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Beltre, Dreifort Help Dodgers Forget Troubles

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Adrian Beltre is experiencing problems one would expect a 20-year-old rookie to encounter.

The third baseman has often appeared confused at the plate during his brief tenure with the Dodgers. But Beltre is stirring excitement among club officials, who need something to feel good about.

Beltre hit his first major league home run Tuesday night in a 4-1 interleague victory over the Texas Rangers before 37,873 at The Ballpark in Arlington.

With two out in the sixth inning, Beltre hit a two-run homer against Ranger starter Rick Helling (11-4) to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.

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And that deficit proved too much for the Rangers to overcome the way Darren Dreifort (5-6) worked.

The right-hander pitched eight impressive innings, and closer Antonio Osuna pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his fifth save in five opportunities. But holding to form, the Dodgers also received bad news Tuesday night.

Interim General Manager Tom Lasorda announced after the game that leadoff hitter Eric Young will go on the 15-day disabled list because of his lingering right quadriceps strain.

Young left the game after aggravating the injury in the first inning.

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Fortunately for the Dodgers, Beltre’s blast helped ease the frustration.

“With all the injuries we’ve had, we’ve put him [Beltre] out there in the lineup every day,” Manager Glenn Hoffman said. “This kid has a lot of talent, and we’re giving him a chance to show what he can do.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, or how long this is going to last, but he’s here right now.”

After going two for five with an RBI double in his major league debut last Wednesday, Beltre had only one hit in his last 14 at-bats before Tuesday’s game.

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He struck out swinging in his first two at-bats, in the sixth, Beltre’s blast off Helling traveled an estimated 418 feet to center.

“That was like a dream, to get your first home run in the major leagues,” Beltre said. “I wasn’t hitting, so I was just trying to make contact.

“It feels good, because this is something everyone dreams about. I’m going to go call my family [in the Dominican Republic] and let everyone know what happened tonight.”

The Dodgers were also pleased by Dreifort’s performance. On the day Ramon Martinez underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in Los Angeles, Dreifort had another strong outing.

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He gave up three hits and one run in eight innings. Dreifort struck out seven without a walk while throwing only 87 pitches, 61 for strikes.

“I thought I was going back out for the ninth, but [Hoffman] said he wanted to get some work for Osuna,” Dreifort said. “So that was that.”


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