McDonald Moves Closer to a Starting Role

The Dodgers survived a seven-hit, five-extra base hit explosion in the fifth and seventh innings to top Colorado 8-6. Starter James McDonald added three more scoreless innings to his resumé, hoping to impress Manager Joe Torre's selection of the fifth starter.

As teams do during the spring, Los Angeles sent the "B" team, or at least many of them, to Tucson to meet the Rockies. Major League players do not like to travel on busses even if they get a complete double seat to themselves and a television set of their very own.

However, the youngsters were rough on Colorado, popping a "5" up on the board in the fourth and a "3" in the seventh with Xavier Paul, Blake DeWitt, Chin-Lung Hu and Juan Castro knocking in six of them.

James McDonald had a strange opening inning, walking two and hitting a batter but also striking out the side. He not only held Colorado hitless, but he held them hit-less, not letting anyone eve hit the ball in the first inning.

He did give up two more hits in the second and third innings but no run and moved ever closer to a starting job.

Xavier Paul smacked a bases-loaded triple to cap the five-run fourth inning. Blake DeWitt singled home James Loney and then scored himself on a single by Juan Castro before Paul's three bagger.

Scott Elbert worked around a couple walks while shutting out the Rockies in the fourth.

Colorado took three runs out of the Dodgers lead in the fifth inning, jumping all over Eric Milton.

The Dodgers ran the tally to 8-3 with a three-run seventh as Loney knocked in a pair of runs and DeWitt chipped in with his second RBI single.

Milton nearly gave it all back in the seventh. Overall he was tagged for six runs. Ramon Troncoso came in to end the seventh, work a shutout eighth and then Brian Mazone earned the save by blanking the Rockies in the ninth.

The opposing shortstops had a tough day at the plate. Chin-Lung Hu was 1-for-4 and left four runners on base. Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki was 0-for-3 and left three on.

Hiroki Kuroda starts against the Royals at Camelback Ranch-Glendale today (Friday) on Military Day when servicemen get in at half-price. Outfielder Manny Ramirez is scheduled to play after taking a road game off.

 Score by innings
Los Angeles	000 500 300-8
Colorado	000 030 300-3

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Paul rf	        4  1  1  2  .345
Ausmus c	3  0  0  0  .353
 Rosario lf	1  0  1  0 1.000
Loney 1b	5  2  2  2  .250
Kemp cf	        5  0  1  0  .258
DeWitt 3b	4  1  2  2  .296
Repko lf	2  0  0  0  .229
 Elbert p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Milton p	2  0  1  0  .500
 Troncoso p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Mazone p	0  0  0  0  .000
Hu ss	        4  1  1  0  .279
Castro 2b	4  1  2  1  .435
McDonald p	1  0  0  0 1.000
 M'kiewicz lf	2  2  1  0  .276
 Ardoin c	0  0  0  0  .444
 Totals	        37 8 13 8
 Rockies	33 6 10 6

 Two-base hits- DeWitt (2), Mientkiewicz (4).
Three-base hits- Paul (4). RBI- DeWitt 2 (12), 
Castro (7), Paul 3 (13), Loney 2 (7). S-
Ausmus. CS- Rosario (1), Castro (1). LOB- Los
Angeles 5, Colorado 10. DP- Castro, Hu and
Loney; Hu, Castro and Loney.

 Los Angeles	 in  h r-er bb so  era
McDonald (2-2)	3.0  2  0-0  2  3  4.70
Elbert	        1.0  0  0-0  2  1  5.40
Milton	        2.0  3  3-3  1  0  5.94
Troncoso	1.1  1  0-0  1  0  5.19
Mazone (sv 1)	1.0  0  0-0  0  1  1.13
 HBP- by McDonald, by Milton, by Mazone. 
T- 3:11. Att- 6,361.
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...
(Sorry, I've been wanting to use that for some time but I haven had the proper opportunity.)

About when Joe Torre thought he was getting to the end of the search for starters, things just start going bad.

Chad Billingsley's pulled groin has not reacted to rest. One must be cautious when teams say the injury is "not serious." They aren't attempting to lie about things, but they also don't want to let other clubs know they are desperate to obtain a pitcher, or shortstop or ...etc.

There may be no crying in baseball, but there is no mercy either.

If you really need the extra shortstop I have been shopping around, the price will go up exponentially to your need.

Ergo, for example, if Billingsley will be out of action much longer than originally expected, an available pitcher, let's say Pedro Martinez, would hold solidly to his asking price and not, as a last resort, give in and sign for less than he was asking.

This is all hypothetical, you understand.

But there are just over two weeks before Billingsley was scheduled to start against San Diego and he is still having trouble throwing off flat ground.

You do the math.

Then, too, Claudio Vargas admits he is suffering from a sore arm. Now that may be the fox admitting that the grapes he was jumping for without success were probably sour anyway.

Vargas, one of the masses fighting for the fifth starting slot, may have pitched himself out of contention by allowing a walk, a hit batsman, seven hits and four runs to the Rockies and his stat sheet shows he has allowed six home runs and an 8.22 earned run average in his 15+ spring innings.

Lefthander Eric Milton's quest for the above named fifth starting slot took a real jolt at Tucson when the Rockies nailed him for seven hits (five for extra bases) and six runs in just under three innings before Ramon Troncoso stopped the bleeding and ended the inning.

Jonathan Broxton and Cory Wade threw in a simulated game to get some work in without crowding the relievers who are still on the cusp as far as the 25-man roster.

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