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Willis gives up seven runs in two-plus innings

8/12/2003

MIAMI (AP) -- Rookie sensation Dontrelle Willis against the
weak-hitting Los Angeles Dodgers turned out to be a mismatch.

The Dodgers drubbed him.

Willis retired only six batters and gave up seven runs,
including a three-run homer by Adrian Beltre that helped Los
Angeles beat the Florida Marlins 9-3 on Monday night.

In a rare show of offense by the Dodgers, their first eight
hitters reached base in the third inning as they scored six times.
Nine runs matches their best total since April 20.

Willis (11-3) lasted only two-plus innings, matching his
shortest outing. The left-hander's ERA rose from 2.56 to 3.10, and
in five starts since the All-Star break it's 6.48.

"This is not a marquee night for fantasy baseball," he said.
"But it takes a lot to get me down."

Willis said he struggled with the location of his fastball. He
repeatedly fell behind in the count and walked three hitters.

"I told him it wasn't his night," Marlins manager Jack McKeon
said. "But I think he knew that."

Odalis Perez (8-9) allowed two runs and seven hits in eight
innings. An .050 hitter, he also walked against Willis and scored
the run that put Los Angeles ahead to stay.

"The guy wasn't throwing strikes," Perez said. "And when he
threw strikes, he got hit."

Beltre, who began the night hitting .225, tripled and scored the
Dodgers' first run, then hit his 12th homer batting cleanup for the
first time this season. He singled in the ninth to finish a double
shy of the cycle.

Rickey Henderson walked three times, scored once and singled
home a run. Cesar Izturis had three of the Dodgers' 16 hits and
scored twice.

The Marlins, who have lost two in a row for only the second time
since June 17-18, fell one-half game behind idle NL wild-card
leader Philadelphia.

The Dodgers are three games back. They rank last in the league
in runs and batting average, but they've won seven of their past
eight games.

"It's nice to be in the position we're in knowing we haven't
played up to our potential," outfielder Shawn Green said.

Los Angeles improved to 4-0 against the Marlins this season and
has outscored them 17-6.

The start was delayed 31 minutes by threatening weather, and the
game was reminiscent of one Willis pitched against the Chicago Cubs
on July 20. That day he waited out a rain delay of 67 minutes in
the second inning, then failed to retire a batter when play resumed
and gave up six runs in the third.

This time, Willis led 2-1 when Izturis began the third by
beating out a grounder to short for an infield single. Perez and
Henderson walked to load the bases, and Paul Lo Duca singled home
two runs to put the Dodgers ahead. Green hit an RBI single, and
Beltre homered for a 7-2 lead.

When Jolbert Cabrera singled to become the seventh consecutive
Dodger to reach base, Willis headed for the showers, and the crowd
of 20,288 gave the popular rookie a big ovation. He allowed six
hits and three walks.

"Once in a while, they're going to catch up with you," McKeon
said. "He'll bounce back."

Willis said the delay at the start didn't affect him.

"No rain delay, no blizzard, no hurricane -- there's no
excuse," he said. "Perez went through the same delay and went
eight innings."

Perez struck out four and walked none. He retired 11 consecutive
batters after Los Angeles took the lead.

"I was on top of my game," he said. "It's easier to work when
you've got some runs."

Game notes
Dodgers 1B Lo Duca tripped over first base and fell chasing
a foul pop, rose and still made the catch as he cracked a sheepish
grin. ... Perez singled in the fourth and is 2-for-40 this year.
... The Marlins fell to 19-10 against left-handed starters. They
had won five in a row. ... The Dodgers improved to 50-1 when
leading after seven innings. ... The Dodgers' Jason Romano, batting
.083, was robbed of hit when LF Miguel Cabrera made a diving catch
in the second.