Dodgers are driven to distraction by Giants

Times Staff Writer

Funny how two wholly unrelated objects can elicit the same reaction.

Mulholland Drive and Dave Roberts, for instance, both cause queasiness in members of the Little family.

An afternoon motorcycle ride around L.A. by Dodgers Manager Grady Little and his wife, Debi, was enjoyable except for the twists and turns of the well-known ridgeline road.

An evening ballgame at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday was marred by the swings and speed of Roberts, who led the San Francisco Giants to a 5-3 victory.


The veteran outfielder signed with the Giants after the Dodgers outbid their rivals to the north for Juan Pierre. Roberts was the better player for a day, hitting a home run against Derek Lowe four innings after leading off the game with a single, stolen base and run.

“Dave Roberts is a pesky guy,” Little said. “He’s leading off for a good team, just like he always has, giving us problems, like he always does.”

Lowe had trouble up and down the Giants lineup, giving up nine hits, while the Dodgers were baffled by right-hander Matt Morris and his 65-mph curveball, a pitch that traveled no faster than Little does on the Yamaha cruiser Pierre bought for him in exchange for his uniform number.

“Morris featured more off-speed pitches than we were accustomed to seeing,” Little said. “It was a good outing for him.”


Little’s outing during the off-day Monday with Debi riding on back included a sun-baked tour through Hollywood, hot dogs at Carney’s and winding through rush-hour traffic where the 134 meets the 210 on the way back to their home in Pasadena.

“She liked it all except Mulholland,” he said. “Those curves took a lot of the enjoyment out of it for her.”

The ballgame included its own little adventures, including traffic on the bases by the Dodgers in the eighth inning. Trailing, 5-1, they finally figured out Morris, with Rafael Furcal, Pierre and Nomar Garciaparra producing a run on consecutive one-out hits. Jeff Kent drove in another run with a single against reliever Brad Hennessey, but Jack Taschner induced a double-play groundball from Luis Gonzalez.

The Dodgers had two more hits in the ninth against Armando Benitez, but the slimmed-down closer got Furcal to bounce into the last out, snapping a streak of eight consecutive victories against the Giants.


The streak had been the fourth-longest in the series by either team since 1922, and included a series sweep at San Francisco two weeks ago. But the Giants (10-8) have won six in a row to pull within two games of the first-place Dodgers (13-7).

Two hours before the game, Lowe (2-3) spent time with patients from the Mattel Children’s Hospital, who launched a new community program. The easygoing right-hander is a rare pitcher who doesn’t mind disrupting his routine by talking to fans on the days he throws.

“Some of those kids had never been to a ballgame,” he said. “Spending 15 minutes talking to them, it’s not going to affect the way I pitch. It’s good for them, that’s all that matters.”

He would have preferred giving them a better performance. But Roberts, for one, dashed that hope. “When you think of Dave Roberts, you don’t think of home runs,” Lowe said.


Normally one doesn’t think of Mulholland Drive, either. But for one night, Little did.