Great Homestand Unravels With Giants' Win

The Dodgers best start in 26 years came apart at the seams after the Giants left town with a 7-5 win in 13 innings and two of the three games played between the two ancient rivals. At the moment Los Angeles is a team in flux, waiting for someone to step up and take a leadership role.

The Dodgers are 1-3 since the suspension of their slugging outfielder Manny Ramirez despite the fat that his replacement, Juan Pierre, has done everything possible to stop the skid. Over the last four games he is 9-for-16 (.643) with two walks, four RBIs, four runs scored and two stolen bases in that stretch.

"Pierre's been great," manager Joe Torre said. "Again, playing every day isn't foreign to him. But he's been swinging the bat real well." Pierre also had what looked to be the game-winning hit in the ninth inning when he hit a ball into right-center that was caught by a diving Aaron Rowand with Blake on first base.

He collected three hits for the second straight, doubled home a run and scored three times for a Dodgers team that went 8-3 on a homestand in which they set a modern major league record with a 13-0 start at home.

A bases-loaded single off Guillermo Mota in the 13th inning drove in the two runs that broke up a game that was tight from the start. A pair of infield hits, a walk and Randy Winn's opposite drive into the left field corner was the killing blow.

Los Angeles took a 1-0 lead in the first, San Francisco scored twice in the second. The Dodgers tied in the third, then took a 4-2 lead in the fifth before the Giants scored single runs in the sixth and eighth. Both clubs scored in the 12th before the game winning rally in the 13th.

The meat of the Dodgers lineup, Rafael Furcal, Orlando Hudson, Andre Ethier, James Loney and Matt Kemp were a combined 2-for-27 (.074). Mark Loretta started at third instead of Casey Blake and Brad Ausmus was behind the plate instead of Russell Martin.

Blake got into the game in the seventh inning and was 3-for-3 with a clutch home run in the 12th inning.

Jeff Weaver struggled with his control, allowing only three hits but walking four and allowing three runs before leaving in the sixth after allowing a leadoff double with a 4-2 lead.

Then the parade began as Torre used Ramon Troncoso, Will Ohman, Ronald Belisario, Corey Wade, Jonathan Broxton, James McDonald and the ill-fated Mota.

Giants ace and Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, who is only 5-11 and 170 pounds but plays much bigger than that. The Giants are fortunate they didn't have the same set of advisers Fred Claire had when the same-sized Pedro Martinez was trying to crack the Dodgers starting lineup, or they would have traded him for a bag of magic beans as Los Angeles ended up doing.

Los Angeles scored for times on the slight 25-year-old, one of the runs coming on his own error, and nearly had pinned him with a loss but the Giants wriggled out to tie, then win.

Pierre opened the bottom of the first with a walk and moved to third on Lincecum's wild pickoff attempt. Hudson scored him with a sac fly. Weaver quickly gave the lead back with three walks, an infield hit and the first of three San Francisco sacrifice flys, this one by Lincecum himself.

With two out in the third, Pierre singled and stole second, scoring on Furcal's single to center. Then in the fifth, L.A. scored twice. Ausmus singled but was forced by Weaver. Pierre doubled in one run and Hudson doubled in the other with two out.

Weaver gave one run back when his sixth inning double was converted into a run when Troncoso allowed an RBI single. Belisario coughed up the tying run in the eighth when the Giants picked up a trio of singles and the ubiquitous sac fly.

Pierre was robbed of a game-winning RBI double in the ninth by center fielder Aaron Rowand, who made a diving grab with two out and Blake on first base. It was his second spectacular, run-saving catch of the series.

Broxton took over and worked two perfect innings, striking out two. James McDonald worked around a hit-batsman and a single to hold the Giants scoreless in the 11th and Mota allowed three singles and a run in the 12th to put the Giants on top but Blake's one-out home run in the bottom of the inning again tied the scored.

