Indoor fun on a smoking-hot day

it’s 107 degrees outside, but Chase Field, with the roof closed for the first time in the series, is a comfortably airconditioned 79 degrees. Meanwhile, the Dodgers bats are hot — especially Russell Martin’s. He has a two-run homer off Randy Johnson and a double that set up Jeff Kent’s two-run single. The Unit was done after three, having thrown 70 pitches. Amazing how much more the Dodgers are working counts now that Eddie Murray is gone. It LOOKS like the Dodgers are going to go 6-4 on the trip and come home tied for first with the Pods, making this weekend’s showdown with them at Chavez Ravine that much bigger. But then, the Dodgers have blown a six-run lead in this park before. I remember it like it was yesterday, even though it was April 2006. Odalis Perez gave up a solo homer to Shawn Green, whom he absolutely hates, to make it 6-1. I turned to the guy next to me and said, “He’s going to blow the rest of this lead now.” By the end of the inning, he had. It was 6-6, and the Snakes went on to win. I’m guessing the same fate won’t befall Randy Wolf this afternoon. … Did anybody catch that Paris Hilton interview on Larry King? I saw about 10 minutes this morning, and that was about all I could stand. Talk about somebody who has NO clue how the rest of us live. But then, I have no clue what it’s like in jail, either. … Dodgers 6, D-backs 0, middle 4

Today’s lineup: As expected, Nomar sits, Abreu plays third

SS Furcal
CF Pierre
C Martin
2B Kent
LF Gonzo
RF Kemp
1B Loney
3B Abreu
LH Wolf

Picked up Frank DeFord’s new novel, The Entitled, at Barnes and Noble today. Read the first chapter in about 10 minutes. I’ll give a full report on this blog when I finish it, but so far, it’s a page-turner. The main character (so far, anyway) is a manager of the Cleveland Indians who was a bad minor-league player, worked his way up gradually and finally got a shot to manage in the bigs (sound familiar?) who now senses he is about to be fired. That’s just the lead-in. I won’t spoil anything after that, but suffice to say, that ISN’T the primary storyline.

Diamondbacks 2, Dodgers 0

Nomar is going to sit tomorrow. Grady told us after the game, right after he told Nomar. This guy is really struggling. Those last two at-bats, he struck out on a total of six pitches. This was a game that could loom large later in the season, especially if these two teams end up battling it out to the end, probably along with the Pods. The Dodgers went 0 for 12 w/RISP, left 13 men on base and lost by two runs. If you were ever going to beat Brandon Webb, this was the night. He gave up seven hits and walked five batters in seven innings, and the Dodgers couldn’t score off him. And don’t forget, they also stranded 15 runners on Saturday night at the Trop and lost by one run to the D-Rays. Wow. Two losses that could have been reversed with a well-timed hit here or there. … Dodgers fall to 44-34 and back into third place, a half-game behind the Pods and D-backs.

Plodding along

That quick game we anticipated with these two sinkerballers going simply hasn’t materialized. They already have five walks (one intentional) between them. Derek Lowe threw a staggering number of pitches in the first inning, when he walked two of the first three batters and should have gotten out of the inning, but a throwing error by James Loney negated a sure out and allowed the Snakes to score an unearned run. Since then, though, D-Lowe has settled in and become more efficient. Brandon Webb doesn’t look the part of a Cy Young winner, either, but the Dodgers stranded five runners, three of them in scoring position, in the first three innings. Nomar just hit into a fielder’s choice — on the first pitch, of course — to run his hitless streak to 13 ABs. … Snakes 1, Dodgers 0, top 4

Adkins signs

Mr. Weisman asked on another thread whether it was true that the Dodgers had signed James Adkins, a lefty out of the University of Tennessee who was their second-round pick. It is true, indeed. Inked him for $787k. Club has now signed all but one of its first 17 picks, the exception being fifth-rounder Kyle Blair, who probably isn’t going to sign anyway because he has a scholarship to the University of San Diego and wants more than fifth-round money

Tonight’s lineup: Nomar dropping faster than my portfolio

Actually, it rebounded slightly today after about a week of falling like a lead parachute. Nomar, however, did not rebound. After going 0 for 5 in the six hole, let’s see if he does any better hitting seventh. More importantly, let’s see if anybody hits a ball his way tonight in his second attempt at playing 3B. Everything else is pretty much the same.

SS Furcal
CF Pierre
C Martin
2B Kent
LF Gonzo
1B Loney
3B Nomar
RF Ethier
RH Lowe

Dodgers 6, D-backs 5

Last year, the Dodgers lost 13 of 18 to the Pods and thus had to settle for the wild card when they finished tied with them atop the division. This is not to suggest the Dodgers and D-backs are going to finish tied this year, but if they do, the Dodgers have a good head start to getting the division crown. They have won six of seven from the Snakes, including all four in PHX. The two clubs have 11 games left wth each other, so the Dodgers haven’t clinched the season series yet at all, but it’s definitely a good start. … Dodgers go to 44-33 and move a half-game ahead of the D-backs and Pods. Now back to the Westin, which ISN’T hosting a sorority convention tonight.

The resolution passes

Just got word that the Glendale City Council unanimously passed the resolution authorizing the PHX suburb’s share of the funding for the new spring training complex. The PHX city council is expected to pass it on July 2 and the state of Arizona will meet later in July, when it is expected to pass it also. Frank McCourt and Howard Sunkin are on their way over here from the meeting now, apparently, to tell us all about it. … Both starting pitchers were done after four innings. Staked to a two-run lead, Bills got two quick outs in the bottom of the fourth, walked a batter and gave up a towering home run to Mark Reynolds. He threw 78 pitches, only 44 of them strikes. Dodgers 5, D-backs 5, bottom 5

Loney creeps up on .500

He just keeps on hitting. He just bounced a ball over the head of 1B Conor Jackson and up the RF line for a game-tying, RBI double. After an intentional pass to Ethier, Billingsley — yes, Billingsley — followed with a drive just beyond the reach of a diving Chris Young, scoring Loney and Ethier. It was Bills’ first career extra-base hit. Loney is now 15 for 31, giving him a .484 average since he was called up 16 days ago. And the scary thing is, he is going to be playing every day now, it appears. … Dodgers 5, D-backs 3, top 4

The two faces of Chad Billingsley

For the first two innings, he was remarkably similar to the Billingsley of last year: too many pitches, too many deep counts and too many balls absolutely smoked by D-backs hitters because the worked the count to the point that they had an advantage. In the third, though, he settled in and retired the side in order on very few pitches. Honeycutt or Russ Martin or somebody must have said something to him in the dugout. Loney already has a two-run homer. Nomar hasn’t had a ball hit to him at 3B yet, but he did scoop a one-hop throw from Martin on a force play … By the way, just to clarify something. Despite what you might have read on a competing blog, all of the beat writers who travel with the club on a regular basis learned of Nomar’s move to 3B at the same time, that being when Grady announced it to us in the dugout yesterday during his pregame media session. Until that point, none of us knew about it. So if one of us chooses to claim on his blog that the story “was first reported by” his blog, that simply isn’t true — except in the most technical sense. He got to his computer before I got to mine and clicked on “post” a minute or two before I did. Making a claim like that makes it look like the rest of us weren’t doing our jobs, and that isn’t the case. This is a tough beat, and we all work HARD every single day.