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Mattingly lifts Dodgers in GCL Finals opener08/23/2006 8:03 PM ET
By Chip Haunss / Special to MLB.com
Preston Mattingly smacked an RBI double and scored in the ninth inning as the Dodgers beat the Red Sox, 2-0, in the opener of the Gulf Coast Finals.
Elian Herrera led off the top of the ninth with a double and advanced on Francisco Lizarraga's sacrifice, setting up Mattingly's heroics. The 18-year-old designated hitter, who was hitless in his first three at-bats, delivered a double into left field, plating Herrera with the go-ahead run.
"I was struggling all game," Mattingly said. "I wasn't seeing the ball well and I was swinging at pitches out of the zone. I was just looking for a pitch to lift for a sacrifice fly. The first pitch was up and I hit it well."
Brian Matthews, who hit the winning homer in the 10th inning of Tuesday's one-game playoff against the Tigers, followed with a single, advancing Mattingly to third. The No. 31 pick in the 2006 draft scored an insurance run on a wild pitch by reliever Mauricio Mendez (0-1).
"Mattingly saw the ball get away and got a great jump," Dodgers manager Juan Bustabud said. "Great hustle, good heads-up baserunning."
When asked if his father, legendary Yankee Don, would have scored on the wild pitch, the younger Mattingly said, "I'm not sure about that, but I know I am way faster than he was."
Dodgers starter Jhonny Nunez yielded just two hits over six scoreless innings, but did not factor in the decision. He struck out eight and walked two.
The 20-year-old right-hander was a 6-0 with a 1.58 ERA in 10 appearances -- eight starts -- during the regular season. He had 56 strikeouts in 57 innings and opponents were batting .177 against him entering Wednesday's start.
"He's been dominant all season and was dominant again today," Bustabud said. "We were very confident with him out there and he threw six great innings. He pitched his heart out."
Thomas Melgarejo (1-0) allowed two hits and three walks while striking out one over three scoreless innings for the win. The 19-year-old left-hander, a starter most of the season, was making only his second appearance in relief and had to work out of jams in both the eighth and ninth.
Melgarejo retired Jonathan Egan on a groundout to first with the bases loaded to end the eighth. With a runner on second and one out in the ninth, Melgarejo got Chih-Hsien Chiang to fly out before Matt Sheely's comebacker ended the game.
"Melgarejo did an outstanding job," said Bustabud. "He had a couple of guys on base, but worked out of it and then closed the door in ninth to get us the win."
Bustabud has been impressed with his team's performance the past two days. "We had to go on the road and beat a very good Tigers team and then a good Red Sox team at their place," he said. "It was a great team effort. We played good fundamental baseball. We are playing really well right now."
Mendez allowed two runs on four hits over two innings. He struck out two and did not issue a walk. Red Sox starter Felix Doubront matched Nunez's performance, allowing three hits over seven scoreless innings. He struck out nine and did not walk a batter.
Michael Jones went 3-for-3 with a walk to lead the Red Sox.
Game 2 of the best-of-3 series is scheduled for noon ET on Thursday at Dodgertown.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.