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Hiatt Checks In as Ashby Wins

TIMES STAFF WRITER

When Phil Hiatt reported to Las Vegas’ Cashman Field at 11:45 a.m. Thursday for the triple-A 51s’ season opener, he was surprised to see his name scratched from the starting lineup.

“I was a little [ticked] off,” Hiatt said. “I figured something was up.”

What was up was Hiatt being called up from the Dodgers’ top minor league affiliate to take Tim Bogar’s spot on the 25-man roster, Bogar having gone on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right hamstring.

It got better for Hiatt, who started at third base Thursday night in the Dodgers’ 7-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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After racing to his apartment to throw a bag together and heading to McCarran International Airport to catch a flight at 1:10 p.m., Hiatt endured a crowded flight to Burbank and a harrowing cab ride to Dodger Stadium.

Hiatt wound up with the best view of Andy Ashby’s sterling Dodger debut before 20,542.

Ashby (1-0), who signed a three-year, $22.5-million contract as a free agent, tired in the seventh inning and gave up four runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out three and walked one in his 93 pitches. At one point, Ashby had retired 11 consecutive Arizona batters.

“I’ve always loved pitching here,” Ashby said. “It feels great to get that first one out of the way. The fans were great. My main thing is to go out there every five days and give us a chance to win.”

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Dodger setup man Terry Adams struck out three in 1 1/3 innings and closer Jeff Shaw gave up a run in the ninth inning.

Arizona starter Brian Anderson (0-1) gave up six runs, five earned, on seven hits while striking out one and walking one. The left-hander threw 59 pitches, 42 strikes.

While it was only the Dodgers’ fourth game of the season, it was close to being a badly needed victory, after the Dodgers were overmatched by Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in the first two games of the three-game set.

Entering the game, Dodger leadoff hitters Tom Goodwin and Marquis Grissom were a combined 0 for 13 at the top of the order.

And though Goodwin went only one for four Thursday, his first at-bat meant the most. Goodwin drove a full-count Anderson fastball deep into the empty right-field pavilion for a leadoff home run, the second of his career.

One pitch later, Mark Grudzielanek homered to left field.

“The thing that was even better,” Dodger Manager Jim Tracy said, “was when [Goodwin] went up the second time, Brian Anderson made a good play on it, but he hit a sharp grounder up the middle. Tom Goodwin understands that he needs to keep the ball on the ground. It’s not about average [so much] as it’s about on-base percentage.”

The Dodgers added two more runs in the second.

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With Hiatt on first courtesy of a fielder’s choice, Alex Cora tripled into the right-center gap.

Ashby then followed with a squeeze-play bunt that had Cora safely dive over Arizona catcher Damian Miller.

In the sixth, Shawn Green led off with a single and moved to third when Anderson’s pickoff attempt got by Diamondback first baseman Mark Grace.

Paul LoDuca’s single to right scored Green before LoDuca stole second, the second steal of his career. When Ashby laid down another sacrifice bunt, Miller’s attempt to get LoDuca at third sailed into left field, allowing Lo Duca to score and give the Dodgers a 6-0 lead.

In the fifth, Arizona pinch-hitter Erubiel Durazo drove a 1-2 Ashby offering into the right-field pavilion for a two-run homer.

The Dodgers got one back in the home half of the inning when Grudzielanek scored on Gary Sheffield’s sacrifice fly to left.

In the eighth, Hiatt nearly homered, his fly to dead center caught at the wall by Arizona center fielder Steve Finley.

So excited to be in the show was Hiatt, who last appeared in a major league game in 1996 with the Detroit Tigers, that he mistakenly sat in front of Green’s locker, one stall to the left of Hiatt’s.

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“I’m just happy to be here,” Hiatt said. “It’s been a while. I’m not going to ask any questions.”

There may still be some questions, though, about the Dodger leadoff situation, as the hitters at the top of the lineup are one for 17 through four games.


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