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Green, Sheffield Provide the Power Dodgers Need

May 01, 2000|PAUL GUTIERREZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Dodgers were taking batting practice Friday when Alex Fernandez emerged from the visitors' dugout at Dodger Stadium. The Florida Marlin starter walked toward Gary Sheffield and Kevin Brown, a pair of his former teammates on the 1997 World Series championship team.

The trio exchanged hugs and handshakes behind the batting cage that day, knowing that Fernandez would not be pitching against the Dodgers, and Brown against the Marlins, until the final game of the series.

Sunday, Shawn Green was the one happy to see Fernandez.

The Dodgers' $84-million right fielder tagged the Florida ace for two home runs and led the Dodgers to a 7-1 win over the Marlins in front of 31,940, completing a three-game sweep.

"I had faced Alex Fernandez in the past in the American League in interleague play so it was nice to face someone that I had seen before," said Green, who went two for three with a walk and three runs batted in. "I think it's going to happen as the season goes on. It's going to get better as I start seeing guys a couple of times."

Green jumped on Fernandez right away.

After Sheffield took Fernandez deep in the first inning for his 10th home run, Green followed suit, taking a 2-and-0 sinker the other way to left-center. It was the first time the Dodgers hit consecutive home runs since Eric Karros and Todd Hollandsworth did it at Pittsburgh last July 19.

In the fifth inning, Green pulled a 2-and-2 Fernandez fastball for a two-run shot, his fifth homer of the season. It also marked the 10th time in his career he had gone deep twice in a game, last accomplishing the feat July 4, 1999, for the Toronto Blue Jays against Tampa Bay.

"I had an idea of how [Fernandez] likes to pitch me," Green said. "He's a tough pitcher and he's the kind of guy that doesn't make too many mistakes so you've got to take advantage of it when he does."

Brown, making his second start since coming off the disabled list, made only one mistake that cost him, giving up a one-out homer to Derrek Lee in the seventh inning.

Brown (2-1) got the win while going seven innings, giving up one run and three hits. He struck out seven and walked three. Terry Adams closed it out with a perfect two-inning stint.

"It's a lot easier to pitch when you've got guys like that in the middle of the lineup, putting runs on the board," Brown said. "Shawn's addition to the lineup gives us a lot more balance."

Florida Manager John Boles agreed.

"Green is a quality player and showed why he's one of the high prospects," said Boles, whose team has dropped five in a row. "He doesn't leave much to the imagination."

Though you have to wonder what Boles was thinking in the seventh inning.

With two out and Mark Grudzielanek on second base with a ground-rule double, Florida intentionally walked Sheffield to get to Green, who had already homered twice, to play the percentages and have Green face Marlin left-handed reliever Armando Almanza.

No matter, Almanza walked Green before Eric Karros singled in Grudzielanek and Sheffield for the final margin.

Karros went two for three with three RBIs.

Sheffield, Green and Karros, the Dodgers' 3-4-5 hitters, went a combined five for eight with seven RBIs.

Dodger Manager Davey Johnson, who likes to quote former Baltimore Oriole manager Earl Weaver on his fondness of playing for the three-run home run, said he's happy with the middle of his lineup.

"I just like good hitting," Johnson said. "I've always tried to put my best offense out there. Certainly, with Sheff, Green, Karros, those type of people out there, you're going to score some runs."

The Dodgers scored 25 runs in the three-game sweep of the Marlins and next face the Atlanta Braves, who are riding a 13-game winning streak as they come into town for a three-game series beginning tonight.

The last time the Dodgers took on the Braves, the Atlanta pitching staff silenced the Dodger bats.

"They've got good pitchers and they're leading the league in pitching," Johnson said. "So we're going to have to pitch well and play well to beat them."

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