Lo Duca had a key hit for the Florida Marlins during a two-run eighth inning, scored on a wild pitch and also threw out a runner at third on a double play, helping the defending World Series champions beat Los Angeles 4-2 on Monday night.
“They’re still my friends, but I’m happy that we won,” Lo Duca said. “When I scored that run, I was really emotional and my heart was beating about 150 miles an hour.”
Encarnacion scored the tying run after leading off the fifth inning with a single and stealing second. Mota retired Milton Bradley on an inning-ending double play in the eighth. And all three of the former Dodgers were treated like long-lost relatives by an appreciative sellout crowd of 53,121.
Lo Duca received a long standing ovation his first time up in his 600th major league game, and he acknowledged it by stepping out of the batter’s box and taking off his helmet. Umpire Bill Miller let him soak in the adoration a little while longer by wiping off home plate.
A few teenage girls in the stands holding “Welcome Back Paul” placards were still wiping away tears in the first inning when Lo Duca lined into an inning-ending double play started by third baseman Adrian Beltre. Lo Duca finished 1-for-4.
“It was unbelievable,” Lo Duca said. “You don’t realize it until you get to home plate. I couldn’t step in the box. I had to step out again. It was something I’ll never forget. It was pretty awesome.”
Miguel Cabrera homered and Mike Lowell singled home the go-ahead run for the Marlins, who are still ecstatic about the July 30 trade in which they swapped Brad Penny, Hee Seop Choi and minor league pitcher Bill Murphy for Lo Duca, Encarnacion and Mota.
Carl Pavano (13-5) allowed two runs and six hits in 7 1-3 innings, and set a career high for victories. He struck out three and walked two while improving to 5-1 against the Dodgers. This was the third start in which Lo Duca caught him.
“It was a bittersweet game for him, but we’re here to win ballgames,” Pavano said. “He’s a professional and he understands the business, and he’s our teammate now.
“He watched those guys over there day in and day out and he obviously knows their tendencies and weaknesses a little better than I do. So I took a lot of comfort in that and we were on the same page.”
The Marlins snapped a 2-2 tie in the eighth against Darren Dreifort (1-4). Lefty reliever Mike Venefro, acquired from Kansas City on Aug. 10, faced only one batter in his NL debut and plunked Juan Pierre just above the right elbow leading off the inning.
Pierre was thrown out by Brent Mayne trying to steal second after Dreifort came in, but the Marlins loaded the bases with a single by Lo Duca and two walks. Lowell got his 500th career RBI with a single that drove in Luis Castillo, and Lo Duca scored on Dreifort’s wild pitch.
Mota received a loud ovation when he came in to relieve Pavano in the eighth after a leadoff single by Steve Finley. The right-hander, whose role as Dodgers setup man for Eric Gagne was taken over by Dreifort after the trade, then got Bradley to hit into a double play.
Manager Jim Tracy remained noncommittal when pressed about Dreifort’s status as his setup man.
“We’ll reassess the situation tomorrow,” Tracy said. “The key for Darren is throwing strikes, just like it is for anyone else. The worst thing in the world you can do is quit on a guy, but the eighth inning is so critical for us because of the guy we’ve got going in the ninth.”
The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the second with the help of consecutive two-out throwing errors by shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who had only eight in the previous 109 games he started this season.
The first error came on a grounder by Choi, who came around to score when Gonzalez made a diving stop of Alex Cora’s hard smash in the hole and missed Castillo entirely while trying for the force at second.
Cabrera tied it in the fourth against Jeff Weaver with his 25th homer.
The Dodgers regained the lead in the bottom half when Beltre led off with a double and scored from third on Choi’s groundout. But the Marlins pulled even again in the fifth.
Encarnacion led off with a single and stole second with two outs. He was held up at third on Pierre’s single to right, but continued home with Florida’s second run when the ball broke off Shawn Green’s glove for an error.
Weaver, trying to win his fourth straight start allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings with four strikeouts and two walks.
Gonzalez, whose 12th-inning homer off Weaver in Game 4 of the World Series gave the Marlins a 4-3 win over the New York Yankees, was 0-for-4. … Dodgers RHP Hideo Nomo pitched three innings in his first rehab start for Triple-A Salt Lake, allowing one earned run, four hits and no walks while striking out five at Sacramento.