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Four-Man Rotation Could Be Temporary

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Eric Gagne has moved to the bullpen indefinitely because Manager Jim Tracy and pitching coach Jim Colborn are experimenting with a four-man rotation, but Tracy said the Dodgers might not stick with the plan for the remainder of the season.

Kevin Brown, Chan Ho Park, James Baldwin and Terry Adams will start through Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, but many factors will determine whether the right-handers continue to work on only three days’ rest.

The Dodgers will revert to the typical five-man format if they drop out of contention in the National League West or wild-card races, or one of the pitchers struggles because of fatigue.

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Moreover, Tracy might use Gagne, rookie right-hander Luke Prokopec or veteran left-hander Terry Mulholland for a start to realign the rotation on four days’ rest before the final two series against the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks.

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Tracy and Colborn are not especially concerned that Brown’s velocity decreased significantly in his previous start.

In his second outing since coming off the disabled list, Brown gave up six hits and three runs in five innings in Sunday’s 7-3 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium.

A scout attending the game said the velocity dropoff was most evident in the second and third innings, in which the Cardinals scored their runs.

Brown still has a partially torn muscle on his pitching elbow, but Tracy and Colborn said the injury did not cause his problems against the Cardinals.

They believe the problem is mechanical, saying Brown might have subconsciously altered his delivery to protect his elbow. Also, Brown might simply be out of sync because of the time off.

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Is first baseman Eric Karros emerging from a season-long slump?

He’s nine for 21 with two home runs during a six-game hitting streak, so Tracy might put him in the opening lineup tonight against the Rockies although Park is scheduled to start.

Tracy had benched Karros when Park pitched recently, moving the productive Paul Lo Duca to first base because Chad Kreuter is Park’s primary catcher.

But Tracy said Lo Duca needs a day off, and it comes at a good time because Karros has displayed positive signs at the plate.

Karros’ 18 homers at Coors Field are the most by a visiting player.

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Infielder Tim Bogar, limited to 12 games because of injuries, was not activated when the rosters were expanded because he’s recovering from a sprained right foot.

Tracy said Bogar, who has a salary of $525,000, might not play again this season. The club holds a $575,000 option for 2002 .... Closer Jeff Shaw needs two saves to tie Todd Worrell atop the all-time franchise list at 127. Shaw has 39 saves this season and 199 in his career .... Pitchers Prokopec, Jeff Williams and Al Reyes, and catcher Brian Johnson were recalled from triple-A Las Vegas.

TONIGHT

DODGERS’

CHAN HO PARK

(13-9, 3.05 ERA)

vs.

ROCKIES’

JOHN THOMSON

(2-5, 4.21 ERA)

Coors Field, 6 PDT

TV: Fox Sports Net 2.

Radio: KXTA (1150), KWKW (1330).

Update: The Dodgers hope Park, coming off another lackluster performance, reverts to his earlier-season form. He gave up four runs in 52/3 innings last Thursday in a 5-4 victory against the Rockies at Dodger Stadium. He is 3-0 with a 2.66 earned-run average in three starts against Colorado this season, and 8-5 with a 5.67 ERA in his career. Thomson is 0-2 with a 9.98 ERA against the Dodgers.

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