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Dodgers erased in triplicate

Angels get their third triple play of the spring in a 6-1 Freeway Series victory. Dodgers get only five hits, all singles, and Wolf isn't especially sharp.

March 30, 2007|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

The Dodgers and Angels snoozed through the first few innings of the Freeway Series opener Thursday, two teams getting in their work and adjusting to the bright lights after a month of mostly day games.

If you tuned out too soon, well, too bad. The Angels beat up on the Dodgers, 6-1, and that wasn't the only beating up going on.

The game got thoroughly entertaining in the seventh inning, when the Angels turned their third triple play of the spring. In the eighth inning, Angels rookie Nick Gorneault absolutely flattened Dodgers catcher Mike Lieberthal in a collision at home plate, one so severe Dodgers pitcher Joe Beimel had to throw a couple of warmup pitches so trainers could make sure the catcher could continue.

And, later in the eighth inning, a fight on the reserved level attracted so much attention that the crowd yelled "Whoa!" while Casey Kotchman stood at home plate awaiting a pitch. Apparently, Gorneault wasn't the only one in the ballpark knocking someone over; Dodgers spokesman Josh Rawitch said several fans were ejected.

The game details? Not so interesting. Orlando Cabrera had three hits, including the third double in the Angels' three-run second inning against Dodgers starter Randy Wolf. A tag team of Angels pitchers -- Hector Carrasco, Scot Shields, Chris Bootcheck, Chris Resop and Alex Serrano -- held the Dodgers to five hits, all singles.

In the seventh, after Resop started the inning by walking Olmedo Saenz and Andy LaRoche, the Angels played their special spring trump card.

The triple play, of course -- for the third time this spring. They haven't turned a triple play in the regular season since 1997. In 46 years in existence, they've turned six.

"Well," Manager Mike Scioscia said with a grin, "we wanted to improve our defense."

Brady Clark, acquired this week in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, made his first Dodgers at-bat a memorable one. With the count full and the runners going, Clark lined to second baseman Howie Kendrick, who caught the ball, ran to tag the base for the second out, then threw to first for the third out.

"It made for kind of an easy triple play," Kendrick said.

So the Angels came to bat in the eighth inning. With two on and one out, Kendrick singled. Gorneault started from second base, stopped to make sure the ball dropped, then charged home. The relay got there right at the moment that Gorneault barreled over Lieberthal.

"Mike's a tough guy that's going to hang in there," Scioscia said. "Nick's trying to make the team. That's what happens."

Gorneault is in contention for the final spot on the Angels' bench, a 27-year-old hoping to make his major league debut after two years in triple A. Lieberthal sensed as much.

"It was probably a young kid trying to make an impression," Lieberthal said. "I'm glad I wasn't hurt."

However, he said he was dizzy immediately after the collision and still had a headache.

Neither Dodgers Manager Grady Little nor Lieberthal expressed any animosity toward Gorneault, even given this was an exhibition game.

"I don't know about a dirty play," Lieberthal said. "I like to play hard."

Said Little: "It happens. That's the way you play baseball. It doesn't matter when you play."

The Angels tagged Wolf for three runs and four hits in the second inning. He was working on a 60-pitch count, and he was done after three innings.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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