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Dodgers Take a Whiff of a Loss

Times Staff Writer

It was unorthodox, but the Dodgers permitted Kazuhisa Ishii to follow an individual workout program in spring training and then declared it a success despite questionable results.

They maintained a confident stance Thursday afternoon after Ishii’s rough outing in a 6-1 loss to the San Diego Padres before 19,863 at Qualcomm Stadium.

The injury-ravaged Padres didn’t appear as hapless as they did in being swept by the San Francisco Giants in an opening three-game series, sending 10 batters to the plate in a five-run fourth while chasing the Dodger left-hander.

Mark Loretta’s two-out, bases-loaded triple into the right-field corner provided the knockout punch and a cushion for starter Jake Peavy, who threw 110 pitches in only five innings but earned the victory and established a personal best with 11 strikeouts.

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The Dodgers had 16 strikeouts and only two hits -- including Brian Jordan’s third home run -- against Peavy and relievers Mike Bynum and Brandon Villafuerte. Shawn Green and Fred McGriff, batting third and fourth, had especially difficult experiences.

McGriff struck out in four plate appearances, and Green had three strikeouts and a single. With one out, runners on first and second and the Dodgers trailing, 5-1, in the fifth, Peavy struck out Green and McGriff for the third time each.

“He had the shadows working,” Jordan said. “Not to take anything away from Peavy, but it looked like it was tough to see the ball. He was selectively wild, I guess, or whatever you want to call it.”

The Padres scored as many runs as they did in three games against the Giants, making the most of a 12-hit attack and taking their first lead of the season in the fourth as Ishii struggled. Loretta had three hits, and Mark Kotsay, Xavier Nady and Gary Bennett two apiece.

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The Dodgers designed a spring program to help Ishii feel comfortable and, hopefully, pitch more effectively than he did last season, but he didn’t fare well on his first test.

“I don’t think it was a matter of my training in spring training,” Ishii said through an interpreter. “I talked with the coaches and we made a [good] program. I just have to be more aggressive.”

After the 14-game winner had problems establishing a rhythm in his first season from Japan, pitching coach Jim Colborn and Ishii developed a program that had him face fewer batters than other starters. Ishii went 11 days between exhibition appearances and still had command problems, walking 12 in 16 innings.

The Dodgers said his regimen had nothing to do with Thursday’s 3 2/3-inning, six-hit, five-run effort.

“It’s totally not even an issue,” Manager Jim Tracy said of Ishii, who threw 46 strikes in 78 pitches. “The game boiled down to a big at-bat by Mark Loretta in the fourth inning. He left the ball up and out over the plate, and he hit the ball down into our bullpen.”

Catcher Todd Hundley said the Padres finally figured out Ishii in their four-hit fourth.

“They just basically started sitting on curveballs,” he said. “We were getting it over for strikes, and they made adjustments.

“Early in the game, they were taking curveballs and hacking at any close fastballs. In the fourth, they were taking fastballs and hacking at curveballs that were anywhere close.”

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Said Colborn: “I’m not sure what the problem was, I haven’t had a chance to analyze it. The goal today was to come out with intensity in the first inning, and he sure did it in the first, second and third.

“Maybe some pitches went against him in the fourth inning, and I don’t know if that contributed to a loss of focus or whatever. He sure did accomplish the main goal to be intense and focused from the beginning. We just have to keep working on it.”


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