Dodgers 6, Twins 5

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—The chant, which has a certain contagious cadence, echoed through Dodger Stadium even after the game was over and the fans headed for the exits: “Hee-Seop Choi! Hee-Seop Choi!”

With good reason.

Choi hit his second homer of the game in the ninth inning Friday night to give the Los Angeles Dodgers a 6-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

The meeting was the teams’ first since their memorable World Series nearly 40 years earlier.

Asked about the fans’ chanting his name every time he comes up—and obviously with great gusto after his walkoff homer—Choi grinned and said, “I like it. More energy. I hit that home run for the fans.”

Choi, who had a two-run homer in the first inning, drove reliever Terry Mulholland’s first pitch of the game high down the right-field line, with the ball hitting the foul pole screen.

Los Angeles starter Brad Penny, who gave up five runs in the first three innings then retired the next 12 batters in a row, kidded Choi after the game. The 26-year-old first baseman from South Korea had told Penny that maybe he would hit three homers in the game.

“I asked him, what happened to three? He said, `I had to bunt once,”’ Penny related with a chuckle.

Choi went 2-for-4, with a sacrifice bunt in the seventh inning.

The lefty-swinging Choi, who platoons at first with Olmedo Saenz, might not have batted against the left-handed Mulholland if Saenz hadn’t already been used as a pinch-hitter.

“I know I can hit left-handers,” Choi said.

The winning shot was his eighth homer of the year and third multihomer game of his career.

The Dodgers beat the Twins in the 1965 World Series when Sandy Koufax pitched Game 7 on two days’ rest and held Minnesota to three hits in a 2-0 victory.

The interleague series at Dodger Stadium is the first regular-season meeting between the teams.

Dodger relievers Duaner Sanchez, Yhency Brazoban and Eric Gagne combined to set down all nine batters they faced, making it 21 consecutive Minnesota batters to end the game.

“Their bullpen came in with some nasty people. We haven’t faced those guys, and they were making some good pitches and locating the ball very well,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Gagne (1-0) pitched a perfect ninth. Mulholland (0-2) threw just the one pitch.

The Dodgers’ Jeff Kent evened it 5-all in the sixth he reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second, continued to third on catcher Joe Mauer’s throwing error, and scored on a wild pitch by Minnesota starter Joe Mays.

Mays, who had a 1.80 ERA in his previous four starts, gave up five runs— three earned—in 5 1-3 innings.

Penny allowed five runs on nine hits in six innings.

Minnesota’s Shannon Stewart left the game in the fourth after making a running catch of Jason Grabowski’s fly in the left-field corner and crashing into the wall.

He bruised his left—non-throwing—wrist, and was replaced by Lew Ford. Stewart’s playing status is day-to-day.

“I was going full speed and I had no idea where the fence was,” he said. “I’m kind of sore all over and banged-up a little bit.”

Stewart, who had two doubles in the game, is hitting .294, with nine homers and 30 RBIs in 58 games.

After falling behind 4-1 in the opening inning, the Twins scored twice in each of the next two innings to take a 5-4 lead.

Jacque Jones led off the third against Penny with his ninth homer and third in as many games. The Twins went ahead when Justin Morneau tripled and scored from third on Michael Cuddyer’s groundout.

The Dodgers had gone up 4-1 in the first inning on Choi’s two-run shot, and two unearned runs that scored when Antonio Perez’s single to right field skipped past Jones in right field.


Twins 3B coach Al Newman missed his second game in a row to be back at his daughter’s high school graduation. He’s expected to rejoin the team over the weekend. … The Twins had wanted the series against the Dodgers to be played in Minnesota, the 50th anniversary of what was the Twin’s first World Series.

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