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Mitchell homers to tie it in the ninth

CHICAGO -- Unless Saturday really is the end of the world, the most stunning event of the week has to be the beleaguered Dodgers' 6-4 win over the White Sox in 10 innings on Friday night, opening Interleague Play.

The Dodgers fielded six position starters with batting averages of .233 or lower and a No. 3 hitter in an 0-for-22 slump. They were down a run, and down to their last out of the game, when rookie Russell Mitchell (with an .067 average at the time) hit the Hail Mary, a tying home run sliced just inside the left-field foul pole. Mitchell was playing because Aaron Miles has a strained left rib-cage muscle and is in the big leagues because Rafael Furcal and Casey Blake are disabled.

In the 10th, Jamey Carroll started the winning three-run rally with his fourth hit of the game, journeyman Juan Castro -- playing because Juan Uribe suffered a new injury, a strained hip flexor -- put the Dodgers in front with a cue-shot single for his first hit of the year, James Loney doubled home one run and Jay Gibbons singled home another.

Naturally, with the Dodgers possessing no closer, the bottom of the 10th was a thriller. Manager Don Mattingly used three relievers, Mitchell made a game-saving defensive grab, Scott Elbert retired Adam Dunn with two runners on base and Mike MacDougal got the final out for his first save in two years. MacDougal's save gave the Dodgers their first victory of the season in a game which they trailed after the seventh or eighth inning.

"That's the kind of win you can build on," said Mattingly, whose club had lost five of its previous six. "The last couple of days, we were right on the edge, not getting it done, and after a while, it keeps deflating you."

As if eight players on the disabled list weren't bad enough, the Dodgers had the added handicap of flying all night after Thursday night's loss to the Giants; They pulled into their Chicago hotel at 6:30 a.m. CT

"It's great for our team, to travel the way we did last night, to have guys coming through," said Carroll, the steadiest of all Dodgers as the fill-in for the injured Furcal, who could return by Sunday.

The game was played in a fog cloud that settled into U.S. Cellular Field, and the Dodgers' offense was in one as well between Matt Kemp's two-run homer in the first and Mitchell's shocker in the ninth, which hung the first runs and blown save of the season on White Sox closer Sergio Santos.

"I played with Sergio in the [Arizona] Fall League and I know he loves the heater," said Mitchell. "I was looking for something hard and got good wood on it. I'm trying to step up for the team. It's nice to contribute and get us a big win."

Said Santos: "I do everything off of my fastball. That's what sets up my slider and my changeup. If I throw the guy a slider the pitch before where I want, I'm pretty confident the game would have been over. I didn't. I missed, and he hit the ball."

Mattingly has been impressed with Mitchell's defensive versatility and mental toughness.

"It was a big hit for the club and a big hit for me to get my confidence up," Mitchell said. "The dugout erupted and that's a good feeling. Running around the bases, I knew the team was pumped up. It's a feeling we hadn't felt, a confidence builder."

Mitchell's heroics weren't over. Taking over after two more overpowering innings from winner Kenley Jansen, Matt Guerrier allowed singles to Omar Vizquel and Juan Pierre to start the bottom of the 10th, and Alexei Ramirez hit a smash to Mitchell's left. Guarding the line, Mitchell scrambled to glove it and fired to first for one out. Elbert and MacDougal closed it out.

Mattingly said he isn't fazed when he makes out a lineup like the one he fielded for this game.

"I just look at the pieces and see how they fit," he said. "[Their batting averages], that's all passed. It is what it is. I try to get success out of them. We ask them to keep working to get better. These are the guys we have."

Dodgers starter Ted Lilly went seven innings, overcoming an odd two-out rally in the second inning when the White Sox rapped out five consecutive hits, including a two-run homer by Gordon Beckham. Lilly then abandoned his curveball, went to the slider and allowed only two hits over his last 5 1/3 innings.

Jansen has not allowed a run in his last 10 appearances over 10 2/3 innings with 18 strikeouts. Comments