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WILD ON THE WALK SIDE; DODGERS OUTLAST BRAVES DESPITE BASE-ON-BALLS FEST : DODGERS 5, ATLANTA 4.

Byline: Brian Dohn Daily News Staff Writer

Jamie Arnold thought about what the moment should feel like. He should be nervous. Really, really, really nervous.

It was compounded by the fact he actually made his big-league debut with the bases loaded and one out and the Dodgers holding a two-run lead.

The debut ended with the Dodgers beating the Atlanta Braves 5-4 in an otherwise forgettable walk-a-thon that featured 19 bases on balls Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. It was a game that was lapped by a pair of snails racing.

Atlanta had two hits, both by Randall Simon, but left 11 runners on base. Dodgers right-hander Darren Dreifort allowed both hits, but he walked a career-high nine in 5-1/3 innings.

``I always imagined myself a little nervous, but I wasn't as nervous as I thought,'' said Arnold, who joined the Dodgers earlier in the day after having his contract purchased from Triple-A Albuquerque. ``I'm surprised I did as well as I did. I knew I had it in me, but nerves sometimes can do weird things.''

What Arnold did was give a jolt to a hurting bullpen, and pitch in a role he wasn't supposed to pitch in. Antonio Osuna was supposed to get the call with the bases loaded in the sixth, but he was bothered by elbow soreness and will have an MRI today.

Arnold, a former No. 1 draft pick by the Braves, wasn't perfect. But he did what the rest of the Dodgers pitchers did - enough to afford Jeff Shaw the opportunity to earn his fourth save.

Arnold made his major-league debut by walking Otis Nixon to force in the Braves' fourth run, but he got Bret Boone to ground back to the mound for a force out at home and Chipper Jones flied to center to end the inning.

``Arnold was the hero,'' Johnson said. ``He came in and got me to Shaw. And Shaw did a great job closing.''

Another good to come out of the Dodgers' second win in five games was Jose Vizcaino. The utility infielder went 4 for 4 and did enough for Johnson to declare him the starter again today at shortstop in place of the struggling Mark Grudzielanek.

But this was about pitching - and not being able to find the plate.

For the second straight start, Dreifort (3-0) was nearly unhittable. But unlike his seven-inning masterpiece against Randy Johnson and the Arizona Diamondbacks last week, it wasn't easy for Dreifort.

He's spent the early part of his career with baffling stuff but by also baffling managers with control problems. Simon's were the only hits, but both times Simon scored when Dreifort walked three Braves.

``If I knew why (I walked batters) I wouldn't do it nine times, that's for sure,'' Dreifort said.

In the sixth inning Dreifort walked his ninth batter before giving way to Arnold.

``(Dreifort) has got nasty stuff when his sinker is all over the place,'' Shaw said. ``He'll tell you this: He can try to throw the sinker right down the middle and it sinks all over the place.''

Millwood was worse. He was wild and hittable, not to mention nearly unwatchable. In 3-1/3 innings he allowed six hits, walked four and gave up four runs. He walked Eric Karros to lead off the second and then grooved a 1-0 pitch that Devon White hit over the right-field fence. White's third homer of the season tied things 2-2.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

PHOTO (Color) Dodgers' Eric Young is tagged out by Braves' Walt Weiss trying to steal second.

Michael Caulfield/Associated Press
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 21, 1999
Words:598
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