Willis allows season-high four runs in defeat

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The D-Train got derailed before darkness set in Tuesday night.

Jeff Kent and Olmedo Saenz each drove in two runs in a four-run first inning, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat previously unbeaten Dontrelle Willis and the Florida Marlins 14-5 for just their second win in seven games.

Willis had won his first seven starts of the season, allowing just six earned runs in 50 innings for a 1.08 ERA. But the Dodgers scored four runs before the 23-year-old left-hander recorded his second out.

"We got to Dontrelle early -- that's all we got off him," Kent said. "We were able to keep them down. That's going to be the key for us all year long, how well we pitch."

Willis, who worked five shutout innings after the first, was trying to join Jon Garland of the White Sox as the first pitchers to win their first eight starts in a season since Pedro Martinez did so for Montreal in 1997. Garland accomplished the feat earlier Tuesday night.

"There's no excuses to explain the first inning. I don't play that," Willis said. "They came out and hit the ball well. That's the bottom line. They hit good pitches and they hit bad pitches. And with a lineup like that, you have to be on top of your game. I just wasn't early, but I was determined to keep us in that ballgame.

"I told the team, 'I'm not giving up anything else.' That's not a knock on anybody on their team, but I just believe in myself and I had confidence that we were going to stay in the game," he said.

Willis was true to his word, and the Marlins did stay in the game until the Dodgers blew it open with a four-run seventh off Nate Bump and Travis Smith and a six-run eighth against Jim Crowell, who was designated for assignment after the game.

Saenz also hit a three-run homer in the eighth to give him a career-high five RBI, and Kent drove in four runs. Cesar Izturis
tied a career high with five of the Dodgers' 19 hits.

"We did a lot of hitting tonight with men on base," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "Once we got them out there, we got them in."

The Dodgers went 3-for-21 with runners in scoring position in their previous two games -- both losses.

Willis (7-1) entered with an 0-2 career record and a 15.43 ERA against the Dodgers, and was true to that form at the outset. Izturis greeted Willis with a single and Jason Repko followed with a ground-rule double. After J.D. Drew took a called third strike, Kent snapped out of a 1-for-16 slide by lining a single to right.

Milton Bradley tried to bunt for a hit, and reached base when first baseman Carlos Delgado dropped Willis' throw. Saenz then doubled to drive in Bradley and Kent, making it 4-0.

"It's a good feeling to bust out," Bradley said. "Guys start getting hits, it's a contagious thing."

Willis allowed a season-high seven hits and the four runs, three earned, in six innings. He walked two, struck out six and threw 102 pitches.

"Now you guys can let the guy be himself and not worry about whether he's 15-0," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said, referring to Willis. "He would have liked to stay in there, and I would have liked to see him stay in there, too. But he would have had 190
pitches if he did.

"It just wasn't his night. You could tell when he started off, although you've got to give him credit. He battled like hell to keep the score 4-3," he said.

Derek Lowe (3-4) allowed four hits and three runs in 6 2/3 innings to earn the win. Lowe, who walked two and struck out five, was relieved by Kelly Wunsch with two outs and the tying run at second in the seventh. Wunsch struck out Juan Pierre to end the inning.

The Marlins, who lost for the fourth time in five games, didn't have a hit until Delgado followed Paul Lo Duca's leadoff walk in the fourth with his fifth homer to cut the Dodgers' lead to 4-2. Florida moved within one run in the fifth on Pierre's RBI grounder.

The Marlins cut the Dodgers' lead to 8-5 off Yhency Brazoban in the eighth on RBI doubles by Miguel Cabrera and Mike Lowell before Los Angeles got six in its half to make it a rout.

Pitching in a non-save situation, Eric Gagne worked the ninth in just his second appearance of the season. Gagne, who had 152 saves from 2002-04, was sidelined until last Saturday with a sprained ligament in his pitching elbow.

Game notes
Izturis has 57 hits in 39 games and a major league-leading 20 multihit games this season. ... The slumping Lowell was back in the lineup after sitting out two games. He went 1-for-4, leaving him with two hits in his last 27 at-bats. ... The Dodgers will activate third baseman Antonio Perez before Wednesday's game against the Marlins, a team spokesman said. Perez, who completed a rehab assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas, has been sidelined since April 9 because of a strained left hamstring. ... Florida shortstop Alex Gonzalez, playing in his 800th major league game, had two hits. ... Plate umpire Sam Holbrook called 10 batters out on third strikes, including Drew three times. Drew struck out a fourth time swinging.