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Cubs 5, Dodgers 3

MESA, Ariz. -- Micah Hoffpauir hopes to find a spot on the Chicago Cubs' roster this spring and made sure he was noticed Wednesday, hitting a grand slam to power a 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the exhibition opener.

"For me to make this team, like I said from the get-go, I have to produce," said Hoffpauir, who batted .342 in 33 games with the Cubs last season. "And the last thing in that sense is to worry about it. All I can is get myself prepared. ... So far this spring, I've had a good time and been relaxed."

The game on a brilliant 80-degree day at HoHoKam Park drew 7,916 fans for two of the marquee teams in the NL.

Newcomers to the Arizona spring, the Dodgers trained in Vero Beach, Fla., for six decades before moving to a new state-of-the-art complex they share with the White Sox west of Phoenix. L.A. did play some exhibition games in Arizona last spring after a trip to China, but are now full-fledged members of the Cactus League.

Manager Joe Torre said two of the benefits of being in Arizona could be less humidity and shorter trips for exhibition games.

"We're hopeful to spend more time on the field than the bus," he said.

The last time the Dodgers faced the Cubs, in Game 3 of the NLDS on Oct. 4, Los Angeles' 3-1 victory at Dodger Stadium completed a three-game sweep.

A handful of regulars on both sides played Wednesday, but most noticeably absent was Manny Ramirez, who is still unsigned.

"No distraction whatsoever," Torre said before the game.

"From my experience with him, I know he's not sitting home doing nothing. He's working and I don't think that it is an issue. Hopefully we get him and whenever that time is, I'm pretty comfortable he'll have enough time to be ready."

Torre said he last spoke with Ramirez about three weeks ago.

"He seemed to be in a good place in his mind. ... And certainly we want him. Just from my experience, I think he wants to be here. I think it's just a matter of working things out and hopefully we can. There is no guarantee obviously."

Answering a question, Torre said Ramirez would probably be able to hit without the benefit of spring training.

"I think Manny could. Would I like to see or would he like to not have any game experience to start the season? It's doubtful," Torre said.

Hoffpauir, hoping to earn a backup role at first and in the outfield, hit his grand slam in the fifth off Ramon Troncoso (0-1) -- right after a Dodgers' error -- to give the Cubs a 5-3 lead. Hoffpauir was serving as the DH after both NL teams agreed to use it to get players more at-bats.

Tony Abreu hit a two-run, bases-loaded single off Jeff Samardzija in the bottom of the second to put the Dodgers up 2-1. The Cubs loaded the bases with no outs in the first off Claudio Vargas, but managed just one run on Hoffpauir's double-play grounder. Blake DeWitt had an RBI single in the fourth for the Dodgers.

Samardzija, the former star football receiver at Notre Dame who pitched 26 games in relief for the Cubs last season after his callup in late July, is a candidate for the fifth starter's role. Or he could end back in the bullpen or maybe go back to Triple-A and work on being a starter.

Saying that patience was not one of his best attributes, Samardzija said he's OK with whatever route the Cubs take with him. He gave up three hits and two runs in his two innings as a starter.

"I just want to come out and put myself in a great situation to help this team, whether it's out of the pen or starting or whatever it might be," he said. "I'll leave that decision up to them. ... Obviously I want to be helping this team win games from day one."

Game notes
Even though his name was on the final roster released Tuesday, Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano reiterated Wednesday he won't pitch for Venezuela in the WBC. "No, I'm staying here," Zambrano said.