Fate took a hand in the 13th. Mota surrendered a one-out single and walked the next Giants batter. Then what seemed like a perfect double play ground ball got stuck in Furcal's glove and went for a bases-loaded infield hit. Winn's shot into the left field corner scored the final two runs of the game.

Pierre and Blake had three hits each to account for six of the Dodges' 11 hits. TDe Dodgers were a horrendous 5-for-22 with runners in scoring position. Furcal and Hudson left seven men on base between them and James Loney was 0-for-6 and bounced into a double play, accounting for seven outs.

Again the Giants moved too within 4.5 of the Dodgers, while Arizona, San Diego and Colorado all stayed 8.5 games behind.

After 20 games without a day off, (your grandfather would have called the schedule "cockamamy") the Dodgers will get a break today, then launch into a tough six-game road trip with three in Philadelphia and three in Florida.

"We battled," Torre said. "This game is all about personality and this ballclub wants to win badly. But unfortunately you have to fight your way back from disappointment."

Although the Dodgers have been dominant at home, they're only 8-8 on the road this season. Torre said he plans on keeping 13 pitchers on the road trip because the versatility of bench players such as Juan Castro and Mark Loretta, who can play a multiple positions.

The trip will open with LHP Clayton Kershaw (1-2, 4.91 ERA) taking the ball for the Dodgers. Kershaw allowed one run in five innings but required 99 pitches in his last start.

Los Angeles will face an old friend in RHP Chan Ho Park (0-1, 6.67 ERA) who allowed just one hit in six shutout innings his last time out against the Mets.

  Score by Innings
San Francisco	020 001 010 001 2-7
LA Dodgers	101 020 000 001 0-5

  Dodgers	ab r  h  bi ave
Pierre lf	5  3  3  1  .426
Furcal ss	6  0  1  1  .246
Hudson 2b	5  0  1  2  .331
Ethier f	5  0  0  0  .285
Loney 1b	6  0  0  0  .264
Loretta 3b	3  0  1  0  .333
 Belisario p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Wade p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Paul ph	1  0  1  0  .500
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
 McDonald p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Martin ph	0  0  0  0  .272
 Mota p	        0  0  0  0  .000
Kemp cf	        5  0  0  0  .275
Ausmus c	5  0  1  0  .381
Weaver p	2  1  0  0  .167
 Troncoso p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Ohman p	0  0  0  0 1.000
 Blake 3b	3  1  3  1  .260
  Totals	47 5 11 5
  San Francisco	50 7 14 7

  2B- Pierre (4), Hudson (12). HR- Blake
(6). RBI- Hudson 2 (19), Furcal (8),
Pierre (7), Blake (18). SF- Hudson. LOB-
Dodger 6. San Francisco 15. SB- Pierre
(3). CS- Paul (1).

  Dodgers	 in  h r-er bb so  era
Weaver	        5.0  3  3-3  4  2  2.57
Troncoso 	0.1  1  0-0  0  1  2.21
Ohman 	        0.2  0  0-0  1  1  4.66
Belisario	1.0  1  1-1  0  1  3.26
Wade 	        1.0  2  0-0  0  0  5.59
Broxton	        2.0  0  0-0  0  2  0.56
McDonald	1.0  1  0-0  0  0  7.27
Mota (2-1)	2.0  6  3-3  1  0  7.42
  HBP- by Weaver, by McDonald. T- 4:44. 
Att- 37,529.
Kuroda Improving
Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who is on the disabled list with a left oblique strain, threw his first bullpen session since suffering the injury. He threw 25 pitches, all fastballs, and came out of the session saying his shoulder and side "feel so much better."

But he also added that it's still too early to set a target date on his return to the club.

"I don't really have a timetable," Kuroda said through a translator. "Last time, I tried to rush it though and tried to push the trainer to let me throw more and it caused a setback. So this time I'm going to listen to the trainer as much as possible."

Dodgers athletic trainer Stan Conte said Kuroda will travel with the team on its upcoming six-game road trip and could throw another bullpen session Tuesday or Wednesday. But that bullpen session is expected to be more intense than the one Kuroda threw Sunday.

