Dodgers 9, Giants 8

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—Milton Bradley was right where he wanted to be—at the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning of a close game.

So was San Francisco closer Armando Benitez, signed during the offseason for just these kinds of situations.

Bradley’s two-run single off Benitez tied the game, left fielder Jason Ellison’s error on the play allowed the winning run to score, and the Dodgers beat the Giants 9-8 Tuesday in their home opener.

“If I could go up there every time in a pressure situation, I might hit .400,” the switch-hitting Bradley said. `I want to be in that situation.”

The Giants led 8-5 entering the ninth, and Benitez (0-1) retired leadoff batter Jason Phillips on a grounder to short to start the inning. But pinch-hitter Ricky Ledee doubled and took third on Cesar Izturis’ single. After pinch-hitter Jose Valentin popped to first, J.D. Drew walked to load the bases.

Jeff Kent drew another walk to force in a run, making it 8-6, and Bradley followed by lining a 2-2 pitch to left. The ball got past Ellison and rolled to the wall, allowing Kent to score from first.

“I wanted to take a strike, and I knew that Benitez wouldn’t let me pull the ball,” Bradley said. “I was looking on the outer half of the plate.”

Ellison retrieved the ball after Kent had scored, and spiked it in anger on the warning track. The Dodgers mobbed Bradley on the infield.

The error was the Giants’ fourth of the game.

“What we’ve got here is a team that’s going to play nine innings,” Kent said. “You don’t see many balls like that go by an outfielder.”

The win was reminiscent of the Dodgers’ division-clinching rally from a 3-0 deficit on the second-to-last day of the season against the Giants last year— one of the factors that led San Francisco to pursue a proven closer like Benitez in the offseason.

“He’s at his best between 93 and 95 (mph),” Giants manager Felipe Alou said. “I saw him at 91, 92 and one at 94. He didn’t have much command and he got behind almost every hitter. He’ll be back in there tomorrow.”

Benitez was disappointed in himself.

“Today was not my day,” he said. “This isn’t the first time I’ve had a blown save. Nobody’s perfect—tomorrow’s a new day. My location was a little bit wild.”

Benitez had 47 saves for Florida last season and saves in his first two appearances with the Giants.

Ellison, who entered the game in the eighth, said he was trying to make a play at the plate on the tying run.

“The ball just took a kick on me,” he said. “I still have to get the glove on it. I’m going to come back and battle, do what I need to do, come back strong.”

Said Alou: “We had him playing shallow. He missed it. Ellie is here to be a defensive guy. He’s a very good defender. He’ll be OK. He was trying to make a play at the plate, he was trying to do what was right. I’ll take that over laying back.”

The late heroics took Jeff Weaver off the hook. Weaver, a local product in his second season with the Dodgers, had the honor of starting the home opener, but was roughed up for 11 hits and eight earned runs in three-plus innings.

The Los Angeles bullpen held the Giants scoreless after Pedro Feliz’s three-run homer with nobody out in the fourth make it 8-3. Giovanni Carrara (1-0) the fourth Dodgers pitcher, worked two scoreless innings to earn the victory after Buddy Carlyle and D.J. Houlton pitched two scoreless innings each.

Weaver hit Ray Durham to open the game and Omar Vizquel followed with a single. After J.T. Snow flied to deep left, the Giants scored five runs on consecutive RBI singles by Feliz, Edgardo Alfonzo, Marquis Grissom, Michael Tucker and Mike Matheny before Weaver retired the side.

Rookie Jason Repko hit a two-run homer off Kirk Rueter in the bottom half, and the Dodgers scored in the second on an RBI single by Phillips. But Feliz’s homer gave the Giants a five-run lead.

Rueter retired 11 straight batters before Repko reached on shortstop Vizquel’s error to open the sixth. After Drew singled and Kent walked to load the bases, Scott Eyre relieved Rueter. Bradley hit a sacrifice fly and Olmedo Saenz followed with an RBI double to make it 8-5 before.

San Francisco lost to snap a three-game winning streak despite collecting 16 hits, including four by Alfonzo.

Rueter gave up five hits and five runs—four earned—in five-plus innings.


The attendance was 55,892—the largest regular-season crowd in the history of Dodger Stadium, which opened in 1962. … Hall of Famer Duke Snider, who played for the Dodgers from 1947-62, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Snider was the center fielder in 1955, when the team won its only World Series while playing in Brooklyn. The franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1958. … When Vizquel booted Repko’s grounder, it snapped a 61-game errorless streak. It was Vizquel’s first error since July 25. … Izturis had three hits. He’s had at least two hits in six of his team’s seven games this season. … All the Giants were booed during pregame introductions, but none louder than home run king Barry Bonds, sidelined indefinitely following two arthroscopic surgeries on his right knee Jan. 31 and March 17.

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