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Dreifort earns first win since June 12, 2001

4/9/2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Darren Dreifort has a message for anyone wondering about his twice-repaired pitching elbow.

"You can quit asking, I'm fine,'' he said.

He showed it Wednesday, just as he has since reporting to spring training.

Dreifort pitched six strong innings to earn his first victory in almost 22 months as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-2.

Shawn Green homered and drove in three runs for the Dodgers, who won for the third time in four games to reach the .500 mark.

Dreifort (1-1) allowed two runs and six hits while walking four and striking out three in his first win since June 12, 2001.

The 30-year-old right-hander tore a ligament and a tendon in his
pitching elbow three starts later, and didn't return until last
Friday night in San Diego, when he gave up three runs in six
innings.

"I really don't remember two years ago, it's been a long
time,'' Dreifort said. "Every day's pretty much a milestone day
for me. The significance of it is we get a victory, not me.

"It wasn't a good outing, but it was a big win.''

Dreifort struggled in the first two innings, throwing 42 of his
100 pitches.

"He didn't start off in synch,'' Dodgers manager Jim Tracy
said. "He quickly rectified that.''

Dreifort is trying to become the first pitcher to make a successful comeback from two "Tommy John'' surgeries. He missed the entire 1995 season after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his pitching elbow.

He signed a $55 million, five-year contract before the 2001
season.

"He's looked great all spring, everybody's happy to see him have some success,'' Green said.

"It's great to see him get his first win, it's all downhill now,'' Dodgers outfielder Brian Jordan said.

For the two-time defending NL West champion Diamondbacks, it's been pretty much all downhill since the season began.

"We just haven't swung the bats,'' infielder Craig Counsell said. "When we start hitting, we'll start winning. It's as simple as that.''

The Diamondbacks have a .216 team batting average and have
scored 23 runs while going 2-7.

Regarding Dreifort, Counsell said: "He's always been a guy with a good, hard sinker, and I think he's still pretty much that kind of pitcher -- especially early in the game. He struggled with his command, but when you've got a 93 mph sinker, it's going to get some outs.''

Dreifort was relieved by Tom Martin after walking pinch-hitter
Quinton McCracken to start the seventh with the Dodgers leading
4-2.

Guillermo Mota relieved Martin with runners at the corners and
one out, and struck out Matt Williams and retired Luis Gonzalez on
a foul popup to end the inning.

Gonzalez, who homered earlier in the game, had been 4-for-5 with
two homers and five walks against Mota.

"Oh, yeah, I know he's been killing me,'' Mota said. "I wanted
to face him.''

Mota hit a two-out, run-scoring single off Stephen Randolph in
the bottom of the inning for the fourth RBI of his career and first
since June 9, 1999.

Eric Gagne worked the ninth for his second save in as many chances.

Green hit the first pitch he saw from Byung-Hyun Kim (0-2) into
the left-center field pavilion for a two-run homer in the first,
putting the Dodgers ahead for good.

It was the second homer for Green, who had just one hit in his
previous 13 at-bats.

Carlos Baerga's sacrifice fly in the top of the inning gave
Arizona a short-lived lead. Counsell tried to score from second on
Steve Finley's infield hit, but was thrown out at the plate to end
the inning.

The Dodgers scored two more runs in the third on an RBI double
by Jolbert Cabrera and Green's run-scoring single.

Gonzalez homered in the fifth -- his third in the last three games -- to make it 4-2.

Kim, being converted from closer to starter this year, allowed four runs and five hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out five.

Game notes
Diamondbacks 2B Junior Spivey, mired in a 1-for-17 slump,
got the day off. "I'm not getting the job done, that's obvious,''
said Spivey, who hit .301 last season. "I feel fine, I'm just not
having much success right now. I'll pull out of it, I'm not
worried.'' ... Dodgers SS Cesar Izturis, who bruised his left shin
while scoring the go-ahead run in the seventh inning Tuesday night,
didn't play. Tracy said the injury isn't serious. ... Given Tuesday
off, Arizona SS Tony Womack opened the game with a double -- just
his third hit in 24 at-bats. ... The Dodgers open a four-game
series in San Francisco on Thursday night. They don't get their
first day off this season until Monday. ... Off Thursday, the
Diamondbacks send Randy Johnson to the mound Friday night against
Milwaukee to begin a seven-game homestand.