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Ishii Gives the Dodgers a Boost

Times Staff Writer

Dave Roberts crumpled to the ground in agony, and for a moment it seemed the Dodgers’ lingering playoff hopes crumpled with him.

Roberts had slammed his head into Colorado second baseman Ronnie Belliard’s leg while sliding into second on a stolen base in the sixth inning and appeared woozy during an on-field examination.

But Roberts escaped serious injury, staying in the game to score the only run the Dodgers would need during a 5-0 victory over the Rockies before 35,136 at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night.

Roberts was diagnosed with a sprained neck and is listed as day-to-day.

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The victory enabled the Dodgers to surpass Arizona, Montreal and Chicago -- all losers Saturday -- and move into fifth place in the National League wild-card standings, 1 1/2 games behind Philadelphia and Florida.

The Dodgers received a better-than-expected start from Kazuhisa Ishii, who pitched five shutout innings in his first outing since July 29, and reliever Guillermo Mota (4-2) struck out four during two perfect innings to pick up the victory.

With a five-run lead in the ninth, the Dodgers used reliever Paul Shuey instead of closer Eric Gagne, since it was not a save situation.

Roberts broke up Colorado starter Denny Stark’s no-hit bid leading off the bottom of the sixth when he hit a grounder to Juan Uribe that the shortstop momentarily lost the handle on before throwing late to first.

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Roberts then suffered his neck injury stealing second but remained in the game after about a five-minute delay.

“Obviously, as long as he was down, there was a lot of concern among all of us,” outfielder Jeromy Burnitz said.

Concern quickly transformed into jubilation as the Dodgers struck for four runs to chase Stark, who had been 3-0 with a 1.60 earned-run average against the Dodgers. Stark issued consecutive walks to Paul Lo Duca and Shawn Green to load the bases before Fred McGriff was retired on an infield fly.

Adrian Beltre walked to score Roberts with the first run, and Burnitz followed with a two-run single into the hole on the right side that brought home Lo Duca and Green.

Aaron Cook relieved Stark, but he could not staunch the bleeding when Alex Cora added a run-scoring single to right that gave the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.

Stark, who had looked so dominant only minutes earlier, finished with a not-so-stellar pitching line: 5 1/3 innings, two hits, four runs and six walks.

Jolbert Cabrera replaced Roberts in center field to start the seventh, when the Dodgers scored an insurance run on Robin Ventura’s single past Belliard.

Roberts was unavailable for comment after the game.

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Ishii also issued six walks but pitched his way out of trouble every time.

The pitcher, who had been sidelined because of a sprained ligament in his left knee, escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fifth when he got Preston Wilson to foul out and struck out Larry Walker looking.

Ishii gave up three hits while throwing 96 pitches, which exceeded Manager Jim Tracy’s pregame estimate of 75 to 90.

“He did a nice job for us his first game back,” Tracy said. “I was pleasantly surprised.”

Ishii said he was not tired when he was removed in the sixth, but Tracy maintained a short leash as expected given Ishii’s extended layoff and the fact that every game is important for the Dodgers.

Ishii said returning to the Dodger Stadium mound gave him chills.

“I saw the team fighting and contending with other teams and all I thought was I wanted to be part of the team,” Ishii said through an interpreter.

Tracy said Ishii did not make a rehabilitation start after missing more than a month because that is the way pitchers coming off extended layoffs are handled in Japan.

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“This guy did that over there for quite a long period of time,” Tracy said. “He’s not in a position where we felt like a rehab start was going to be very good for him.

“Psychologically, it was not going to be a very good thing for him to do.”


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