Cheaper (And Better) by the Dozen

They have won games with a booming offense and won with strong pitching. They have received remarkable performances from 37-year-old outfielders and from 21-year-old pitchers. Sometimes it seems like they use smoke and mirrors to baffle their opponents and now we find that the spirit of Jackie Robinson has been part of their remarkable 12-0 home winning streak.

Their 12th win came courtesy of veteran Jeff Weaver, who should perhaps play in Los Angeles for meal money, since he has had little success anywhere else. In 2002 he posted a 5-3 record with the Yankees, his only winning Major League season in his first five. Traded to the Dodgers he finished 27-24 in 2004-2005.

Leaving by free agency, he was 8-14 between the Angeles and Cardinals in 2006, slipped to 7-13 for Seattle in 2007 and spent the entire season in the Minor Leagues in 2008. His 93-114 major league record slips to 66-90 when not wearing Dodger Blue.

After missing the cut, and returning to the minor league Albuquerque Isotopes, he again got the call when rookie James McDonald picked up a bad case of the yips and held Arizona to five hits and a single run over five innings, striking out six and walking one and pushing his career record with the Dodgers to 28-24.

The offense didn't help him much in the win. Oh, they scored three in the first inning on two hits and an error but from that point on, they could only manage three hits and no runs.

Now the bullpen, that was another story.

The Dodgers used four relievers and got four shutout innings. Ramon Troncoso ran his scoreless innings streak to 14.1 with 1.2 innings; Will Ohman got a key out by retiring Chad Tracy to end the seventh inning; Ronald Belisario struck out the side in the eighth and Jonathan Broxton fanned a pair in a scoreless ninth inning for his eighth save.

The victory was the 12th in a row at home, equalling the Major League mark set 98 years ago (1911) by the Detroit Tigers. Hughie Jennings, a former Brooklyn Dodger, was the manager and Ty Cobb the prime mover then in Bennett Park a year before they moved into Navin Field, later to be called Tiger Stadium.

"I'm glad it's finally something that happened before I was born," said Joe Torre, the Dodgers' 68-year-old manager. "It's something to admire when you look back on it and know that there you are. You're in the record books and you were a part of that team that did it."

The dusty record books have been scoured and report that the Dodgers' longest home winning streak in Los Angeles at any point in a season was 13 games in 1993. They won 14 straight at Ebbets Field in 1921. The Dodgers' sixth straight victory made them a major league-best 20-8 overall, their best start since the 1983 club started out 21-7 under Tommy Lasorda. That same year, the Atlanta Braves started out 10-0 at home under Torre.

But the books have a word of caution: the Dodgers have the same overall record Arizona had after 28 games last season, when the Diamondbacks held first place in the NL West and led Los Angeles by 5 1-2 games.

So Weaver makes his first start since 2005 for the Dodgers and gives up a double to the first Arizona hitter. Then with two out, gold glove second baseman Orlando Hudson when deep into the outfield to make a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch to save a run. AFter the game, when asked how he had made the play, he said, "I closed my eyes and Mr. Jackie Robinson carried me the rest of the way."

Now that is something that other teams have no access to.

In the bottom of the first, Hudson doubled with one out and if Robinson helped him with that he didn't mention it. Manny Ramirez walked and Andre Ethier single to right, knocking in his team-leading 26th run. James Loney bounced out to second and Ramirez hustled in to score. If he had help from Robinson on the bases, he didn't say anything about it.

Russ Martin lived on an error by shortstop Josh Wilson as Ethier came across with the third run of the inning and the last one the Dodgers would manage.

The Dodgers have outscored opponents 27-13 in the first inning this season.

Casey Blake singled in the fourth with two out and Weaver added a hit of his own but no runs resulted and after 11 official at-bats without success, the fifth and final Los Angeles hit came when Ethier singled in the eighth.

Weaver allowed a leadoff double in the first, a leadoff single in the second, a pair of leadoff singles in the third and a ground rule double in the fourth. He worked around an error by Ethier in the fifth and after 85 pitches, turned the game over to the bullpen. Jeff Weaver

Troncoso got the first two outs in the sixth before Rafael Furcal's error and a stolen base put a runner in scoring position. But he got a tap back to the mound to end the inning, before allowing a single in the seventh. He left with two out and Will Ohman retired the final Arizona batter.

Belisario hit the first Diamondback in the eighth and he eventually stole second but in between he struck out the side. Then Broxton and his 100 mph heater fanned the first two in the ninth and Hudson threw out the final batter to put his eighth save in the books.

Broxton is 3-0 with a 0.64 ERA, and has converted eighth saves in nine opportunities. He has 25 strikeouts in 14 innings over 13 games, a stunning 16.1 per nine innings.

"He's consistent right now," Torre said, understating things more than a bit. "He has a lot of confidence in what he's doing, as you can see in the number of breaking balls he's throwing even when he's behind in the count. Last year, you wouldn't have seen that. He's not trying to be perfect with every pitch."

Ethier picked up two of the Dodgers five hits.

If a new record 13th straight is to be, it may depend on LHP Clayton Kershaw (0-2, 5.46 ERA) who came back from his worst start in Colorado and allowed only four singles and two walks in seven innings against San Diego.

He will be opposed by RHP Daniel Cabrera (0-2, 4.44 ERA) who set a team record with four wild pitches in his last start. However, he pitched six innings while allowing three runs on four hits to the Cardinals in a 9-4 loss.

  Score by Innings
Arizona	        001 000 000-1
Los Angeles	300 000 00x-3

  Score by Innings
Dodgers	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	4  0  0  0  .248
Hudson 2b	4  1  1  0  .333
Ramirez lf	3  1  0  0  .348
Ethier rf	3  1  2  1  .327
Loney 1b	4  0  0  1  .270
Martin c	3  0  0  0  .222
Kemp cf        	3  0  0  0  .289
Blake 3b	3  0  1  0  .230
Weaver p	2  0  1  0  .250
 Troncoso p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Ohman p	0  0  0  0 1.000
 Pierre ph	1  0  0  0  .000
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
  Totals	30 3 5 2
  Arizona	35 1 7 0

  Error- Ethier (1). 2B- Hudson (9). 
RBI- Ethier (26), Loney (18). LOB- Dodgers 
5, Arizona 9. SB- Martin (2).

  Dodgers 	in  h r-er bb so  era
Weaver (1-0)	5.0  5  1-1  1  6  1.00
Troncoso        1.2  2  0-0  0  0  0.98
Ohman         	0.1  0  0-0  0  0  5.00
Belisario       1.0  0  0-0  0  3  3.12
Broxton (sv 8)	1.0  0  0-0  0  2  0.64
  WP- Weaver. HBP- by Belisario. 
T- 2:46. Att- 33,557.
Dodger Blue Notes-- The Dodgers have won six in a row, seven of eight, 10 of 13 and are 18-5 since a 2-3 start. They are 23 of 26 at Dodger Stadium going back to Aug. 21, 2008. ...The Dodgers go into tonight's game with a nine-game home win streak against Washington dating to 2005. ...The Nationals have activated former Dodgers reliever Joe Beimel, who had been on the disabled list with a sore hip. ...The Dodgers have scored 27 first-inning runs in 28 games and are 13-1 when they score in the first inning. ...Rafael Furcal went 0-for-4 on Tuesday and did not reach base for the first time in 25 games this season.