|Major League Baseball wraps up first China trip with Padres beating Dodgers 6-3|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 16 March 2008 02:52|
``I would love to come back,'' Dodgers chairman Frank McCourt said Sunday, when Los Angeles lost to the San Diego Padres 6-3 in the finale of a two-game exhibition series. ``I feel we would be making a mistake if we felt that by playing these exhibition games the job was done. The job has just begun.''
Padres pitcher Josh Geer picked up the victory, and Scott Hairston hit a tiebreaking double for San Diego, which overcame a three-run deficit.
Saturday's opener ended in a 3-3 tie after nine innings, typical of a spring training game. Sunday's game drew a near-sellout crowd of 11,890, down slightly from 12,224 the previous day.
Both had the feel of games played almost anywhere in America with hot dogs and peanuts on sale and vendors selling beer and soft drinks. Many of the vendors even wore shirts patterned after the Texas flag with Dodgers and Padres caps selling briskly.
The only hints this was China came from a Chinese flag waving in left field - the U.S. flag was alongside - and a stadium of mostly non-baseball fans cheering foul balls and ordinary outs.
``I absolutely think it's been a memorable weekend for the fans and for us in a different environment,'' Padres third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff said. ``It was pretty cool to play in front of people who had never seen baseball before.''
The first ball used in Saturday's game will go into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. There were also raves for the new Olympic field, which players all praised. It was 320 feet down both lines and 400 to center. The infield was hard and fast.
``The guys were saying the field was at least as good as facilities back in Florida or Arizona,'' said Murray Cook, in charge of MLB's international field preparations.
Batting in the bottom of the first, the Dodgers showed the Chinese some textbook baseball. Taiwanese shortstop Chin-lung Hu singled, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Xavier Paul. He then swiped third and scored on Matt Kemp lineout to left.
Kemp also delivered in the third with a two-out, two-run single that made it 3-0. The Padres closed to 3-2 in the fourth as Kouzmanoff hit an RBI double and Matt Antonelli hit into a run-scoring double play.
Hairston's double and an error by left fielder George Lombard put the Padres ahead 5-3 in the fifth. They added another run in the seventh.
``I think this has opened the eyes of all the Americans here,'' McCourt said. ``We came with a gift, the gift of baseball but I think we left with a bigger gift - the hospitality, the warmth and friendship of the Chinese people.''