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SHORT OUTING ON A LONG NIGHT HENDRICKSON STRUGGLES AGAIN, AS DODGERS GO INTO THE 10TH.

Byline: TONY JACKSON Staff Writer

Mark Hendrickson's tenuous grip on his spot in the Dodgers' starting rotation took another hit just before game time Tuesday night, when word came that the club was trying to acquire veteran lefty David Wells from Boston.

It took another hit in the fifth inning. Right about the time Hendrickson was taking another early shower.

The lanky left-hander, whose reputation when the Dodgers got him from Tampa Bay two months ago was that he routinely pitched deep into games, couldn't even go deep enough into this one to qualify for the win. Not that he would have gotten it anyway, because the bases-loaded, nobody-out mess he left for reliever Aaron Sele led to Cincinnati scoring the tying run.

The two teams then exchanged runs in the sixth and were still knotted at 5-5 going into the bottom of the 10th inning in front of 44,697 at Dodger Stadium.

Hendrickson failed to go more than six-plus innings for the 10th time in his 11 starts for the Dodgers. The fact Sele was able to escape Hendrickson's jam with only one run scoring begged the question of whether Sele might be on the verge of replacing Hendrickson in the rotation. But if the Dodgers trade for Wells - which seems highly unlikely given what the Red Sox are asking for him - there will be no question to answer where Hendrickson is concerned.

Since joining the Dodgers, Hendrickson has won one game and posted a 5.07 ERA. And while his run support has been next to nothing, with the Dodgers averaging 2.4 runs in his first 10 starts, it was next to something this time. The Dodgers staked him to a 3-0 lead after one inning against an ineffective Eric Milton and a 4-1 cushion after three.

That's when Hendrickson fell apart.

Ken Griffey Jr. led off the fourth with a single, and Rich Aurilia followed with a two-run homer, pulling the Reds within one. Hendrickson got out of that inning with no further damage, but only after a running catch by center fielder Jason Repko became an inning-ending double play when Repko threw to first to double off Brandon Phillips, who already had rounded second.

Milton, who by then had settled into some semblance of a groove, led off the fifth with a single up the middle. Ryan Freel and Adam Dunn followed with two more singles, loading the bases and sending Hendrickson to his room.

Although Sele got Edwin Encarnacion to ground into a force at home, first baseman Nomar Garciaparra had no play anywhere but first on Griffey's subsequent bouncer, and the score was tied 5-5. Aurilia then grounded out to strand runners on second and third.

The Reds took a brief, 6-5 lead off Sele in the sixth when David Ross doubled and Phillips, who already had homered, singled home Ross. Phillips is 7 for 9 with two homers and four RBI in the first two games of the series.

But with Milton out of the game, the Dodgers came right back to tie it in the bottom of the inning, although they should have done much more than that. Catcher Toby Hall - whose own playing time also is jeopardized by Hendrickson's ineffectiveness because he only catches on days when Hendrickson starts - led off the inning with a one-hopper to right field that was hit so sharply that Ryan Freel almost threw him out at first. It wasn't the last time in the inning that Hall's baserunning ability - or lack thereof - would loom large for the Dodgers.

Repko and Wilson Betemit then singled, but there was no way Hall was going to score from second. When Rafael Furcal then came up with the Dodgers' fourth hit in a row, Hall almost didn't score from third. He stood motionless just off the bag waiting for Furcal's hit to fall in front of Reds left fielder Adam Dunn, and when it finally did, Hall finally took off.

Hall touched the plate less than a half-second before Dunn's throw hit Ross's mitt.

The Dodgers then blew the rest of the inning, with Julio Lugo hitting into a first-to-home-to-first double play and Garciaparra flying out to right.

When Hall led off the eighth inning with a double, manager Grady Little sent the speedy Kenny Lofton to run for him. Not that it did any good. Repko bunted Lofton to third, David Weathers entered the game and struck out Olmedo Saenz, an d after Weathers walked Furcal, Lugo took a called third strike. To that point, Lugo was 0 for 5 and batting .237 since the Dodgers got him from Tampa Bay at the trade deadline.

tony.jackson@dailynews.com

(818) 713-3675

CAPTION(S):

3 photos, box

Photo:

(1 -- color) Dodgers starter Mark Hendrickson lasted just four innings and gave up four runs on nine hits.

(2) The Dodgers' Jeff Kent hits a home run against Cincinnati on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.

(3) Toby Hall crosses the plate ahead of the throw to tie the score at 5-5 in the sixth inning against the Reds.

Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer

Box:

DODGERS vs. CINCINNATI

- Tony Jackson
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 30, 2006
Words:859
Previous Article:POINT BREAK LEADING INTO THE HOMESTRETCH OF THE CHASE DOESN'T GUARANTEE THE CUP -- JUST ASK KENSETH AND JOHNSON.
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