Four-Run Fifth Sinks Dodgers

Opening Day starter Vicente Padilla took a one-hitter into the fourth inning and was knocked out of the game in the fifth when Kansas City batted nine men and scored four times to turn a 3-1 Dodgers lead into a 5-3 deficit. Los Angeles got seven men into scoring position, Kansas City had 24 and made the best of their opportunities.

The Dodgers had their Opening Day lineup on the field, including starter Vicente Padilla and built a three-run lead off Kansas City ace Zack Greinke but the offense winked out at that point and the Royals rolled up an easy win.

Blake DeWitt, who seemingly has nailed down the second base job, had a double, an RBI singled, scored a run and played flawlessly in the field. Manny Ramirez tagged Greinke for a home run and A.J. Ellis had a run-scoring single to put the Dodgers in the lead for the last time.

Rookie Carlos Monasterios made a relief appearance with runners at first and third and got an inning-ending strikeout to boost his stock. With the non-appearance of Ron Belisario, the Rule V pickup seems on his way to earning a spot on the staff.

Kansas City whacked out 15 hits and actually increased their American League-leading team average. George Sherrill had another less-than-fine appearance and Luis Ayala was tagged for a pair of runs in the ninth.

The Opening Day starters, Padilla and Greinke, faced each other with Padilla making his fourth Spring Training start and had a 4.50 ERA. Greinke, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, had allowed only one earned runs over 10 innings (0.90) in his three previous starts. Each of them had their ERA elevated by the time the game ended. Padilla ballooned to 6.28 and Greinke to 2.87.

The Royals were scoring 6+ runs per game and leading the American League in hitting (.306), with Alberto Callipso in second place hitting .458. The Dodgers team average was .263 and Casey Blake and Blake DeWitt topped the squad with .355 marks.

The Royals played with a designated hitter, the Dodgers without one. Yesterday it was reversed with Los Angeles using a DH and Milwaukee making their pitchers hit.

Pitcher's Day Disintegrates With Padilla and Greinke starting, the game figured to be low scoring and that was the way it worked out, going scoreless into the third before the Dodgers put one on the board.

However, Manny Ramirez slammed a two-out drive in the first inning with Andre Ethier on with a walk that Kansas City left-fielder David De Jesus ran down just at the wall.

KC designated hitter Billy Butler, hitting .391 coming into the game, drilled a shot off Blake's shoulder at third base that deflected to shortstop Rafael Furcal who threw into the dirt at first low and late. It was scored as a hit, booting Butler over the rarified .400 barrier. He moved to second, then third on ground ball outs. Padilla got the third out on a fly to right.

The Dodgers picked up their first hit in the third inning when Brad Ausmas lined a shot to left. Padilla bunted him to second, Furcal's ground ball moved him to third and Matt Kemp dropped a soft single into right field to drive in the first run. Ethier was called out on a checked swing and forcefully mention that he felt the ball was outside.

Former Dodger Wilson Betemit one-hopped the center field wall for a double leading off the fourth inning. Butler slapped a single to right, Betemit stopping at third. Jose Guillen bounced into a rare, 3-2-5-3 fielder's choice for the first out. Willie Bloomquist again bounced to Loney. He threw to second but was pulled off the bag but threw to first for the out. Another odd scoring play, this one went 3-6-3 with only one out being recorded. Furcal was given an error as the run scored.

The score didn't remain tied long, in the bottom of the inning Ramirez lined a 1-2 pitch into the left field berm and the Dodgers led 2-1. Blake grounded a single into center for the Dodgers fourth hit but was quickly thrown out at second stealing. The out was costly when DeWitt lined a double down the left field line. A.J. Ellis, who took over for Ausmus in the inning before, grounded an RBI single into right. Despite Belliard's pitch count (73) he was allowed to bat and popped up but L.A. led 3-1.

It was an inning to far for Padilla. Perhaps the Dodgers wanted to stretch him out longer.

Whichever it was, when the smoke cleared the Royals had sent nine men to the plate and pounded out a triple and four singles, scoring four runs. Padilla's pitch count hit 91 before Ramon Troncoso trotted in out of the bullpen bringing with him a 7.94 earned run average over his previous five appearances. Although he allowed an RBI double on his first pitch, he put out the fire but the Dodgers trailed 5-3 into the last of the inning.

Greinke, off the hook, retired Los Angeles in order in the fifth.

George Sherrill came in to work the sixth and hit a batter, then walked the next. DeWitt made a good play on a bunt, gobbling it up in the middle of the infield grass and forcing the runner at second. A bloop single to left drove in the Royals sixth run and brought rookie Carlos Monasterios in out of the bullpen, who is a strong candidate for a spot on the staff. He didn't hurt his cause with an inning-ending strikeout with runners at first and third.

