Choi's grand slam propels Dodgers

Choi's grand slam propels Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- Hee-Seop Choi's first career grand slam in the fifth inning gave the home crowd something to chant about for the first time all week, and the Dodgers let the left arm of Odalis Perez subdue the Rockies in a 6-3 victory over Colorado Friday night at Dodger Stadium.

Choi's blast off losing pitcher Jason Jennings (1-3) just cleared the wall in left-center, touching off a 40,150-voice chorus of "HEE-SEOP CHOI" that went up again when Jennings retired the side two batters later.

And when J.D. Drew hit a two-run homer down the line in left off Jennings' successor, Jose Acevedo, in the seventh, Drew's three syllables filled Chavez Ravine at the same booming volume.

Perez (4-1) went seven innings to snap his team's three-game losing streak, allowing three hits while striking out seven and walking just one.

The left-hander's mood afterward was as vindictive as it was jubilant. Six days ago at Coors Field, he was on the losing end of a 9-1 Colorado shellacking.

"It feels nice to let them know we're not in Colorado anymore," Perez said. "Dodger Stadium is tougher. They've had tough times here in the past, and today was the same."

Perez also feels nice about the run support he's been getting this year -- for a change.

"I don't think in baseball history you'll see a guy have 18 no-decisions [in one season] very often," Perez said of his Major League-high number in 2004.

"Now I go out there with the best confidence in my life."

Still, outside of the two homers, the Dodgers' hitting attack consisted of two singles by Paul Bako in the fifth and eighth and one by Ricky Ledee in the sixth.

"We made the most of five hits," said Dodgers manager Jim Tracy. "I think that's pretty indicative of a lot of patient at-bats."

From there, Tracy swung right into Choi's home-run turn.

"When [Cesar] Izturis was down two strikes and then worked a walk, Choi was ready to hit," said the manager.

Choi said, "Jennings throws a lot of first pitch fastballs. I hit an outside fastball."

On the first pitch.

Facts Machine
Choi on a tear for Los Angeles
After going 1-for-3 with a grand slam on Friday, Hee-Seop Choi is batting .264 with three homers, through April 29. The Dodgers first baseman is hitting .409 over his last six starts:
Choi appeared as a pinch-hitter on 4/24.

Perez's euphoria was brimming as he expressed his appreciation of Choi's performance.

"I feel happy for Choi because the beginning was tough for him here after being traded [in 2004]," Perez said. "This year, he's been working hard and it's nice to see him driving the ball, swinging the bat hard and putting the ball in play."

Choi's decisive home run naturally fueled reporters' eagerness to get Tracy talking about Choi possibly becoming the club's everyday first baseman, but Tracy wouldn't hear of it.

"[Choi] is starting to get himself into a good synch," Tracy said. "But you don't try to deter the process by throwing him out there against a tough left-hander. When you have an opportunity to use Olmedo Saenz against left-handers and get him some at-bats, it helps the ballclub both ways."

Going into Friday's game, Choi was 1-for-4 against left-handers, while Saenz was 6-for-15.

When the question was put to Choi, he commented gracefully, "Olmedo Saenz plays better against left-handers now. Right-hand pitchers are my job."

Side-arming right-hander Steve Schmoll began the eighth for the Dodgers, yielding the Rockies' second run when Brad Hawpe's one-out single scored Cory Sullivan from third. The Dodgers brought in left-hander Kelly Wunsch, who stopped the would-be Rockies rally by getting Todd Helton to ground into a double play.

Buddy Carlyle started the ninth, giving up a run on Preston Wilson's ground-rule double and Todd Greene's single just past third. Yhency Brazoban then retired Dustan Mohr and Garrett Atkins to earn his sixth save.

Jennings also loaded the bases in the fourth and sixth, giving up two walks in each of those innings, but getting out of jams each time.

Jennings lasted six innings, giving up only three hits, but surrendering eight bases on balls while striking out five before giving way to Acevedo. Chin-Hui Tsau took over in the eighth.

The Rockies took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Clint Barmes led off with a bloop double down the right-field line, advanced to third on Luis Gonzalez's sacrifice bunt and scored on Helton's bouncer to first.

Ted Brock is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.