VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Joe Torre might have looked out of place wearing Los Angeles Dodgers blue. He was right at home as a winner.
Even with several blown opportunities and some shoddy baserunning, the Dodgers made Torre's debut as their manager a success Thursday by scoring three runs in the ninth to beat the Atlanta Braves 5-4."For coming out of the box, I thought it was a good game for us," Torre said. "It was fun. This was the first time in 13 years I've had a different uniform on."The 67-year-old Torre, wearing a Dodgers hat and windbreaker over his uniform as he spoke with reporters, said he got over leaving the New York Yankees during the offseason."I'm involved here, I'm buried here as far as I'm concerned, doing things," he said. "It's baseball. The Yankee uniform was special. To be there for 12 years was certainly a great chapter in my life."This is a great time for me because I get to know people."Torre was matched up with 66-year-old Bobby Cox in his Dodgers debut. Cox ranks fourth and Torre eighth in career victories, assuring both of Hall of Fame entries following retirement."Good to see you, Mr. Torre. Welcome back," Cox said two hours before the game as the pair exchanged a warm greeting and chatted briefly.Braves pitcher Matt DeSalvo walked the bases loaded with one out in the ninth. Blaine Boyer relieved, and hit Jason Repko with a pitch to force in a run before non-roster first baseman John Lindsey hit the next pitch inside third for a two-run single, ending the game.The Dodgers outhit the Braves 13-5, but stranded 12 baserunners to Atlanta's three.Their baserunning problems began in the second, when pinch hitter Mark Sweeney's bases-loaded single off Tim Hudson drove in Andruw Jones for a 1-0 lead. Third base coach Larry Bowa held James Loney, but Matt Kemp never stopped running before diving into third.Juan Pierre then grounded out to end the inning."I messed up," Kemp said. "I'd rather get it out of the way now, I guess. I should keep my head up. I have a tendency to run with my head down."Russell Martin hit a one-out single in the third, and then took off for second, sliding into the base as Jeff Kent's fly to right was being caught. Martin was easily doubled up.Repko was thrown out by right fielder Jeff Francoeur trying to go from first to third on a single by Loney with one out in the sixth, and with runners at first and third and nobody out in the seventh, Chin-Lung Hu was thrown out trying to steal second."Matt ran with his head down. That will get better," Torre said. "The same with Russell. Everything else was fine with me. I think we have to manufacture runs and the best way to do that is run the bases aggressively."We were getting the hits. We weren't getting the runs."Prospect Tyler Flowers hit a two-run homer in the top of the ninth to give the Braves a 4-2 lead. Scott Thorman and Brian McCann drove in Atlanta's other runs.Hudson allowed four hits and one run in his two innings of work."That was good work for me today," he said. "I was in some stressful situations. I'm going to have those type of situations during the year. It's better to have them in the spring when it doesn't count."
Work has started to transform the Los Angeles Coliseum into a baseball stadium for the Dodgers' exhibition game against the world champion Boston Red Sox on March 29. The game is expected to draw the largest baseball crowd in U.S. history. There have been 90,505 tickets sold, the most for any baseball game since 1959, and around 25,000 standing room tickets go on sale Saturday. ... Maury Wills, the 1962 NL MVP and a seven-time All-Star, was honored before the game. Wills first reported to Vero Beach as a minor leaguer in 1951, and the bunting area at Dodgertown was named "Maury's Pit" in 2003. The Dodgers are moving their spring training complex to Glendale, Ariz., next year after 61 years at Vero Beach. ... The Dodgers agreed to terms of one-year contracts with Billingsley, Martin, Loney, OF Andre Ethier, LHP Hong-Chih Kuo and 3B Andy LaRoche.