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04/02/08 3:34 AM ET
Heady baserunning helps Dodgers win
Furcal drives in two runs, dashes home with game-decider
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- Derek Lowe got knocked out, Larry Bowa got thrown out, but the Dodgers managed to pull out a 3-2 win over the Giants anyway with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning Tuesday night. Rookie Delwyn Young's infield single that second baseman Ray Durham couldn't smother trickled into shallow right field as Rafael Furcal raced home from second base. It's the first time the Dodgers have started a season 2-0 since 2000. Waving Furcal home was Mariano Duncan, normally the first-base coach who changed boxes (and stayed in it) when third-base coach Larry Bowa defied crew chief Ed Montague, resulting in what the 31-year veteran umpire called "one of the dumbest ejections I've ever had." For most of the night, however, the Dodgers played smart. Lowe dueled Giants starter Matt Cain through six scoreless innings, but was drilled on the back of his lower left leg by Jose Castillo's comebacker that loaded the bases in what became a two-run top of the seventh. Lowe fired his glove into the dugout wall when he left, but he is not expected to miss his next start, according to manager Joe Torre. The Dodgers responded in the bottom of the inning with rookie Blake DeWitt's leadoff single, Mark Sweeney's pinch-single, then a daring double steal with DeWitt barely beating catcher Bengie Molina's throw to third and pinch-runner Chin-lung Hu trailing into second. That set up Furcal's tying two-run single, after Furcal fouled off a bunt. "We don't have a lot of home run hitters, so we can't stand around, we need to be aggressive, we need to take chances," said Furcal, who drove in a pair and scored the other run. "You take an extra base like that, you can win a game." Which is what Furcal did two innings later. His one-out single off Keiichi Yabu was followed by a walk to Russell Martin, and Andre Ethier, who had three earlier hits, struck out. Young was batting for winning reliever Takashi Saito, who struck out the side in the top of the ninth. It was a triumphant first hit for Young, who struggled to bat .179 this spring, made the club as a switch-hitting pinch-hitter mainly because he was out of options and was in pain all day because of a root canal. "I had a hole in my bat this spring," said Young, who hit .382 during last September's callup. "Tonight I got just enough of it. What happened in the spring doesn't matter now." Lowe escaped a second-inning jam when rookie Brian Bocock singled to center with runners on first and second and two out, but Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery held Molina at third base rather than test new center fielder Andruw Jones' arm. Cain struck out to end the threat. For Lowe, it was another solid effort without a victory to show for it, but an improvement on his 0-3 record as a Dodgers Opening Day starter. "Compared to my other first starts, this is like a complete-game shutout," said Lowe. "Any time I start with an ERA under 10, all in all, I'll take it." Joe Beimel relieved Lowe and walked Bocock on a 3-2 pitch to break the scoreless tie. One out later, Beimel allowed an RBI bloop single by pinch-hitter Eugenio Velez. Ramon Troncoso, in his Major League debut, followed Beimel and cut off the rally by getting Rich Aurilia on an inning-ending double play. "That was the key to the night," Torre said of Troncoso, who came out of nowhere to grab Rudy Seanez's middle relief role with a grounder-inducing sinker. One of the more entertaining moments of the game came in that sixth inning when Bowa was ejected by Montague for straying out of the coach's box. Bowa threw a tantrum and had to be restrained by Torre, then bench coach Bob Schaefer, then Bowa overturned a cooler full of Gatorade in the dugout before leaving.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.