Dodger's Far East Is Far Out

No more "Hu's on second" jokes, the kid (Hong-Chih) earned his spurs Sunday afternoon in San Diego, driving in the winning run in the top of the ninth before Takashi Saito worked a perfect ninth to nail down a 3-2 win over the Padres and move the Dodgers back into first place in the N.L. West. Overall, the Tiawan-Japan connection worked to perfection

. Truthfully, it was a bit more than the Far Easterners that tipped the balance. Starter Derek Lowe worked six splendid innings and the bullpen kept their earned run average at 0.00 over the final three innings.

And then there was Andre Ethier. He homered in the second for a 1-0 lead. It was his first of the year and the second L.A. homer of the season. He now shares the lead with Jeff Kent. Ether then slugged a ball that was caught on the track. Singled, stole second and scored on Russ Martin's double in the seventh to tie the game 2-2.

This wasn't an early season "work out the kinks" game, it was a tight battle all the way with each team having a chance to take a commanding lead but the pitchers on both sides would have none of it.

Chris Young started for San Diego, and although he isn't Jake Peavy (who is?) he is an extremely accomplished starter.

Lowe got into a quick mess in the first inning, walking the leadoff man and Tadahito Iguchi beat out an infield hit in front of the plate, Russ Martin hit him in the back with his throw, Brian Giles moving to third.

Lowe then got a strikeout ground ball to Blake DeWitt at third and Giles was nailed in a rundown. Then a ground ball to second got him out of trouble.

Ethier lined a shot into right-center bleachers leading off the second to put L.A. in front. Young only allowed a single home run at home during the 2007 season.

But a pair of Padres doubles and a single scored one in the third and San Diego went in front. A base-running blunder by Brian Giles cost the Padres a run. Giles doubled and went to third on an infield single that was knocked down by Hu at second base.

But when Giles rounded too far around the base, Hu threw behind him and Giles was tagged out by Blake DeWitt. Adrian Gonzalez followed with an RBI double to right field that scored one run instead of two.

"I was just trying to knock the ball down," Hu said. "I knew had I no chance at first base, but I saw that Giles went too far past third. If I made a good throw, I knew I had him."

San Diego capitalized on Furcal's wild throw to first that Loney couldn't dig out of the dirt in the sixth and took a 2-1 lead.

It was Ethier again in the seventh, leading off with a single, stealing second and scoring on Martin's double to left to tie the game at two each. Ethier is 6-for-16 with three homers against Young.

Then in the ninth, Martin walked, moved to second on DeWitt;s ground ball and Hu, the Dodgers Minor League Player of the Year in 2007, slammed a shot down the left field line to score Martin with the eventual winning runs. "I took the first pitch and he threw it down the middle," Hu said. "I was looking for changeup on the next pitch and I was ready for that."

Scott Proctor, Joe Beimel, Jonathan Broxton and Saito pitched blanks over the final three innings. Counting Lowe's work in the sixth, San Diego's final 16 batters could only manage a single, a couple walks and a hit batsman.

Furcal made a run-saving leaping catch on Scott Hairston's line drive in the eighth with runners on first and third.

Broxton (1-0) got credit for the win, and Takashi Saito earned his first save of the year.

Andre Ethier slugged his first home run of the year, to right-center off San Diego starter Chris Young, leading off the second inning, but the Padres tied the game off Dodgers starter Derek Lowe in the third on Adrian Gonzalez's RBI double.

San Diego broke the tie in the sixth with an unearned run. Tadahito Iguchi reached when first baseman James Loney was unable to short-hop Rafael Furcal's low throw, took third on Gonzalez's single and scored on Kevin Kouzmanoff's sacrifice fly.

The Dodgers tied the game in the seventh when Ethier singled, stole second and was doubled home by Martin. Hu's RBI in the ninth tagged San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman with his second loss in three games.

The Dodgers took two of three from the Padres and continue their first road trip under new manager Joe Torre with three at Arizona starting Monday. Esteban Loaiza draws the opening start.
 Score by innings
Los Angeles	010 000 101-3
San Diego	001 001 000-2

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Pierre lf	4  0  0  0  .091
 Proctor p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Kent ph	1  0  0  0  .176
 Saito p	0  0  0  0  .000	
Furcal ss	3  0  2  0  .435
Loney 1b	4  0  1  0  .381
Jones cf	4  0  0  0  .136
Ethier rf-lf	4  2  2  1  .273
Martin c	4  2  2  1  .095
DeWitt 3b	4  0  0  0  .278
Hu 2b	        4  0  1  1  .333
Lowe p	        2  0  0  0  .000
 Sweeney ph	0  0  0  0  .333
 Kemp ph-rf	1  0  0  0  .125
  Total	       33 3 7 3
  Padres	31 2 6 2

 Error- Martin (1), Furcal (2). 2b hits-
Furcal (3), Martin (1). HR- Ethier (1).
RBI- Ethier (3), Martin (3), Hu (1).
SB- Furcal (1), Ethier (1). LOB- Los
Angeles 7, San Diego 9.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Lowe	        6.0  5  2-1  1  6  2.25
Proctor	        0.1  0  0-0  1  0  0.00
Beimel	        0.1  0  0-0  1  0  0.00
Broxton (1-0)	1.1  1  0-0  0  1  0.00
Saito (sv 1)	1.0  0  0-0  0  0  0.00
 HBP- by Broxton. T- 2:50. Att- 44,165.
Quote of the Day-- "Last season, when the Dodgers finished a disappointing fourth in the NL West, there were 13 games in which they faced the No. 1 starter of one of the teams that finished ahead of them: Arizona's Brandon Webb, Colorado's Jeff Francis and San Diego's Jake Peavy. The Dodgers won just one of those games, coming from behind the beat the Rockies on Aug. 19 when Francis was already out of the game.

"In those 13 games, Webb, Francis and Peavy combined to go 10-0 with a 1.78 ERA against L.A. And based on Peavy's latest masterpiece, in which he threw just 116 pitches, retired the side in order in six different innings and disposed of the Dodgers in a 2 hours, 21 minutes, nothing seems to have changed much.

"The Dodgers will play 71 of their 162 regular-season games within the division, including 20 of their first 31. They had better find a way to beat good pitching, before it's too late." -- Tony Jackson, Los Angeles Daily News.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Joe Beimel, Jonathan Broxton, Scott Proctor, Takashi Saito and Ramon Troncoso have combined for 13.1 scoreless innings so far this season. The only Dodger reliever to allow a run in 2008 is, oddly enough, a starter, Chad Billingsley, who relieved Hong-Chih Kuo in the final game of the Giants series. ...James Loney is the lone Dodger with a hit in each of the club's first six games this season. ...The Dodgers are the only team in baseball that has not allowed 10 runs yet this season. Dodger pitchers have also permitted just one home run in six games this season, the lowest total in baseball. Offensively, the Dodgers have scored 20 runs through six games, the fifth-lowest total in the Majors. ...Kansas City purchased Hideo Nomo's contract and promoted him to the big club. ...Philadelphia traded third baseman Wes Helms to Seattle, thus ending speculation the Dodgers would pick him up to fill in until LaRoche/Garciaparra heals. ...Former Dodger Edwin Jackson started for Tampa Bay and worked six innings, allowing five hits, one run and striking out four.