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PROKOPEC ACTS LIKE A REAL PRO ROOKIE SHOWS ANOTHER SOLID EFFORT DODGERS 4, SAN DIEGO 2.

Byline: Rich Hammond Staff Writer

Every time Luke Prokopec takes the mound these days, he knows it could be his last start in a major-league ballpark for quite some time.

So it shouldn't be much of a surprise that he did his best work Saturday night while under pressure.

The 23-year-old rookie right-hander didn't dominate the Padres, but battled through six solid innings and was bolstered by his team's four-run fifth inning in a 4-2 victory in front of 30,295 at Dodger Stadium.

Prokopec made only the fifth start of his brief career, and is only in the majors right now only because Andy Ashby is on the disabled list with a sore elbow.

Jeff Shaw pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save.

``The harder I make it for (manager Jim Tracy) and them to send me down the better, I think,'' said Prokopec, who gave up two runs on six hits, walked none and struck out five. ``I just have to do my time and eventually I'll catch a break hopefully.''

He probably will make at least two more starts before Ashby returns, and then it could be back to Triple-A Las Vegas. But Prokopec is working to impress the Dodgers' staff for the future, and his effort Saturday night certainly didn't hurt his cause.

Prokopec didn't dominate as in his only other start this year, when he held the Giants to one run in seven innings April 6. But Saturday he showed he doesn't have to have his best stuff to win.

``He wasn't quite as sharp as the first time around, but that would be hard to duplicate,'' Tracy said. ``He showed a lot of poise in situations where he had to make some (tough) pitches.''

The Padres touched Prokopec for five hits in the first three innings, and he trailed 1-0 until the Dodgers had their only real rally.

In between, Prokopec stranded three runners in scoring position and got some help defensively. A first-inning double play scored Rickey Henderson from third but prevented any more damage, and two Padres were thrown out at home, one on a double steal and the other on a fielder's choice groundout.

For the second time in as many nights, the Dodgers were held quiet early on by one of the Padres' journeyman starting pitchers. This time it was Kevin Jarvis, 15-24 lifetime, who kept them at bay the first four innings.

The Dodgers finally broke through in the fifth in a flurry of footwear and headgear.

Angel Pena and Alex Cora led off with consecutive singles. When Prokopec bounced a ball at first baseman Ryan Klesko, nobody covered second base and he was forced to throw to first and let both runners move over.

Tom Goodwin, who had struck out and grounded into a double play in his previous at-bats, ripped a ball just fair down the right-field line and cruised into third base even though he lost his left shoe as he reached second.

San Diego manager Bruce Bochy argued that a fan touched the ball in the right-field corner, which would have sent Cora back to third and Goodwin to second, but Bochy was ejected and lost his hat to the wind in the process.

``It was a judgment call and I didn't agree with it,'' Bochy said. ``That's a huge run. We would have been playing in a one-run game (at the end).''

The rally continued without Bochy, as Mark Grudzielanek extended his hitting streak to nine games with a RBI single to right. He moved to third on a Gary Sheffield single and scored on Shawn Green's sacrifice fly for a 4-1 lead.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 22, 2001
Words:610
Previous Article:DODGERS NOTEBOOK: GOODWIN'S WALKS BRING GOOD THINGS.
Next Article:[0] PROKOPEC ACTS LIKE A REAL PRO ROOKIE SHOWS ANOTHER SOLID EFFORT DODGERS 4, SAN DIEGO 2.


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