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Braves Roll Seven, Beat Dodgers, 11-4

Dodgers: L.A. ties it at 4-4 in ninth inning, but new relievers are hit hard in the 12th.

April 22, 1999|STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The faces coming out of the Dodger bullpen are new.

But the results are becoming distressingly familiar.

Jeff Kubenka, just called up from triple-A Albuquerque, and Robinson Checo, obtained in a trade with the Detroit Tigers last week, tried to offer the injury-riddled, depleted Dodger bullpen relief Wednesday night.

Instead, they offered only more misery as the Atlanta Braves jumped on them for seven runs in the 12th inning in an 11-4 victory in front of what was left of a crowd of 31,902 at Dodger Stadium.

Mike Remlinger (1-0) got the victory, Kubenka (0-1) the loss.

Earlier, the ace of the Dodger staff, Kevin Brown, got hammered for a home run. So did the ace of their bullpen, Jeff Shaw.

After Chipper Jones hit a three-run homer off Brown in the third inning, Shaw, brought in with the score tied at 3-3 in the ninth, gave up a home run to Javy Lopez.

But the Dodgers tied it at 4-4 after Gary Sheffield doubled and Raul Mondesi and Eric Karros both walked. The next batter, Devon White, hit an fly ball deep enough into left field to bring Sheffield home. Otis Nixon subsequently dropped the ball, but despite a protest by Dodger Manager Davey Johnson, the umpires ruled that it was a catch and that Nixon had dropped the ball while attempting to throw it.

In the 12th, the Braves got run-scoring singles from Gerald Williams and Jones, a run-scoring fly ball from Bret Boone, a two-run double from Brian Jordan and a two-run homer from Lopez, his fourth of the season.

Jones' home run off Brown provided an ironic twist.

On opening day against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Mondesi was up with two runners aboard and his team trailing by three. Given the go-ahead to swing on a 3-0 count, Mondesi cracked a three-run homer that let Brown off the hook in a game the Dodgers eventually won in extra innings on another Mondesi homer.

Brown , given a 1-0 lead after a first-inning RBI single by Karros on Wednesday night, fell behind 3-0 in the count to Jones in the third inning with two men aboard. Brown was victimized this time on the 3-0 count, as Jones, given the hit sign, sent the pitch halfway up the right-field bleachers for his fifth home run to give the Braves a 3-1 lead.

The home run was the fourth allowed this season by Brown in four appearances. That's half the total he surrendered all last season in 36 appearances.

It was of little consolation to Brown, but the runs were unearned. After Walt Weiss had singled to open the inning, Nixon hit a grounder to second with one out that Eric Young tossed to shortstop Jose Vizcaino. But Vizcaino, with a shot at a double play, failed to hold onto the ball for even one out. Vizcaino, known more for his defense than his bat, was charged with an error.

Brown helped his cause at the plate in the fourth innning against the Braves' 20-year-old starter Odalis Perez. With Adrian Beltre on second via a double that extended his hitting streak to 10 games, Brown singled to left to to cut the Dodger deficit to 3-2. It was Brown's first hit of the season in his ninth at-bat.

After Young got aboard on a fielder's choice and stole his league-leading 15th base--and second of the game--Sheffield singled to score Young.

Brown gave the beleaguered Dodger bullpen a much-appreciated rest by working eight innings, allowing the Braves four hits and two walks, but nothing on the scoreboard other than Jones' home run. Brown struck out seven.

With Antonio Osuna on the disabled list because of a bone spur in his right elbow and Alan Mills unavailable because of a sore throwing shoulder, Johnson wanted to avoid going to the bullpen at least until it was time for short relief.

Having gotten his wish, he hit for Brown in the eighth with Jacob Brumfield, who grounded out. Young followed with a single but was denied his 16th stolen base when Lopez, taking advantage of a pitchout, threw him out.

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