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Nomo Missing in His Return

His pitches are high, and he gives up five runs in five innings in the Dodgers' 7-1 loss to the Blue Jays.

June 09, 2004|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

TORONTO — The Dodgers had eagerly anticipated Hideo Nomo's return to the mound Tuesday night, hoping the right-hander would rediscover the form that has eluded him to this point.

Unfortunately for them, the struggling pitcher resumed where he had left off in a 7-1 interleague loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at the SkyDome.

A Toronto batting order missing injured All-Star first baseman Carlos Delgado pounded Nomo (3-6) for six hits and five earned runs in five innings in his first start since May 19. That was more than enough support for sharp left-hander Ted Lilly (5-2) and two relievers in the opener of the Dodgers' first regular-season series here before 16,499.

"It was a little bit better than the numbers really appear," said Manager Jim Tracy, whose team dropped to 2-2 on the trip. "In a couple of instances, Hideo had hitters in a position that he would like to have them in.

"He did a great job of getting them to two strikes, then I think he made a couple of pitches where he would like to have had the location be a little bit different. Beyond that, I thought Ted Lilly did a very credible job for them."

Nomo wasn't sharp on rejoining the rotation after suffering a split fingernail on his right index finger three weeks ago against Philadelphia.

The bottom of the Blue Jays' batting order twice burned Nomo, who had one rehabilitation start before being activated from the disabled list.

He gave up a two-strike, two-run single to No. 7 batter Chris Woodward in a three-run, 37-pitch first inning. Nomo, who threw 65 strikes in 100 pitches, also gave up a two-strike, two-run double to Howie Clark, who batted eighth, as the Dodgers fell behind by five runs in the third. Clark also hit a two-run home run in the eighth against Darren Dreifort.

Nomo said location was his problem, but his nail wasn't a factor.

"They got my high pitches, so I think I should have tried to get my pitches a little lower," Nomo said through an interpreter.

Meanwhile, Lilly befuddled the Dodgers in an impressive 7 1/3-inning performance, losing his shutout bid on Shawn Green's 419-foot solo shot -- his eighth home run -- to center in the eighth.

The former Dodger prospect mixed his pitches well while striking out seven with one walk. The Dodgers had seven hits against Lilly, but went hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position. They were especially frustrated in the seventh, failing to produce a run after putting runners on second and third with no out.

"We had people out there, but we couldn't get the hit off of him to get ourselves involved in the ballgame," Tracy said. "We had some chances.

"We had the second-and-third, no-out situation and he got out of it. He made the pitches he had to make when we had baserunners on base."

Green (a homer and a double) had a productive game, and Cesar Izturis extended his hitting streak to 15 games, matching the longest streak by a Dodger shortstop since Maury Wills hit in 20 consecutive games in 1965.

However, Nomo is still searching.

His problems started quickly on consecutive doubles by leadoff batter Reed Johnson and Chris Gomez in the first, giving the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead.

After Frank Catalanotto flied out, Vernon Wells hit a bloop single and Gregg Zaun walked to load the bases. It appeared Nomo might get out of the inning rather cheaply after Eric Hinske popped up, but Woodward singled to center to drive in two more runs to give the Blue Jays a 3-0 lead.

Pitching coach Jim Colborn said he saw encouraging signs from Nomo.

"I see a pitcher with stuff that can win a lot of games," Colborn said. "That game was much better than the numbers indicate. There were only a couple of balls hit hard. His forte is making pitches in a jam. Tonight, probably because he hasn't been out there for a while, he wasn't able to make that pitch to get out of the jam.

"Four of the runs were scored in those situations where he usually excels. The overall quality of his pitching was great. It was better than it's been for a while. I'm very encouraged."

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