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Dessens' arm, bat propel D-Backs to victory

7/26/2003

PHOENIX (AP) -- All the attention Elmer Dessens pays to batting
practice paid off.

The Arizona right-hander, praised by manager Bob Brenly for his
devotion in the batting cage, drove in the only run he needed with
his first triple and pitched seven shutout innings to lead the
Diamondbacks to a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.

"Every day we have batting practice," said Dessens, 7-for-32
(.219) at the plate this year. "I try to do everything right, like
in a game situation."

It was Arizona's second straight narrow decision over the
Dodgers, coming hours after a 2-1 victory in 15 innings Friday
night. The bullpen pitched seven perfect innings in that game, and
three relievers got through the last three innings in this one.

Eddie Oropesa and Jose Valverde worked out of a jam in the
eighth and Matt Mantei pitched the ninth for his 11th save,
finishing the Diamondbacks' sixth shutout of the season -- a
six-hitter.

"When things (offensive scuffling) like that are going on, your
pitchers have to step up and vice versa," outfielder Luis Gonzalez
said. "When they're struggling, the offense has to pick it up. So
these guys have come up big for us the last two nights."

Dessens (6-7), the only member of the Diamondbacks opening day
rotation to make every start this year, allowed four hits and one
intentional walk while striking out six.

Dessens retired 16 consecutive batters between singles by Cesar
Izturis in the first inning and Dave Roberts in the sixth. Roberts
reached second on a balk, but Dessens struck out Izturis, the next
batter, for the third out.

In the seventh, he pitched out of a bases-loaded jam after
giving up singles to Shawn Green and Jeromy Burnitz. Green reached
third and Burnitz second on Burnitz's broken-bat blooper to center,
and Dessens walked Adrian Beltre before striking out David Ross.

Los Angeles threatened in the eighth against Oropesa, who walked
pinch-hitter Rickey Henderson on four pitches and gave up a single
to Izturis in the first three batters.

But Green struck out looking for the second out. Valverde came
on to pitch to Paul Lo Duca and walked him, but got Burnitz to pop
out.

Third baseman Craig Counsell ended the threat with the play of
the game, catching Burnitz's popup just as he ran into the railing
of the grandstand in short right field.

"You know the situation, and obviously it's a big point in the
game," Counsell said. "But you're just trying to catch it, and
was I right at the edge of where I could."

The Dodgers' Andy Ashby (2-8) had to deal with baserunners in
five of the first six innings. Double plays helped him escape
damage in the second and fourth, but the Diamondbacks scored in the
fifth thanks to their battery.

Rod Barajas, starting at catcher after playing the last six
innings late Friday, singled with two outs.

Roberts, activated before the game after 23 days on the disabled
list to start in center field, was playing Dessens to hit the ball
to right. Instead, the right-hander drove it into the left-center
gap and Roberts failed in his attempt to make a sliding stop.

"When an outfielder's playing cheap, he can hit a ball over
their heads like he did today," Brenly said. "I don't know what
was the bigger surprise -- Elmer hitting a triple or Rod scoring
from first on the triple, but it worked out pretty well."

Ashby called the game frustrating.

"We'll have to come out tomorrow and see what we have to do
change it around," Ashby said. "We're going to score runs. It's
just that we came up short today."

The Dodgers erased an Arizona threat in the second inning after
Shea Hillenbrand and Steve Finley singled with none out.

Alex Cintron hit into a 1-6-4-3 double play which Izturis
started at shortstop by grabbing a grounder that grazed Ashby's
left leg and tossing to Alex Cora at second. With Hillenbrand on
third, Ashby struck out David Dellucci for the third out.

"That performance resembled characteristics of what made him a
serious Cy Young Award candidate (in 1998)," Dodgers manager Jim
Tracy said about Ashby. "One ground ball after another, some of
the finest defensive plays in the middle of the infield that you
would ever want to take a look at."

Game notes
The teams have combined to score 13 runs in their last five
meetings. ... Cintron's 11-game hitting streak was snapped, but
Hillenbrand extended his to 11 games and Gonzalez singled in the
sixth to run his to 10 games. ... The walk was Henderson's record
2,181st. ... The last triple by an Arizona pitcher was Brian
Anderson's on May 5, 2002, against Montreal.