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Dodgers start mostly rookies in last game

9/29/2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Oliver Perez wasn't particular about who was
in the Los Angeles Dodgers' lineup on the final day of the season.
He was just glad to end a nine-start victory drought.

Perez scattered six hits against a batting order that featured
six rookies as the San Diego Padres completed their fourth straight
losing campaign with a 2-0 victory on Sunday.

Manager Jim Tracy didn't start any of his regulars other than
shortstop Cesar Izturis following the Dodgers' elimination Saturday
from the NL wild-card race.

It was the sixth straight season that the Dodgers (92-70) failed
to make the playoffs -- and the 12th time in club history that they
won 92 or more games and did not qualify.

Perez (4-5) allowed six hits in 7 1-3 innings, struck out seven
and did not walk a batter for the first time in his 15 starts. The
rookie left-hander had been 0-4 since winning at Colorado on July
7.

"It was great to see the kid throw like that,'' manager Bruce
Bochy said. "He just looked very determined. I thought it was big
for him to finish up on a good note -- and for this ballclub. We
kept our focus and played very well.''

The injury-plagued Padres, who got off to a tragic start in
spring training with the death of outfielder Mike Darr in a one-car
accident, finished 66-96 -- their worst record in a non-strike
season since going 61-101 in 1993. They used 59 players, 16 of whom
made their major league debuts -- including 12 pitchers.

San Diego was outscored by 152 runs, the first time the Padres
surrendered at least 100 more runs than they've scored since 1977,
when their opponents had 142 more runs. San Diego had trouble this
season playing long ball -- and little ball, hitting the fewest home
runs in the NL 136 and recording the fewest sacrifice bunts 45.

"We knew things were going to be difficult,'' said closer
Trevor Hoffman, who sat out the four-game series with inflammation
in his right shoulder. "But the silver lining is that we were able
to see a lot of good young arms, and lot of young players come up.
Hopefully, the experience they're getting now will be helpful for
us down the road.''

Making their first big league starts for Los Angeles were center
fielder Wilkin Ruan, second baseman Joe Thurston, right fielder
Luke Allen, left fielder Chin-Feng Chen and pitcher Victor Alvarez
(0-1).

Alvarez allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings,
striking out five and walking one.

Chen, who on Sept. 14 became the first Taiwanese player ever to
appear in a major league game, batted cleanup and was 0-for-4 with
three strikeouts.

Thurston, who turned 23 on Sunday, singled all four times up
against Perez before grounding out in the ninth. He was promoted
from Triple-A Las Vegas on Sept. 1 after hitting .334 with 196
hits, which led all minor leaguers.

"It actually felt like an opening day game, because a lot of
people don't know all the younger guys yet, and it was the first
time I started,'' Thurston said. "You just want to go out there
and do well, but nobody expects to go 4-for-5.

"It was a dream come true. Nobody could ever say that their
birthday present would be this much fun. It's the best birthday
present I've ever had.''

The only Dodgers' regulars other than Izturis who saw action
were Paul Lo Duca and Shawn Green, both of whom pinch-hit and
received loud ovations from the fan appreciation day crowd of
49,168 during their unscheduled curtain calls.

"It was a tingling feeling to have the fans in your corner like
that,'' Lo Duca said. "The fans of L.A. have been unbelievable to
me, and that's something I'll never forget.''

About a half-hour after the game, the Dodgers catcher went back
on the field and told fans on the public address system, "I
guarantee next year, we're going to have playoff tickets for
everybody.''

Los Angeles, shut out for the 13th time this year, loaded the
bases in the eighth. Brandon Villafuerte got four outs for his
first major league save.

The Padres scored their runs on an infield RBI single by Wilbert
Nieves in the second inning, and a double-play grounder by Bubba
Trammell in the seventh that scored pinch-runner Kory DeHaan.

Game notes
Dodgers LF Brian Jordan, eligible for free agency after
playing most of the season on a gimpy left knee, is to have surgery
Tuesday and expects to be ready for the start of spring training.
... No Dodgers regular finished with a batting average of .300 or
better for the first time since 1991, when leadoff hitter Brett
Butler batted .296. ... Tracy said his entire coaching staff has
been retained for next year. ... The Dodgers' home attendance was
3,136,255. It was the 13th time that they reached 3 million and did
not make the playoffs. ... The Padres retained coaches Alan
Trammell, Rob Picciolo, Greg Booker and Darrel Akerfelds for next
season. Third base coach Tim Flannery and hitting coach Duane Espy
will not return. ... Dodgers RHP Paul Quantrill appeared in a
career-high 86 games, the most among major league pitchers. He
became the first Dodgers pitcher to lead the NL in appearances
since Mike Marshall's record 106 in 1974.