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DREIFORT LOSES 'VROOM-VROOM' PADRES HAND HIM FOURTH CONSECUTIVE LOSS SAN DIEGO 5, DODGERS 4.

Byline: Lee Barnathan Staff Writer

Darren Dreifort won out over Major League Baseball on Thursday. He has yet to figure out how to beat San Diego, however.

Now, he has no explanation for his slump, and everyone wonders when he'll next beat anyone.

The Padres extended Dreifort's season losing streak to four games with three home runs and earned a split in the four-game series with a 5-4 victory in front of 50,171 fans at Dodger Stadium.

The only National League team Dreifort hasn't beaten is San Diego - he's 0-5 lifetime. Now, he's 1-6 in his last seven starts this season and hasn't won since June 7 at Texas.

Earlier Thursday, Dreifort (4-7) had his three-game suspension overturned by Major League Baseball president and CEO Paul Beeston.

He will have to settle for just that victory after surrendering two-run homers to Wiki Gonzalez (in the second inning) and Phil Nevin, and a solo shot to Ruben Rivera, both in the fifth. Before each two-run homer, Dreifort walked the leadoff batter.

``Leadoff walks (stink),'' Dreifort said. ``They'll kill you.''

Dreifort's line: five earned runs and six hits in six innings, with three walks and seven strikeouts. He has given up 31 earned runs in his last 45 1/3 innings.

He continues to not be right since May 17 in Chicago when, in the fourth inning, he jammed his left knee sliding into third base. He also had a test done on his biceps this week, but nothing came from it.

And yet, neither he nor pitching coach Claude Osteen nor manager Davey Johnson can find anything seriously physically wrong with him.

``If I had a theory, I'd be doing better,'' Dreifort said.

``He's not 100 percent,'' Johnson said. ``I'm not seeing the same vroom-vroom. I'm not seeing what I've seen. He's not getting that rhythm. Six innings and about 100 pitches. that's not low key.''

The Dodgers tried to give Dreifort a no-decision by challenging in each of the final three innings. They chased starter Matt Clement (7-7) in the seventh after getting runners at the corners. Reliever Carlos Reyes got one out before balking in Alex Cora to make it 5-3 then got another out and walked Gary Sheffield.

Kevin Walker gave up Green's RBI single and walked Eric Karros to load the bases before ending the threat by getting Todd Hundley to foul out.

Matt Whiteside stranded Adrian Beltre after walking him to lead off the eighth, and Trevor Hoffman earned his 20th save with a one-walk, one-strikeout ninth.

Clement gave up four runs and five hits with six walks and six strikeouts in six-plus innings. His walk and strikeout totals are consistent with his season. Clement has walked six batters three other times this season and struck out six or more six other times. He also threw his 13th wild pitch of the season, ranking him second in the league.

The Dodgers cut San Diego's lead to 2-1 on Green's sacrifice fly in the third off Clement, then tied the score on Todd Hollandsworth's single that scored Dreifort, who hit a broken-bat double to left.

``We seem to be a little sluggish on offense,'' Johnson said. ``We swing at some bad pitches. The bats have kind of been cold the last 10 days. The middle of the lineup is struggling.''

The middle of the lineup - Sheffield, Green and Karros - were 1 for 9 Thursday with two RBI and went 6 for 43 (.140) during this four-game homestand.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo: Darren Dreifort can't watch as San Diego runners make their way around the bases during a three-run sixth inning.

Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 30, 2000
Words:608
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Next Article:BLESSINGS FOR PEACE; DALAI LAMA PREACHES.


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