Kuroda made just one start this season, which came in an Opening Day win over the Padres when he allowed one run over 5.1 innings, before going on the disabled list days later with a strained oblique. In 32 career starts with the Dodgers, Kuroda is 10-10 with a 3.67 ERA.

Manny Apologizes to Frank McCourt
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt met with the suspended Manny Ramirez and is counting on Manny being man enough to apologize to his teammates for the awkward position he put them in last week.

"I felt it was important that the conversation be eyeball to eyeball and not on the phone," McCourt said. "I found him to be very sorrowful.

"I'd be lying to say I wasn't a little angry at first," McCourt said. "But it's nothing a good night's sleep doesn't solve. Anger gets you nowhere. It doesn't solve any problems.

"We all make mistakes, and it's how we deal with those mistakes that really differentiates one from the other. And if Manny does with others what he did with me yesterday, I think we'll be on the road to full recovery."

"I think he'll decide what the right words are. He needs to speak for himself, and he knows that."

Ramirez also spoke with Torre and general manager Ned Colletti by phone. Colletti declined to say when the outfielder would show up in the clubhouse, acknowledging that his separation from the ballclub remains a sensitive issue.

The way Ramirez's current contract is structured, he will lose $2,732,240 this season and $1,366,120 in each of the next three years—a saving of $6,830,600 for the Dodgers. The deal included a $20-million player option for next season.

"He knows he's disappointed not only me but everybody in the front office, Joe, all of his teammates, the fans and the community," McCourt said. "Manny's hurt, but he also knows he brought the hurt on himself. He's in the process right now of doing what anybody else would do if they made a mistake—in terms of making amends here, communicating with the people he knows he has to communicate with, and then going about repairing his relationships."

Pink Bat Day
After his three-hit day, Juan Pierre might just keep using his Mothers' Day pink bat the rest of the season. Pierre was just one of six Dodgers using the bats, joining Rafael Furcal, James Loney, Mark Loretta, Matt Kemp and Brad Ausmus.

Pierre said it was an honor to use the pink bats that have come to promote breast cancer awareness and are a tribute to mothers everywhere.

"Every time I look at the bats, I think about my mom and and the women that are fighting breast cancer," Pierre said. "So all around it's a good thing what they do with Mother's Day for baseball." Several other players wore pink wristbands with the pink ribbon sign on them that symbolizes the support of women with breast cancer.

Second baseman Orlando Hudson had specially made cleats with pink embroidery and laces.

Dodgers players and coaches greeted fans at the turnstiles with roses before the game. There was also a pre-game ceremony for Susan G. Komen for the Cure with pink umbrellas in center field that looked like a pink ribbon, which is the symbol for the support of women with breast cancer.

"I use the pink bat every year," said Kemp, who also has his mom's name tattooed on his wrist. "It's a tribute to breast cancer and to your mother. Basically, when I'm out there swinging that bat, it's like saying hello to my mother, and the wristbands are kind of like telling her that I love her and happy Mother's Day."

Pink bats have become annual Mother's Day symbols as part of an overall "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative by Major League Baseball that raises awareness about breast cancer and directs proceeds to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Fans will have an opportunity bid on the game-used pink bats, home plates and logo bases and lineup cards or they can purchase their own personalized "Mother's Day 2009" pink bats right now for $79.99 apiece at the Shop with $10 from the sale of each one going to Komen.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Jonathan Broxton is living in Eric Gagné territory after his two scoreless innings dropped his ERA to 0.56. ...Catcher Russell Martin and third baseman Casey Blake were out of the starting lineup Sunday but are expected to be in the lineup Tuesday. ...The Dodgers scored a run in the first inning Sunday and have now scored a Major League-best 26 first-inning runs in 33 games. ...Outfielder Xavier Paul recorded his first Major League hit with a two-out single in the eighth inning Sunday against Giants left-hander Jeremy Affeldt.