Dodgers Struggle But Outlast Padres

Los Angeles built a 5-1 lead, and then fought desperately to hold onto it as San Diego scored the final three runs of the game to close the gap to 5-4. Chad Billingsley earned the win and Mitch Jones and Blake DeWitt each clouted home runs.

The Dodgers were out-hit 10-8 by the young Padres -- who left 10 on base -- but nine of the San Diego hits were singles, while Los Angeles recorded a double, triple and two home runs among their eight hits.

Eight pitchers paraded to the mound, six of them over the final five innings. Chad Billingsley didn't allow a hit in his two innings and collected the win. Shawn Estes served up three hits in his two innings but no runs and Jesus Castillo also coughed up three hits in his one inning.

Mitch Jones singled and homered. Blake DeWitt had a pair big hits in the game, he doubled and scored in the fifth and hit a two-run home run in a three-run sixth inning that put the Dodgers up 5-1, their biggest lead of the day.

Tanyon Sturtze, Erick Threets, Charlie Hager and Jacobo Meque followed Castillo on the mound before Travis Chick came in to nail down the win. He staggered a bit in the process, allowing a hit, a walk and an unearned run, but he got the job done.

Catcher A.J. Ellis got his first start and Andre Ethier returned to action, albet in the designated hitter role.

Great Start
Chad Billingsley, making his second start of the spring, walked the leadoff man, then sailed through the rest of the first inning without a hitch. He duplicated that effort in the second and ended the day with a 2.25 earned run average and a neat .200 average allowed over two starts.

The first five Dodgers were retired in order before spring sensation Mitch Jones smacked a shot onto the berm in left field, his third home run (tops in the Cactus League) and his team-leading eighth run batted in, also tying him for first in the league.

LHP Shawn Estes, who was battered in his last start just four days ago in the same stadium, allowed only a leadoff single, then three ground ball outs in the third inning. The runner was balked to second and an infield hit put runners on first and third.

The next Padre hitter shattered his bat but Hector Luna at third base was able to identify the ball in the midst of all the flying splinters and made a lunging catch near the four line to save a hit and a run.

Shortstop Blake DeWitt ripped a double into the gap in left-center field for the Dodgers second hit to open the fifth inning. Jones popped to second before Xavier Paul dropped and opposite field single into short left. The ball got away from the Padres third baseman momentarily and Paul made an ill-advised break for second but was tagged out.

The Padres quickly traded mistake for mistake, bobbling Luna's ground ball as DeWitt scored as unearned run. A.J. Ellis, making his first start behind the plate, slammed a ball that just drifted foul and onto the left field berm, then struck out to end the inning.

Estes allowed three hits in his two innings of work but, more importantly, no runs. He cut his earned run average from an ugly 33.75 to 13.51.

RHP Jesus Castillo replaced Estes in the fifth and the Dodgers gave that extra run right back to them. Castillo gave up a single, then a double play ground ball that DeWitt fumbled at short and could only get the out at first. It was not an error but it was just as costly.

A foul pop to Luna at third that should have ended the inning was followed by two more singles that drove in San Diego's first run and a walk then loaded the bases with two out but Castillo got a big strikeout to get out of the jam.

In the top of the sixth, designated hitter Andre Ethier, back in action after missing a number of games with an injury, slammed a triple to the center field wall. Mark Loretta promptly drove him in with a sharp single to left.

Chin-Lung Hu ran for Loretta. DeWitt made everyone forget about his bobble in the fifth by banging a shot over the right field wall, his first homer of the spring and the Dodgers lead moved to 5-2.

RHP Tanyon Sturtze followed Castillo was hit hard, literally. He allowed a double, the an infield hit off his leg to the first two Padres in the sixth. Luna then started a 5-4-3 double play as a run scored.

LHP Erick Threets, who has been considered for the a situational lefty role, kept the game interesting in the seventh, allowing an infield hit and walking the second Padres hitter. A ground ball moved both of them up a base and a second grounder drove in the Padres third run. A strikeout kept the damage to one run.

Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger baffled the Padres in the eighth, except when he attempted to sneak a fastball past the third hitter in the inning and had it banged into left afield for a single.

LHP Jacobo Meque, who came in to work the ninth, allowed a walk and then balked the runner to second. A ground out and a strikeout ended his work and manager Joe Torre waived in Travis Chick, who promptly walked the tying run to first base.

An attempted pickoff glanced off the glove of Doug Mientkiewicz and the tying run moved to second but a ground ball to Luna ended the game and gave the Dodgers their third win of the young season against three losses.

 Score by innings:
Los Angeles	010 013 000-5
San Diego	000 011 101-4

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Kemp cf	        3  0  0  0  .417
 Repko cf	1  0  0  0  .100
Ethier dh	3  1  1  0  .333
 Young 	        1  0  0  0  .083	
Loretta 2b	3  1  1  1  .300
 Hu pr-2b	1  0  0  0  .143
Loney 1b	3  0  0  0  .182
 Mientkiewicz 1b 1  0  0  0  .000
DeWitt ss	3  2  2  2  .313
 Castro ss	1  0  0  0  .600
Jones lf 	3  1  2  1  .417
 Hoffmann pr-lf	1  0  1  0  .667
Paul rf	        4  0  1  0  .333
Luna 3b 	3  0  0  0  .000	
Ellis c	        3  0  0  0  .286
 Ardoin c	0  0  0  0  .500
 -----------------------------------------
 Totals	    34 5  8 4
 Padres	    35 4 10 2

 Error- Mientkiewicz (1). 2b hits DeWitt (1), 
3b hits- Ethier (1). HR- Jones (3), DeWitt (1). 
RBI Jones (3(, Loretta (2), DeWitt 2 (6). 
LOB- Dodgers 2, Padres 10. DP- Luna, Hu and 
Mientkiewicz.

 Los Angeles	 in  h r-er bb so  era
Billingsley	2.0  0  0-0  1  3  2.25
Estes	        2.0  3  0-0  0  0 13.51 
Castillo	1.0  3  1-1  0  1  9.00
Sturtze	        1.0  1  1-1  0  0  5.40
Threets	        1.0  1  0-0  1  1  4.50
Haeger	        1.0  1  0-0  0  0  0.00
Meque	        0.2  0  0-0  0  1  0.00
Chick (sv 1)	0.1  1  1-0  1  0 20.25
 Balk- Estes, Meque. T- 2:546. Att- 2,923.
Surgery for Ivan
There was some thought that Ivan De Jesus, Jr., might not have to undergo surgery on his broken leg but that was not the case. The 21-year-old shortstop was to have a rod inserted into his left leg today (Tuesday) and will be on crutches for six weeks and miss four months of the season it is estimated.

Dodger Blue Notes
--A couple ex-Dodgers now with the Red Sox were sidelined. Brad Penny was cancelled his first spring training start because of shoulder weakness and outfielder J.D. Drew went back to Boston for an injection in his lower back. ...The Oakland Athletics have signed Nomar Garciaparra and will make the announcement on Fariday. ...The small San Diego crowd had a definite leaning toward Dodger Blue. ...Former Dodgers on the Padres roster included former Dodgers manager and now Padres third base coach Glenn Hoffmann and hitting coach Jim Lefebvre, coaches Terry Kennedy, Max Venable and Greg Maddux as well as third baseman Travis Denker and catcher Henry Blanco.

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