After Ramirez took a third strike in the sixth, Loney cracked a line drive off the right-center field wall. Greinke struck out Blake and left the game after 93 pitches. Kansas City brought in a left-hander to face DeWitt and on a hit-and-run play, DeWitt singled to left scoring Loney.

Jonathan Broxton pitched the seventh, allowing an infield hit, then retired the next three Royals. Jeff Weaver was perfect in the eighth and Luis Ayala took over in the ninth. He allowed a home run to outfielder Kila Ka'aihue, his third of the spring. Ayala also coughed up two singles and a double that drove in a second run in the inning.

The final eight Dodgers were retired in order, four of them by strikeouts.

Belliard's Contract Guaranteed
Manager Joe Torre said infielder Ronnie Belliard's contract for 2009 will be guaranteed since the infielder has met the required weight clause (209 pounds) in his contract. "I never worried about that," he said. Belliard will receive $825,000, a figure he would have received anyway had he made the opening day roster. Belliard will back up Casey Blake at third and will be used at a pinch-hitter as well as at first and second base as needed.

Probable Pitchers vs Seattle, Saturday, March 27: RHP Charlie Haeger and RHP Russ Ortiz.

 Score by innings
Kansas City	000 141 002-8
Los Angeles	001 200 000-4

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	3  0  0  0  .205
 Carroll ss	1  0  0  0  .333
Kemp cf	        3  0  1  1  .295
 Belliard 1b	1  0  1  0  .179
Ethier rf	2  0  0  0  .277
 Paul cf	1  0  0  0  .276
Ramirez lf	3  1  1  1  .321
 Green ss	1  0  0  0  .192
Loney 1b	3  1  1  0  .314
 Hu 2b	        1  0  0  0  .190
Blake 3b	3  0  1  0  .353
 Repko rf	1  0  0  0  .083
DeWitt 2b	3  1  2  1  .372
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Weaver p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Anderson ph	1  0  0  0  .360
 Ayala p	0  0  0  0  .000
Ausmus c	1  1  1  0  .188
 Ellis c	3  0  1  1  .300
Padilla p	1  0  0  0  .000
 Troncoso p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Sherrill p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Johnson lf	2  0  0  0  .282
 Totals	        34 4  9 2
 Royals	        42 8 15 8

 Error- Furcal (4). Two-base hits- DeWitt (3),
Loney (3). HR- Ramirez (2). RBI- Kemp (8),
Ramirez (4), Ellis (3), DeWitt (6). S- Padilla.
RISP- Los Angeles 3-for-7, Kansas City 7-for-24.
CS- Blake. DP- Carroll, Hu and Belliard.

 Los Angeles	 in  h  r-er bb so  era
Belliard	4.1  8  5-5  1  4  6.28
Troncoso	0.2  1  0-0  0  0  7.11
Sherrill	0.2  1  1-1  2  0  5.06
Monasterios	0.1  0  0-0  0  0  2.19
Broxton	        1.0  1  0-0  0  0  2.70
Weaver	        1.0  0  0-0  0  0  5.14
Ayala	        1.0  4  2-2  0  0  5.40
 PB- Ellis. T- 3:10. Att- 7,589.
Dodger Blue Notes: Yesterday, Chad Billingsley visited with troops at nearby Luke Air Force Base and today, Special Advisor to the Chairman and Hall of Fame Manager Tommy Lasorda will spread goodwill to the troops at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona. Lasorda routinely makes visits to Armed Forces installations and has visited over 40 bases worldwide. Earlier this spring, he visited the U.S. Air Force Academy and last summer traveled to the Middle East on a USO tour. ...Going into the game, catcher A.J. Ellis leads all NL Cactus Leaguers in walks (9), while ranking fifth in on-base percentage (.459). Second baseman Blake DeWitt ranks sixth in on-base percentage at .458 while on the mound, Dodger pitchers hold four of the top 10 spots in ERA with Ramon Ortiz (1.29, 1st), Russ Ortiz (2.08, 6th), Carlos Monasterios (2.25, 7th) and Hiroki Kuroda (2.51, T-8). Chad Billingsley (1.86) and Clayton Kershaw (1.80) would rank among the league leaders in ERA, but do not have enough innings to qualify for the league leaders. Ramon Ortiz also leads NL Cactus League pitchers with 19 strikeouts in Spring Training. ...Happy birthday to Special Assistant to the GM Jose Vizcaino. Vizcaino played for the Dodgers from 1989-90 and 1998-2000 and enters his third season in the front office after an 18-year Major League career. --Dodgers Publicity

LA Dodgers Insider Top Stories