LOS ANGELES (AP) -- J.D. Drew is a happy guy these days, and with
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 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
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
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
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.
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.