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Brown in command, Dodgers blank D-Backs

4/3/2003

PHOENIX (AP) -- That No. 3 starter for Los Angeles looked like
Kevin Brown in his prime, and that bodes well for a Dodgers team
expecting big things this season.

Brown, backed by flawless, often spectacular, defense, shut down
the Arizona Diamondbacks on three hits in six-plus innings of a 5-0
victory Wednesday night.

Shawn Green was 4-for-4 with a home run, two doubles and three
RBIs as the Dodgers took two of three in the season-opening series
between NL West squads. Both Los Angeles wins were shutouts, the
first by Hideo Nomo in the opener Monday.

"I think it goes without saying that when you can send a Kevin
Brown out there on the third day of the season throwing the ball
like that, I think it makes a pretty loud statement about what kind
of starting pitching rotation you have,'' Dodgers manager Jim Tracy
said.

Brian Jordan homered for the second time in three games.

Elmer Dessens (0-1), in his Arizona debut, allowed four runs on
eight hits in five innings.

The 38-year-old Brown (1-0) has been plagued by injuries the
past two seasons, but had a strong spring and was in command of the
Diamondbacks from the start, striking out three of the first five
batters.

"It's been a long journey. I know it's a test and I'm there for
a reason,'' Brown said. "I'm just happy to be back on the field.''

Asked how long it's been since he felt this good, Brown said,
"as far as not hurting and stuff, you'd probably have to go back
10 years. Now, whether that translates into wins, we'll have to
wait and see.''

Brown allowed two hits -- David Dellucci's double in the third
and Steve Finley's single in the fifth -- through six scoreless
innings. He walked Craig Counsell to start the seventh, then gave
up a bloop single to Junior Spivey, and left after just 72 pitches.
He struck out four and walked one.

"He looked like the Kevin Brown of old tonight,'' Arizona
manager Bob Brenly said. "He just stifled our offense
completely.''

Left-hander Tom Martin came on to face Arizona lefties Luis
Gonzalez and Steve Finley. Gonzalez flied out to deep center, and
Spivey was thrown out by Dave Roberts trying to advance to second.
Finley flied out to end the inning.

Paul Shuey and Eric Gagne completed the shutout, with Gagne
striking out two and throwing only nine pitches -- all strikes -- in
the ninth.

Green took two swings that resulted in two runs in the first
three innings, the first a solo home run and the second an RBI
double to put Los Angeles up 2-0.

Green's two-out home run on the first pitch he saw from Dessens
made it 1-0 in the first. In the third, Cesar Izturis led off with
the first of his three singles, then stole second. Paul Lo Duca
drew a two-out walk, then Green hit the first pitch from Dessens
into right-center to drive in a run. Two runs would have scored but
the ball bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double.

Jordan's home run leading off the fourth made it 3-0.

Fred McGriff's check swing blooped the ball into left field for
a single that brought home Lo Duca to put Los Angeles up 4-0 in the
fifth. Lo Duca reached on a double when the ball dropped out of
Dellucci's glove on a diving attempt in left field.

Roberts tripled in the ninth and scored on Green's double off
Miguel Batista.

Two big defensive plays helped the Dodgers in the fifth. With
Finley on first and no outs, Roberts made a diving catch of Mark
Grace's fly ball in right-center.

"That could have really been a big inning had that play not
been made,'' Grace said, "and he made one of the better catches
I've seen. Unfortunately, it was off of my bat.''

Moments later, Finley was thrown out trying to steal second by
Lo Duca with a difficult tag applied by shortstop Izturis.

"This team has the capabilities of being as good defensively as
maybe many of the best Dodger defensive teams,'' Tracy said. "They
catch the ball.''

Game notes
Brown is fourth among active NL pitchers with 184 wins. ...
Los Angeles will play its home opener next Monday against Arizona
after a four-game stop in San Diego. ... Arizona 3B Craig Counsell,
in his first start of the season, was 0-for-2 with a walk. ... The
Dodgers had four homers in the series, the Diamondbacks none. ...
Izturis was 5-for-9 in the series.