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Dodgers' Offense Provides the Relief

Bullpen lets 5-1 lead get away, then McGriff's homer sparks 9-5 victory over Expos.

May 10, 2003|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

MONTREAL — A dramatic role reversal occurred Friday night at Olympic Stadium, and the Dodgers were elated about the turn of events.

The major league's leading bullpen needed help for a change, and the offense took charge in a 9-5 victory over the Montreal Expos.

"For those guys to bounce back, it makes a statement to our bullpen that says, 'Hey, we recognize what you have done for us to this point, and now that you stubbed your toes a little bit, it's our turn to pick you up,' " said Manager Jim Tracy, whose team rallied for four runs in the eighth inning after blowing a 5-1 lead.

"That's a sign of a ballclub that's building a lot of character. And tonight, in my opinion, was a character-building-type game."

After left-hander Tom Martin faltered in relief of Kevin Brown, who had his fourth strong performance in as many starts, and Guillermo Mota gave up a tying hit, the Dodgers staged an impressive two-out rally to stun the Expos and a crowd of 10,675.

With the score tied, 5-5, Fred McGriff triggered the big inning. The 17-year veteran hit a solo home run -- his fourth of the season and 482nd of his career -- against Expo left-hander Scott Stewart (2-1). Cesar Izturis also contributed a two-run, bases-loaded single.

McGriff and Alex Cora had three hits apiece to pace a 15-hit attack. Backups David Ross and Mike Kinkade made major contributions too.

Ross, starting behind the plate with Paul Lo Duca taking a break, hit his first home run of the season and second of his career. He also singled and walked to force in a run.

Kinkade, playing left field with Brian Jordan getting a day off, was two for three with a double.

The Dodgers (19-17) matched their season-high winning streak of three games, moving two games above .500 for the first time. Mota (2-1) pitched three innings to defeat his former club in his first game at Olympic Stadium since joining the Dodgers last spring.

The Dodgers improved to 3-1 on the trip on a night it appeared things would be easy through the first six innings. Although it was more difficult than expected, the Dodgers are pleased about what they learned in the struggle.

"It was awesome," said Martin, whose earned-run average ballooned from 0.71 to 3.55 after he faced four batters, failed to record an out and was charged with four earned runs.

"I got my head kicked in, and that's fine if we win. If we lose, it just compounds how bad I pitched. I created a mess out there, and those guys [the Expos] did what they were supposed to do.

"But you know what? Our offense came back and did what they were supposed to do. That's just to let you know that we can come back and put a whoopin' on somebody. Our guys come back and put up a four-spot with two out."

It wasn't surprising McGriff got them started. Since April 20, he has gone 24 for 66 to raise his average from .177 to .279. He drove in two runs Friday -- including the towering solo shot into the right-field seats against Stewart.

"What was really good about Fred tonight was the at-bats he had against left-handed pitching," Tracy said. "The home run off of Stewart ... you can tell that Fred is starting to see the baseball really well.

"No question about it. From the types of swings that he's having, from the bat speed you're now beginning to see, it's starting to happen for Fred."

Brown, who has a 1.61 earned-run average in his last four outings, gave up six hits and one run in six innings.

With the Dodger bullpen being as good as it has been, Brown had no problem being removed for a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded in the sixth and a chance to break the game open.

"That's a good win for us," Brown said. "To have things go against us like that, and then turn around and come back and win it, hopefully that's some momentum to build off of."

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