pitch and warmed up for seven minutes. After the Dodgers announcement, the Giants decided the idea was a good one and replaced scheduled starter Tim Lincecum with Merkin Valdez.

OK, with both clubs starting reliever, it wasn't long before they both used their scheduled starters in relief. That turned out good and bad -- good for the Giants and bad for Los Angeles. Lincecum started the fourth inning and Billingsley came out of the bullpen for the fifth.

The strange chess game was further complicated by a 1:14 minute rain delay. Kuo gave the Dodgers three scoreless innings and Velez fanned four in two perfect innings for San Francisco.

Manager Joe Torre had an overused pitching staff at his disposal, with closer Takashi Saito unavailable after pitching back-to-back in the first two games and Joe Beimel only available for a batter or two.

So it was no wonder that after the game, the Dodgers purchased the contract of 34-year-old Chan Ho Park and designated infielder Angel Chavez for assignment.

Park, who debuted with the Dodgers in 1994, was almost perfect in the spring (2.41 ERA), but Esteban Loaiza's guaranteed contract tipped the scale in his favor.

A mist that started in the third inning turned to a serious shower about the time the starters finally got into the game.

First baseman James Loney's fourth-inning RBI flare single to left field after walks to Russell Martin and Jeff Kent gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead but Billingsley made it through only one-third of an inning, lost the lead after an error by left fielder Andre Ethier, and then the umpires delayed the game because of rain.

After the rain, Loaiza took over for the Dodgers and Lincecum still on the mound for San Francisco. Winn's bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the sixth broke the tie. Scott Proctor crafted a perfect two innings a Friday's starter Hiroki Kuroda was warmed up and ready to pitch extra innings.

Instead, Torre said Kuroda will make his Friday night debut as scheduled and Billingsley will take his regular turn Monday night in Arizona.

Both clubs seemed confused by the moves and each wasted numerous baserunners. The Giants left 11 on base, the Dodgers nine.

Los Angeles had six hits, half by rookie Blake DeWitt. In the seventh inning a pair of doubles (Loney and DeWitt) and a walk saw them come up empty. The first five Dodger batters in the lineup were a combined 1-for-17 and Russell Martin ran his hitless streak to 0-for-11.

Juan Pierre's nightmare spring continued as he came in to hit in the ninth after DeWitt had lived on an error to open the inning. With one out, he bunted into a fielder's choice and them on an attempted steal he was thrown out as Furcal missed a third strike to end the game.

Bowa Suspended
Fiery Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa was suspended for three games after a Tuesday night ejection and altercation with umpire crew chief Ed Montague, continued his argument on Wednesday with MLB disciplinary chief Bob Watson.

Bowa ignored repeated warnings from Montague not to venture out of the coach's box toward the field during Tuesday's game and he was sent to the showers in what Montague said was, "The dumbest ejection he ever had".

Manager Joe Torre came out of the dugout to attempt to save Bowa but Bowa bumped Torre into Montague "on multiple occasions," which Watson said was the reason for the suspension.

First-base coach Mariano Duncan took over for Bowa on Tuesday night and will handle third-base duties during the suspension. Hitting coach Mike Easler took over for Duncan at first base.

Bowa called the ejection and the rule "ludicrous" among many more stronger things and when asked if he'd comply with the rule after the suspension: "We'll see," he said.

The Dodgers have one of the many April open dates today and will hit the road for three games in San Diego and another three in Arizona.
 Score by innings
San Francisco	000 001 100-2
Los Angeles	000 010 000-1

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	4  0  0  0  .386
Martin c	3  1  0  0  .000
Ethier lf	3  0  0  0  .300
Kent 2b	        3  0  0  0  .200
Jones cf	4  0  1  0  .200
Loney 1b	3  0  2  1  .556
Kemp rf	        4  0  0  0  .100
DeWitt 3b	4  0  3  0  .556
Kuo p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Young ph	1  0  0  0  .333
 Troncoso p	0  0  0  0  .000	
 Billingsley p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Loaiza p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Sweeney ph	1  0  0  0  .000
 Proctor p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Pierre ph	1  0  0  0  .000
  Totals	31 1 6 1
  Giants	33 2 7 2

 Errors- Furcal (1), Ethier (1). 2B hits-
Loney (1), Jones (1). RBI- Loney (1).
S- Loaiza. LOB- Los Angeles 9, San 
Francisco 11. SB- Martin (1). CS- Pierre

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Kuo        	3.0  1  0-0  3  3  0.00
Troncoso	1.0  2  0-0  0  2  0.00
Billingsley	0.2  2  1-1  0  0 27.00
Loaiza (0-1)	2.2  2  1-1  1  2  3.38
Proctor	        2.0  0  0-0  0  1  0.00
 T- 3:11 (1:14 delay). Att- 43,217.
In Again, Out Again Finnagan-- Tony Jackson of he L./A. Daily News reports there is a rumor that Marcus Giles has changed his mind gain and WILL sign a minor-league deal with the Dodgers and report to Las Vegas to play 3B and, if he proves he can adjust to the new position, be called up in the next week or so. GM Ned Colletti said he knew nothing about the rumor but the way Blake DeWitt is hitting (.556), they may not need Giles. "Can you say Wally Pipp," Jackson cracked.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Billingsley, who has a tendency to let his pitch count rise, will pitch Monday in the opening game in Arizona. ...The Dodgers re-signed left-hander Mike Myers to a minor-league contract after releasing him last week, he was assigned him to Class AAA Las Vegas. ...Tony Abreu has been sent to Class A Vero Beach on a rehab assignment for a strained groin muscle. He is eligible to return next Thursday. ...Third baseman LaRoche, after undergoing surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament, was told by doctors the healing was better than expected. He still will need at least a month of rehab. ... Jason Schmidt hasn't thrown hard off a mound since suffering a setback from shoulder surgery early in Spring Training. ... Ethier began taking ground balls at first base last week, but Torre said it would take "an injury or extraordinary circumstance" to see him make anything more than a token appearance at the position. Ethier said he hasn't played first base since high school. ... Dodgers pitchers started the season with 15 scoreless innings, the most since 23 in 1974. ... Torre said among the players he's getting to know is Brad Penny, as they share an interest in racing thoroughbred horses. "He's farther along than I am," said Torre. "He's talking about breeding. That's where the money is. All I do is feed them and watch them run fourth."

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