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Dodger Way to Play Isn't Good in Loss

April 15, 2001|JASON REID | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN DIEGO — How little does $110 million buy these days?

The Dodgers are finding out the hard way after another poor display of fielding, baserunning and general baseball aptitude Saturday night in the San Diego Padres' 5-4 victory at Qualcomm Stadium.

The club with the major leagues' highest opening-day payroll embarrassed itself before a crowd of 50,750 in dropping the first two games of a three-game series.

The Padres scored the winning run in the ninth inning on pinch-hitter Alex Arias' one-out sacrifice fly to right off reliever Gregg Olson (0-1), less than 24 hours after Arias delivered the game-winner in Friday's 5-4, 10-inning victory.

Padre closer Trevor Hoffman (2-1) pitched another perfect inning to earn his second victory in as many nights.

The Dodgers wasted Gary Sheffield's second multihomer game in four days, playing the game the way it's not supposed to be played.

At least they acknowledged as much.

"The last two nights we haven't played like we're supposed to be playing," first baseman Eric Karros said. "It doesn't matter what teams you play against if you give teams extra outs and don't move guys over.

"If you do those things, you're going to be in trouble and that's where we've found ourselves the last two nights. Like I said, we're not playing well."

Right fielder Shawn Green, left fielder Sheffield, center fielder Tom Goodwin and shortstop Alex Cora all made major mistakes defensively.

Green's miscue in the ninth contributed to the winning run.

With one out and Mike Darr at first after a leadoff walk, Ben Davis sent a soft line drive to right.

Green appeared to take a wrong angle, the ball bounced past him and Darr advanced to third and Davis had a double.

Arias, pinch-hitting for Donaldo Mendez, sent Green into shallow foul ground down the right-field line, and Darr beat Green's two-bounce throw home for the winning run.

There were also mistakes offensively.

Goodwin made a poor baserunning decision in the sixth, and Hiram Bocachica failed to advance Alex Cora in the seventh after he led off with a double and the Padres leading, 4-3. Cora was thrown out at third on Bocachica's sacrifice bunt.

"We've got to execute, that's all there is to it," second baseman Mark Grudzielanek said. "We as a team are not doing the job to get the guys in the situations to succeed in."

Sheffield misplayed a ball in the sixth that helped the Padres take the lead, but he atoned for his mistake in the eighth with a solo homer to left against reliever Tom Davey that tied the score, 4-4.

In the first, Sheffield hit a two-run shot to left against Padre starter Brian Tollberg.

Sheffield has six homers on the season, five on this trip.

The Dodgers went ahead, 3-2, in the sixth on Karros' run-scoring single, but did not look sharp taking the lead.

Leadoff batter Goodwin singled to start the inning and advanced to second on Grudzielanek's sacrifice bunt.

The Padres intentionally walked Sheffield, and Green sent Bubba Trammell to the wall in left-center, but Goodwin inexplicably did not tag and move to third.

Fortunately for the Dodgers, Karros' bouncer through the middle eluded smooth-fielding shortstop Mendez and Goodwin scored.

But Gagne failed to preserve the lead and was removed after the sixth.

He walked Padre leadoff batter Damian Jackson, and with two out hit Phil Nevin with a pitch.

Then came Sheffield's miscue.

Darr hit a ball to shallow left that Sheffield came in on, stopped and appeared to lose the ball in the lights before slipping.

Darr wound up with a two-run double and the Padres regained the lead, 4-3.

Gagne gave up two hits and four runs (three earned) in a 92-pitch, 54-strike outing. He struck out six and walked three.

"We created some opportunities for them," Manager Jim Tracy said. "Offensively, we haven't completely gotten going yet.

"Right now, Gary's doing a lot of damage, but collectively we just haven't gotten into full gear offensively. Little things like that get magnified."

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