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DODGER REPORT

Consistent Mota Finds Strike Zone

May 16, 2003|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

While much of the Dodger bullpen has succumbed to injury or ineffectiveness in the past week, the most reliable reliever has been the right-hander who was one of the team's most inconsistent pitchers in 2002: Guillermo Mota.

Mota threw two perfect innings, striking out three, in Wednesday night's 5-1 victory over the Braves, extending his scoreless streak to 11 1/3 innings in seven outings. During that span, he has given up one hit and struck out 12, lowering his earned-run average to 1.07 in 20 games.

The bullpen as a whole has been shaky of late, giving up 13 earned runs in the last 14 1/3 innings for an 8.16 ERA -- this, after Dodger relievers combined for a major league-best 1.31 ERA in the first 34 games.

Relievers had also allowed only three of their first 37 inherited runners to score, but six of their last nine inherited runners have scored.

Setup man Paul Quantrill gave up the winning run Tuesday night, closer Eric Gagne was bombed for four runs in the ninth inning Monday night, and left-hander Tom Martin failed to retire any of the five batters he faced in Montreal last weekend.

With Quantrill struggling to find a comfort zone, Paul Shuey in the final stages of his recovery from a sprained right knee -- he's expected to be activated Saturday -- and Troy Brohawn on the disabled list because of rotator-cuff tendinitis, Mota could assume a more prominent bullpen role, pitching more often in the seventh and eighth innings of close games the Dodgers are leading.

"What sways me in the direction of Mota getting more responsible innings is the guy throws strikes," Manager Jim Tracy said. "You work so hard to get a one-run lead late in the game, you don't want to [throw] it away with a leadoff walk."

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Shuey had a rough minor league rehabilitation start for triple-A Las Vegas on Thursday night, giving up two hits, including a three-run homer to Salt Lake's Adam Riggs, in one inning. Shuey struck out one and walked one during his 26-pitch stint.

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The Glendale branch of the Los Angeles District Attorney's office was presented Thursday with Mota's alcohol-related arrest case and is expected to decide by next week whether to file charges or reject the case, an office spokesperson said.

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Though Jeffrey Smulyan's bid to purchase the Dodgers essentially was rejected when News Corp. informed the radio entrepreneur Tuesday it would not part with the six television stations he wanted as part of the deal, Smulyan has no plans to officially withdraw the offer.

According to an executive familiar with negotiations, Smulyan wants his offer to stand in case News Corp. hits a snag and is unable to complete its expected deal with Tampa Bay Buccaneer owner Malcolm Glazer, the favorite to buy the team.

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ON DECK

Opponent -- Florida Marlins, three games.

Site -- Dodger Stadium.

TV -- Fox Sports Net 2 tonight, Channel 13 Saturday night and Sunday.

Radio -- KFWB (980), KWKW (1330).

Records--Dodgers 21-20, Marlins 19-23.

2002 Record vs. Marlins--3-3.

Saturday, 7 p.m. -- Odalis Perez (2-2, 3.23) vs. Michael Tejera (0-1, 5.79).

Sunday, 1 p.m. -- Hideo Nomo (4-4, 3.23) vs. Brad Penny (2-2, 4.35).

Tickets -- (323) 224-1448.

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