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Grace’s Pitching Appearance Helped Soothe Sting of Loss

Though it was not his intention, Arizona first baseman Mark Grace’s cameo as a pitcher in the ninth inning of the Dodgers’ 19-1 thrashing of the Diamondbacks on Monday night provided more than comic relief. It took the sting out of the worst loss in franchise history.

“It was a stroke of genius,” Dodger center fielder Dave Roberts said. “You watch ‘SportsCenter,’ and the game couldn’t have been downplayed more. They could have shown every run we scored, and they didn’t. It made it easier for [the Diamondbacks] to realize it was a fluke.”

All Grace wanted to do was save a worn-out bullpen from having to throw another inning.

“In [the clubhouse] the focus wasn’t so much on the game and that we got our ... kicked,” Grace said. “It took the edge off the first eight innings.... One thing I’ve never been called is a genius. But if you want to, it’s spelled, G-E-N-I-U-S. I had a lot of fun.”

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Before his first pitch, Grace took an exaggerated deep breath and thrust his head toward the batter, an impression of teammate and former Dodger reliever Mike Fetters that had players from both dugouts laughing. Grace retired three of four batters, giving up a home run to David Ross.

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With a day off Thursday, Dodger Manager Jim Tracy will shuffle his rotation so that Hideo Nomo, who has a 9-3 record and 2.51 earned-run average in his career against San Francisco, can pitch against the Giants next Wednesday and left-hander Omar Daal can face a predominantly left-handed Colorado lineup next weekend.

Nomo will open a three-game series against Houston on Friday night, Daal will pitch Saturday and Kazuhisa Ishii will start Sunday. Odalis Perez, Andy Ashby and Nomo, who threw 7 2/3 shutout innings in a 3-0 win over the Giants in Pacific Bell Park on April 9, will start in San Francisco next week.

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Brian Jordan, who didn’t play for three weeks in August because of a protrusion in his lower back, woke up Monday feeling “pretty locked up and sore,” but the left fielder loosened up by game time and had a home run and a single Monday night. Jordan felt better Tuesday and said he’s determined not to let his injuries affect his play.

“I talked to [Tracy] about this, and he agreed to turn me loose,” Jordan said. “If it blows, it blows; let’s go for it. I want to win, and every game is important, so I’m going to give it all I have. Whatever happens, happens.”

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TODAY

DODGERS’

ANDY ASHBY

(9-10, 3.65 ERA)

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vs.

DIAMONDBACKS’

RANDY JOHNSON

(19-5, 2.63 ERA)

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Bank One Ballpark, 3 p.m.

TV--Fox Sports Net 2.

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

Update--Ashby has had control problems in his last two starts, walking nine in nine innings. He will attempt to become the fifth Dodger pitcher to win 10 games this season.

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Johnson’s six-game win streak ended in a 7-6 loss to San Francisco on Friday night.


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