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Hatcher’s Single in Ninth Lifts Dodgers Over Braves

<i> Associated Press </i>

Mickey Hatcher hit a pinch single with one out in the ninth inning Sunday to give the Dodgers a 5-4 exhibition victory over the Atlanta Braves.

Gerald Perry had tied the score in the eighth with a two-run homer off Alejandro Pena (2-0).

Tracy Woodson singled off Jose Alvarez (2-2) to lead off the ninth. Mike Davis, who had three hits, singled pinch-runner Mariano Duncan to second and Rick Dempsey sacrificed. Mike Scioscia was walked intentionally and Hatcher singled to right, snapping the Dodgers’ three-game losing streak.

Tim Belcher allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings, struck out six and walked two. Zane Smith gave up two earned runs and two unearned runs in seven innings, struck out five and walked one.

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Kirk Gibson, who had missed a week with the flu, went 0-for-3.

Ron Gant hit a solo homer for the Braves, his second this spring.

Hatcher has only nine hits in 36 at bats this spring, but two have been game-winning pinch hits.

“I’d like to play every day, like everybody else,” Hatcher said, “but I like this role, too. The key is accepting the role of a pinch hitter. If you don’t accept it, you won’t believe in yourself.

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“I’ve prepared for it the last couple years, and it’s helped me. I get excited about going into the game in that situation.

“If a guy should get injured, I’ll play in the field. That’s what I’m here for. I think I’ve shown the Dodgers I can go in there for a few days and get the job done.”

The Dodgers will split their squad today, playing the New York Mets at their complex at Vero Beach and the Braves at West Palm Beach.


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