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Barajas delivers in debut

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Associated Press
August 25, 2010
— Rod Barajas figured something big was going on when he caught a glimpse of Tommy Lasorda sitting nearby. Lasorda and other luminaries were there to honor baseball commissioner Bud Selig, but the new Dodgers catcher was nervous long before that.

Barajas made a smashing debut for the Dodgers with a three-run homer and Ted Lilly won his fifth straight in Los Angeles’ 5-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.


“It’s neat, you know? There’s a lot of people here, it’s a packed house and I didn’t realize it until about the sixth inning that I saw Tommy Lasorda sitting right next to the dugout,” Barajas said. “That was great to play well in front of him.”


Matt Kemp added a 447-foot homer in the second, but Barajas dealt the biggest blow in the sixth after starting his career in Los Angeles with consecutive doubles.


The 34-year-old Barajas was claimed from the Mets on Sunday.


“It’s been exciting. This is the first time it’s ever happened to me. The fact that I came to the Dodgers was the real exciting part,” said Barajas, who grew up in nearby Ontario, Calif. “Being an L.A. boy, growing up and cheering for these guys, I was nervous coming in here, I honestly was.”


With the Brewers trailing 5-3 in the eighth, Casey McGehee lined sharply to third baseman Ronnie Belliard, whose snap throw to second doubled off Prince Fielder to end the inning.


Selig, the former Brewers owner who pushed to get Miller Park built, spoke for 15 minutes at a ceremony several hours before the game attended by Hall of Famers Robin Yount, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Ernie Banks and Al Kaline along with more than a dozen owners and dignitaries representing most of the 30 clubs.


Rachel Robinson, the widow of Jackie Robinson, also sat in the front row as the bronze, 7-foot statue of Selig holding a baseball in his right hand was revealed for the first time, joining those of Yount and Aaron.


“I guess it would’ve been nice,” Bush said of winning one for Selig. “But, I hadn’t thought about it.”


Hong-Chih Kuo allowed a bunt single by Carlos Gomez and threw away a grounder to put two on and one out in the ninth, but finished his fifth save of the season by getting Corey Hart to pop out and striking out Weeks to end it.


Barajas will have to get used to a smaller media group, saying that there were typically three times as many people around his locker in New York. His power certainly came with him west.


“Turns out the manager’s dumb for batting him eighth, I guess,” Joe Torre said.


Lilly, who came over in a July trade from the Cubs, had his scoreless innings streak snapped at 17 after allowing a run in the second and trailed 3-2 after Rickie Weeks’ homer and Ryan Braun’s RBI double in the fifth. But Barajas answered right back.


“At this point I’m still not convinced that we’re out of it,” Lilly said despite the Dodgers sitting in fourth place in the NL West and seven games out in the NL wild card chase. “Crazier things have happened. I’d like to be optimistic.”


Manny Ramirez, amid speculation he’ll be put on the waiver wire soon, went 0 for 4 with a strikeout in his second appearance since coming back from his third trip to the disabled list this season. He’s hitless in his last 10 at-bats.


“He looks out of rhythm timing wise, he’s a little long with his swing, it’s level, he’s not uppercutting, trying to help it, he’s just a little behind it right now,” Torre said. “He’ll start tomorrow and get the day off Thursday.”


Kemp’s homer hit the scoreboard just below the word “Brewers” on the digital display to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.


, and Lilly (8-8) worked out of serious trouble until the fifth.


After getting the first two outs, Weeks homered to right field, Alcides Escobar singled and scored on Braun’s double to give Milwaukee a 3-2 lead. Brewers starter Dave Bush (6-11) gave the runs back in the sixth.


After getting the first two outs, he allowed consecutive singles before Barajas’ blast into the netting above the Brewers’ bullpen in left-center field.



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