Perez shines as Dodgers even series
Lofton triples home run in first start with Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES -- The eighth-largest crowd in Dodger Stadium history -- 55,132 paid -- got a two-fer Saturday night. It got to see Odalis Perez corral the San Francisco Giants, 3-1, and also got ample opportunity to heckle Barry Bonds.Pitching seven innings, Perez (2-0) was as effective as Bonds was a non-factor. The latter went 0-for-1 against the former, grounding out to first in the sixth. "Perez was outstanding," said Dodgers manager Grady Little. "He gave us another great outing, and we're proud of that." Little liked the way Perez made the most of what Perez called "my out pitch," his changeup. "He put the pitch right where he wanted and was consistent in the middle innings," Little said. After characterizing his outing as "the best one" of his three this season, Perez gave his take on Bonds' current production, or lack of it. "As a pitcher, I have to go out there and face him," Perez said. "You see pitches that he used to hit good three, four, five, six, seven years ago, and he's not hitting them." Perez remarked on having thrown first-pitch strikes to Bonds both times he faced him. "I don't know if he's thinking too much or swinging at bad pitches. For him so far this season, it's been different. He's the same dangerous player. As a pitcher, I have to battle, challenge him and see what happens." Danys Baez pitched the ninth, giving up a leadoff double to Bonds before getting the next three batters to record his third save in as many opportunities. Jason Schmidt (0-2) took the loss, holding the Dodgers to three hits but giving up seven walks while striking out four. Dioner Navarro's bases-loaded ground ball to first baseman Lance Niekro with one out in the fourth inning pushed across Jeff Kent with the go-ahead run. Navarro got his second RBI in the eighth off Scott Munter, on in relief of Steve Kline, who pitched the seventh. Navarro singled with the bases loaded and two out, driving home Kent before Bill Mueller was thrown out at home by right fielder Randy Winn. "It was certainly good to get that insurance run, considering who they had coming up in the ninth," Little said of the Bonds-led final inning. Besides Ray Durham, who scored the Giants' lone run in the second inning on a single by Steve Finley, only two Giants reached second base against Perez, who allowed three hits while striking out two and walking three -- one of which was an intentional pass to Bonds in the second with first base open and Omar Vizquel at second with two out. The Dodgers tied it in the third when Kenny Lofton, making his first start of the season in center field, tripled home Rafael Furcal. Takashi Saito pitched a scoreless eighth for the Dodgers, giving up a one-out double to Winn. After a strong showing in Friday night's loss to the Giants, Saito sent a signal that he may be the man to fill the void left by setup man Yhency Brazoban's season-ending elbow injury. "Saito's making a case for me to call on him pretty often," Little said. Saito said of his situation, "I'm sorry that Brazoban got the injury. Now I'm thinking about what I have to do and the chance that I have. Pitching in Japan and America is different. The Major Leaguers are the best. I feel lucky to be here." The Dodgers no doubt feel luckier.
Ted Brock is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.