Dodgers Win Eight Innings, Lose the Game

The Dodgers let the opening game at Camelback Ranch slip through their fingers, allowing three runs in the ninth inning to lose 3-2. Leading 2-0 into the top of the ninth, they had to use three pitchers to get out of the inning but not before they surrendered three runs.

Dodger pitching allowed only four hits into the fateful ninth. Hiroki Kuroda, Eric Milton, Claudio Vargas, Guillermo Mota, Ramon Troncoso and Victor Garate mowed down the White Sox hitters with regularity.

The Dodgers offense, seemingly in again, out again on a regular basis, was out again this day with most of the "A" team on the field. They managed only six hits and the Sox helped with four errors, a walk and a catcher's interference but could only score twice.

No Dodger had more than a single hit and had Matt Kemp not played, they might not have scored at all. He lived on an error in the fourth, stole second and later scored from third on Mark Loretta's single.

In the sixth, he doubled and pinch runner Jaime Hoffman scored on Blake Dewitt's one base hit. That pretty well sums up a Dodgers offense that scored 16 against the Giants and 13 against Colorado in their two wins and have seven total runs in their three losses.

Thousands of fans underestimated the opening day crush, although the game had been announced a sellout for some time, and were stranded in their cars on the road outside the park or walking in from the parking lots when Hiroki Kuroda threw the first pitch of the game -- a strike.

Second baseman Orlando Hudson demonstrated that his fielding reputation was not a myth, racing in to glove a bunt and toss it with his glove to James Loney at first for the first out of the game.

Sox second baseman Jason Nix lined a double to right center for the first hit in the park. Kuroda retired the next two Chicago hitters. He also set them down 1-2-3 in the second, with Hudson ranging far into center field to corral a popup.

The Sox retired the first four Dodgers before second baseman Mark Loretta drew a walk. Right Fielder Mitch Jones, the hottest hitter in the Dodgers camp with seven runs batted in, smacked the first Los Angeles hit in the new park, a double into the left field corner, but catcher Brad Ausmus popped to right leaving both runners in scoring position.

Kuroda left in favor of lefty Eric Milton after throwing only 24 pitches and getting six ground ball outs in his two innings. Milton worked a scoreless third but left runners at first and third, then had no trouble in the fourth, striking out two.

Juan Pierre led off the bottom of the third inning when his ground ball skipped under the shortstop Wilson Betemit's glove for an error. But Pierre was thrown out stealing second on the first pitch to Rafael Furcal.

Kemp opened the fourth inning by living on he second error of the game by Betemit. Kemp stole second base and scored the first Dodger run on Loretta's single.

After five innings the Sox had two hits and the Dodgers three, plus a 1-0 lead. They scored on Kemp's double and DeWitt's first-pitch single (he had taken called strikes in his two previous at-bats) in the sixth and then the offense went completely dormant.

Chicago had back-to-back singles in the sixth but catcher Brad Ausmus threw the first one out stealing second. (Russ Martin is off to play for the Canadian team in the World Baseball Classic).

Guillermo Mota, who had been sidelined with a sore shoulder, cruised through the seventh inning without a problem. Ramon Troncoso, also out for a time with tendinitis, walked a batter, got a double play, then walked another and hit his pitch limit.

Rookie lefty Victor Garate, with his slingshot delivery, struck out the final man of the inning.

Jaime Hoffman reached base on catcher's interference in the bottom of the eighth, the fourth time in five innings the leadoff man had reached, and was bunted to second by Xavier Paul.

Hector Luna fanned and Juan Castro saw his Cactus League-leading .750 average slip nearly 100 points when he bounced out to end the inning.

Scott Strickland took over in the ninth to close the game out but couldn't get an out. He surrendered a home run to the leadoff man, amid boos from the Dodgers' faithful, then walked the next hitter.

Exit Strickland, stage left, and enter Carmen Cali. A bunt single loaded the bases and Castro's throw to first base sailed past Mitch Jones who had taken over for James Loney, However, Chin-Lung Hu had hustled over from second to back up the play and probably saved two runs when he caught the errant toss on the fly.

His heroics went for naught when a fielder's choice on another high throw by Castro pulled Hu off second base on an attempted force play and the score was tied.

Exit Cali, again stage left, and enter Eduardo Martinez, a free agent who had been converted from a catcher to the mound. He allowed an infield hit to put the Sox in the lead, then retired the next two hitters, just one out too late.

Jones, who had homered in the ninth inning of his previous two games and who leads the Dodgers with seven RBI, led off but his magic seemed to have dissipated and he bounced out on the first pitch.

Delwyn Young struck out after seeing only four pitches and Jason Repko lived on an error to keep the Dodgers' pulse beating, though somewhat weakly.

Then rookie Hoffman banged a long shot to right center that seemed to have the distance to give L.A. a miracle win, but the ball died on the warning track as did the Dodgers' last chance.

Today (Monday) is an open date but they have scheduled a "B" game with Milwaukee that will start at 9:30. Randy Wolf and Jeff Weaver are among the pitchers due to work for L.A.. As Tony Jackson mused, if there is no game scheduled, isn't a "B" game an "A" game?"

 Score by innings
White Sox	  000 000 003-3
Los Angeles       000 101 000-2

 Dodgers	ab r  h  bi  ave
?Furcal ss	3  0  1  0  .200
 DeJesus ss	2  0  0  0  .000
?Hudson 2b	3  0  0  0  .200
 Hu 2b	        1  0  0  0  .167?
Kemp cf	        3  1  1  0  .556
 Hoffman pr-cf	0  1  0  0  .600?
Loney 1b	3  0  0  0  .250
 Paul rf	0  0  0  0  .250
Loretta dh	2  0  1  0  .286
 Luna ph-dh	1  0  0  0  .000	
?DeWitt 3b	3  0  1  1  .231
 Castro pr-3b	1  0  0  0  .667
Jones rf-1b	4  0  1  0  .333			
?Ausmus C	2  0  0  0  .333
 Ellis c	1  0  0  0  .500
?Pierre lf	3  0  0  0  .000?
 Repko lf	1  0  0  0  .111
 Totals	        34 2 6 2
 White Sox	32 3 6 3

  2b hits- Jones (1), Kemp (1). RBI- Loretta 
(1), DeWitt (4). SB- Kemp (2). CS- Pierre (1). 
LOB- Los Angeles 8, Chicago . DP- Casto, Hu 
and Jones.

 Los Angeles	ab  h  r-er bb so  era
Kuroda	        2.0  1  0-0  0  0  0.00
Milton	        2.0  1  0-0  1  2  0.00
Vargas	        2.0  2  0-0  0  1  2.25
Mota	        1.0  0  0-0  0  1  0.00
Troncoso	0.2  0  0-0  2  0 13.50
Garate	        0.1  0  0-0  0  1 13.50
Strickland	0-0  1  2-2  1  0 27.00
Cali (0-1)	0.1  1  1-1  1  0  6.75
Martinez	0.2  0  0-0  0  2  0.00
 T- 2:52. Att- 11,280.
By the Way...
For those of you who are remotely interested, The Dodgers have pulled their $45 million, two-year offer to Manny Ramirez, and owner Frank McCourt said Sunday that negotiations will have to start again from scratch.

The Dodgers announced last week that Ramirez had declined the team's latest offer, a $25 million one-year contract for the 2009 season with a $20 million player option for 2010. McCourt said no talks with Ramirez's representatives were scheduled for Sunday.

McCourt said before the Dodgers opener at Camelback Ranch, "We had an almost four-month negotiation which terminated on Thursday. Now were in a quiet period. At some point we'll pick up negotiations, but with a fresh start."

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