SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Even in defeat, Darren Dreifort couldn't resist
"It felt good out there," he said. "The whole night was a
(nice) moment. It's tough to enjoy a loss, but it's nice to be out
there in a regular game."
Dreifort (0-1) made his first start since tearing an elbow
ligament in San Diego on June 29, 2001. The 30-year-old
right-hander appeared strong throughout, effectively mixing hard
sliders and a fastball that consistently reached the mid-90s.
"Everything feels like it's back to normal," said Dreifort,
who underwent "Tommy John" surgery on July 9, 2001, to repair his
He allowed three runs on five hits before being lifted for a
pinch-hitter to start the seventh. He walked three and struck out
"I think he did a fantastic job," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy
said. "His rhythm and delivery were as smooth as I've ever seen."
Rookie Xavier Nady hit a solo homer off Dreifort, who allowed
the go-ahead run on a balk.
Clay Condrey (1-1) allowed one run and five hits in five innings
for the Padres. The rookie, who lost in relief in the season
opener, was lifted because of a mild right groin strain he
sustained when he scored a run in the fifth.
Brandon Villafuerte pitched a perfect ninth for his first save
in his first chance.
"It's a big lift for the team even though we lost," Los
Angeles catcher Paul Lo Duca said. "Nobody deserves it as much as
(Dreifort) does, having gone through what he went through."
Three weeks after the elbow surgery, Dreifort had to undergo
arthroscopic knee surgery for an injury sustained while
rehabilitating his elbow.
"Dreifort looked good," said Mark Kotsay, who had three hits
against Dreifort, including an RBI single in the fifth.
"Obviously, his velocity is back. We didn't do very much against
him until the fifth."
After Los Angeles took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on Alex Cora's
RBI single, Condrey helped himself with a leadoff infield single in
the fifth, his first major league hit.
After a walk to Ramon Vazquez, Kotsay singled in one run. One
batter later, Dreifort was called for a balk by first base umpire
Mike Winters, allowing Vazquez to score.
Nady, starting in the outfield because of a season-ending injury
to slugger Phil Nevin, hit his second homer of the season to lead
off the sixth against Dreifort and put San Diego ahead 3-1.
Fred McGriff hit his 479th career homer in the eighth to cut it
Dreifort dropped to 0-8 in 17 lifetime outings against San
Diego, the only team he has yet to beat. The eight losses are the
most for Dreifort against any team. ... Condrey had gone hitless in
his first eight big league at-bats. ... San Diego's Shane Victorino
made his first major league start in left field after making his
debut as a pinch-runner Wednesday night.