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Bohanon Gives the Dodgers a Boost

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Brian Bohanon acknowledges his shortcomings on the mound and he accepts his place in the game.

But the Dodger starting pitcher said he is better than most believe, and he is determined to prove his worth.

Bohanon continued to gain supporters Tuesday night in a 7-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies before 24,828 at Veterans Stadium.

On a balmy night, the chubby left-hander had his second impressive start in as many outings, pitching a season-high seven innings in the opener of a key 10-game trip.

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“I expect to go out there and battle and succeed,” Bohanon said. “I think I have the stuff to go out there and be competitive and suck up innings for this team and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

The Dodgers staked Bohanon (4-6) to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and he controlled the Phillies before being relieved by right-hander Antonio Osuna, who pitched a scoreless eighth. Left-hander Scott Radinsky struggled in the ninth, giving up three hits and a run.

With one out and runners on first and second--and closer Jeff Shaw warming up in the bullpen--Bobby Estalella and Mark Lewis popped out to complete the victory that moved the Dodgers a season-high four games above .500 at 55-51.

The Dodgers moved within 4 1/2 games of the front-running Chicago Cubs among several teams competing for the National League wild-card berth.

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Bohanon was not solely responsible for the Dodgers’ success Tuesday, but he deservedly received much of the credit.

“Any time you get to this point in the season and you are battling for [the playoffs], you need all your pitchers to come through like this, not just your No. 1 or No. 2 guys,” said right fielder Gary Sheffield, who went two for three with two runs batted in. “Maybe he’s not the guy who gets a lot of the attention, but he is doing a good job and he came up big for us when we needed him.”

Once again, Dodger Manager Glenn Hoffman was impressed.

“Just a great, great job,” Hoffman said. “It was his fourth outing with us and I keep saying he is giving us a big lift. For him to go the longest in his fourth [start] was really big and that was a good way to start the road trip.”

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Bohanon gave up eight hits--including a solo home run by Scott Rolen in the first inning--and two runs, one earned. Bohanon struck out a season-high seven and walked one while throwing 111 pitches, 70 for strikes.

With two out in the first, Bohanon’s teammates gave him a 3-0 lead. Leadoff batter Wilton Guerrero scored from third on Sheffield’s run-scoring double and Eric Karros hit a two-run homer--his 13th--against Philadelphia starter Tyler Green (6-8). Raul Mondesi hit a two-run homer--his team-leading 23rd--in the fifth against Green, which gave the Dodgers a 6-2 lead.

Bohanon improved to 2-2 since interim General Manager Tom Lasorda acquired him July 10 from the New York Mets for middle reliever Greg McMichael. He won his first game with the team in his previous start, July 22 at Dodger Stadium, giving up one run in six innings in a 6-4 victory over the Houston Astros.

“He’s one of these guys who is not overpowering or overwhelming,” Karros said of Bohanon, “but he’s throwing well, he’s keeping us in games and he’s eating up innings, and that’s what we need to have.”

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In his four starts with the team, Bohanon has a 2.78 earned-run average and opponents are batting only .210 (17 for 81) against him.

Not bad for a guy who gave up three homers in losing to the San Diego Padres, 6-3, in his Dodger debut on July 12.

But Bohanon said he should not be judged on that game.

“It’s all about getting comfortable and I’m getting to that point right now,” he said. “I’m getting up around 100 pitches now, and I feel it’s getting easier and easier with my stamina. I didn’t get a lot of opportunities to start [in New York] this year. That wasn’t my role and just needed a chance to get out there.

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“I don’t think of myself as a No. 1 or a No. 2 starter. But I don’t think of myself as a No. 5 starter, either. I feel I’m a guy who can consistently go out there and pitch six or seven innings.”


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