Jackson beats Big Unit in major league debut


PHOENIX (AP) -- Edwin Jackson got the perfect birthday present.

Two years out of high school and two days out of Double-A,
Jackson took Hideo Nomo's spot in Los Angeles' rotation and pitched
six innings to win in his major league debut as the Dodgers beat
the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-1 Tuesday night.

The performance was even more special because it came on
Jackson's 20th birthday -- and against Randy Johnson.

"That's a bonus," Jackson said. "I wasn't expected to win,
you know. I went out and I pitched hard and I gave it all I have,
and I won, so that's definitely a bonus. This is one of the best
birthdays that I'll probably ever have."

Nomo has a sore right shoulder, but manager Jim Tracy said he'd
throw in the bullpen Thursday to see if it loosens. If not, the
Dodgers could use Jackson again in a few days.

"It's pretty special on your 20th birthday, against Randy
Johnson, to do what he did," catcher Paul Lo Duca said. "He's
aggressive in the zone, threw strikes, obviously has a very live
arm, but he was throwing strikes, and that was the key."

Lo Duca and Jolbert Cabrera hit run-scoring singles for the
Dodgers, who won for the 10th time in 12 games, going 5-0 on their
current road trip. Cabrera also doubled in the eighth off Randy
Johnson and scored on Alex Cora's single to center.

Paul Shuey pitched two perfect innings in relief, and Eric Gagne
worked the ninth for his 50th save, extending his major league
record to 58 straight and becoming the first in major league
history to record 50 saves in two seasons. He had 52 saves last

"It's always fun to win, especially today," Gagne said. "It
was his birthday and everything. It was awesome."

Los Angeles remained two games behind Florida and Philadelphia
in the NL wild-card chase, dropping the Diamondbacks seven games
back with 17 to go.

Jackson (1-0), whose contract was purchased Sunday from
Jacksonville, became the third-youngest Dodger ever to start. Only
Joe Moeller (1962) and Dick Calmus (1963) were younger when they
got their first start in the majors.

He gave up four hits and struck out four without walking anyone,
allowing a sacrifice fly by Robby Hammock after giving up singles
to Raul Mondesi and Shea Hillenbrand in the second.

Johnson (4-8), who turns 40 on Wednesday, gave up four runs on
eight hits, three walks and a hit batter in eight innings. It was
his third straight start without a win, and he's 1-4 in his last

"I was pretty encouraged going deep in the game," Johnson
said. "Outside of just the one inning when they got some key base
hits, it was a ballgame."

The Dodgers took advantage of Arizona's fielding and mental
mistakes to score three runs in the third.

Leadoff hitter Cesar Izturis' run was unearned -- he reached
second when Johnson fielded his bunt and threw low to Lyle Overbay,
who was charged with an error when the ball glanced off his glove
and into foul territory behind first.

Lo Duca and Shawn Green followed with singles up the middle
before Adrian Beltre loaded the bases with a chopper over the
mound. Johnson leaped and stretched his 6-foot-10 frame to keep the
ball in the infield, but then looked at second and third as Beltre
raced to first with a hit.

After the first of Johnson's three strikeouts in the inning,
Cabrera hit a short RBI single that kept the bases loaded and
Johnson hit Mike Kinkade with a pitch to make it 3-1.

"He's one of the best pitchers," Kinkade said. "We were lucky
-- we had a good inning and we got some singles and put them
together, and our pitching came through big tonight."

Junior Spivey, who had Arizona's last two hits off Jackson,
tripled with one out in the sixth, but was stranded when Luis
Gonzalez popped up and Mondesi struck out.

"All of our guys, we're trying our best," Spivey said. "He
made quality pitches when he had to."

Game notes
Jackson is the fifth pitcher to debut as a starter on his
birthday. The others were: Pittsburgh's Fred Woodcock (1892), St.
Louis' Tom Hughes (1959), Minnesota's Jerry Arrigo (1961) and
Houston's Larry Dierker (1964). ... Jackson is one of three high
school players from the 2001 draft to reach the majors, joining
Detroit's Jeremy Bonderman and Tampa Bay's Chad Gaudin. ... Arizona
RHP Curt Schilling had his second MRI within three weeks Tuesday to
check out a groin strain. Schilling is scheduled to pitch Thursday
against the Dodgers.