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Atlanta at Los Angeles

New skipper Little earns first victory, 5-4 over Braves

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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LOS ANGELES -- J.D. Drew is a happy guy these days, and with good reason.

The main thing is, he's in good health. And he's off to an excellent start in his second season with the Los Angeles Dodgers after having a tough time last year.

Drew hit a two-run homer, Brad Penny pitched five strong innings and Los Angeles beat the Atlanta Braves 5-4 on a rainy Tuesday night for Grady Little's first victory as the Dodgers' manager.

Drew began last season by going hitless in his first 25 at-bats. Just when he got everything together, he broke his left wrist when he was hit by a pitch on July 3.

His season was over.

Through two games this year, Drew already has four hits, including his first homer in more than nine months.

"It's not a bad start. We have a long way to go. It's nice to get that win after what happened yesterday," he said, referring to an 11-10 loss to the Braves in the season opener. "I feel good, I'm healthy. I had to fine-tune a few things in the spring. I came into the season right where I want to be. I'll be fine as long as I don't get hit by a ball."

Drew has played more than 135 games only once in his career. That was two years ago, when he played in 145 in his only season with the Braves and achieved career bests in several offensive categories.

Penny allowed five hits and one run while walking none and striking out eight before being relieved by Jae Seo to start the sixth. Penny, who threw 92 pitches, didn't allow a hit after the second, retiring 10 of his last 11 batters to earn the win.

"I had good defense behind me and my off-speed pitch was working OK," Penny said. "I was throwing strikes."

Drew put Los Angeles ahead for good by hitting a 2-1 pitch from loser John Smoltz into the right-center seats in the first after Jose Cruz Jr. drew a one-out walk. The Dodgers got two more runs in the inning on RBI singles by Bill Mueller and Jason Repko.

Brian McCann hit a solo homer off Penny in the second, but the Dodgers got that run back in the third on Mueller's sacrifice fly.

Seo retired eight straight batters before back-to-back doubles by Matt Diaz and Andruw Jones with two outs in the eighth produced one run. Adam LaRoche hit a two-run homer, drawing the Braves within one.

Seo struck out pinch-hitter Brian Jordan to end the eighth, and Danys Baez worked the ninth for his first save in place of suspended closer Eric Gagne.

Smoltz was tagged for nine hits and five runs in five innings. The 38-year-old right-hander also was roughed up in his first start last season, giving up seven runs in 1 2-3 innings to Florida on opening day.

Smoltz admitted he was bothered by the inclement weather.

"I rely on grip -- I just struggled today with that," he said. "I'm a real feel guy. If it doesn't feel good, I'm not going to go with a pitch very often."

For example, he said, he was reticent to throw a slider after Drew hit one for his homer.

"I was looking forward," Smoltz said about the normally pleasant weather in Southern California. "It was brutal. I was tested to the max."

The Dodgers placed first baseman Nomar Garciaparra on the 15-day disabled list before the game because of a strained muscle in his right side and recalled James Loney, who went 1-for-3 with a walk in his major league debut.

The game began on time despite daylong rain that stopped about an hour before the start. There was a 25-minute delay in the bottom of the second.

The paid attendance was 36,249, but there were no more than a few thousand fans on hand when the first pitch was thrown and not many more showed up. The Dodgers announced that fans who had tickets for the game will receive a free ticket to one of two future games -- May 10 or May 22.

There have been only 17 rainouts in the 44-year history of Dodger Stadium, and none since April 17, 2000.

Notes:

  • Smoltz struck out three, giving him 2,570 strikeouts. He needs 11 to tie Hall of Famer Bob Feller for 23rd on baseball's career list.
  • Gagne dropped his appeal of a two-game suspension handed down last season and began serving it Tuesday night. He was suspended last April for violating terms of a previous penalty imposed by Major League Baseball, which stipulated he not be in uniform on the bench while he was on the disabled list.
  • The 21-year-old Loney had never played above Double-A, but made quite an impression over the past three springs. He hit .284 with 11 homers and 65 RBI in 138 games with Double-A Jacksonville last year. The Dodgers made him the 19th overall selection in the June 2002 draft.
  • McCann's homer was the sixth of his career in 61 big league games.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Jeff Kent greets J.D. Drew at home plate after scoring on Drew's two-run homer vs. Atlanta.  (AP)
Jeff Kent greets J.D. Drew at home plate after scoring on Drew's two-run homer vs. Atlanta. (AP)

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Atlanta Braves
Marcus Giles, 2B5010031 .375
Edgar Renteria, SS4010002 .333
Chipper Jones, 3B3010000 .333
    Matt Diaz, RF11100001.000
Andruw Jones, CF4111022 .375
Adam LaRoche, 1B4112032 .222
Jeff Francoeur, RF3000010 .000
    Chuck James, P0000000 .000
   a- Brian Jordan, PH1000010 .000
    Lance Cormier, P0000000 .000
Brian McCann, C4111000 .250
Ryan Langerhans, LF4010021 .250
John Smoltz, P2000012 .000
    Wilson Betemit, 3B2010000 .500
Totals3749401310 
a-struck out for James in the 8th
Batting
2B - Marcus Giles (1, Penny), Matt Diaz (1, Seo), Andruw Jones (1, Seo)
HR - Adam LaRoche (2, Seo), Brian McCann (1, Penny)
RBI - Andruw Jones (5), Adam LaRoche 2 (5), Brian McCann (1)
2-OUT RBI - Andruw Jones (1), Adam LaRoche 2 (2)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Giles-Renteria-LaRoche, Giles-LaRoche
Atlanta Braves
John Smoltz (L,0-1) 5955231 9.00
Chuck James 2000220 0.00
Lance Cormier 1100100 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - John Smoltz 86-58, Chuck James 42-24, Lance Cormier 25-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Smoltz 6-4, Lance Cormier 1-2
Batters Faced - John Smoltz 24, Chuck James 8, Lance Cormier 5
Los Angeles Dodgers
Rafael Furcal, SS5000004 .300
Jose Cruz Jr., LF3110112 .556
J.D. Drew, RF4222001 .400
Jeff Kent, 2B4120011 .500
James Loney, 1B3110111 .333
Bill Mueller, 3B3012000 .429
Jason Repko, CF3031100 .625
Dioner Navarro, C2000213 .000
Brad Penny, P2000000 .000
    Jae Seo, P1000012 .000
   a- Ricky Ledee, PH1000001 .000
    Danys Baez, P0000000 .000
Totals3151055515 
a-hit into fielder's choice for Seo in the 8th
Batting
2B - Jose Cruz Jr. (2, Smoltz), Jason Repko (2, Cormier)
HR - J.D. Drew (1, Smoltz)
SF - Bill Mueller (1)
RBI - J.D. Drew 2 (4), Bill Mueller 2 (3), Jason Repko (2)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
E - Bill Mueller (1, Misplayed grounder)
Los Angeles Dodgers
Brad Penny (W,1-0) 5511081 1.80
Jae Seo 3333041 9.00
Danys Baez (S,1) 1100010 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Brad Penny 92-62, Jae Seo 49-31, Danys Baez 17-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brad Penny 5-3, Jae Seo 3-2
Batters Faced - Brad Penny 21, Jae Seo 12, Danys Baez 4
Game Information
Attendance - 36249
Game Time - 2:46
Temperature - 59
Umpires - Home - Tom Hallion, First Base - Ed Rapuano, Second Base - Tony Randazzo, Third Base - Joe West