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Crawford hits first homerun for Dodgers in loss to Oakland

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POSTED March 25, 2013 1:11 a.m.

PHOENIX (AP) — Sunday was a day of mixed emotions for Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.

On the bright side, Carl Crawford had two hits on Sunday, including a solo home run, in his second start in left field after missing most of 2012 following surgery on his (left) throwing elbow. He also made a handful of solid throws from the outfield.

On a less promising note, starter Josh Beckett gave up seven runs on six hits in four innings of Los Angeles’ 7-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

Beckett had strong efforts in his three previous spring starts, but the right-hander couldn’t get many of his pitches to work this time around.

“He couldn’t get the breaking ball over. That’s a big weapon for him,” Mattingly said. “It slows guys down. The fastball, slider and cutter are all on the same plane, and this one really isn’t.”

Mattingly had played catch with Crawford about 10 days ago and could sense he was close to being ready to play in the field.

“The ball had carry on it. It carried through me. I knew he was going to be fine. Today there were a couple of throws (that Crawford could have rushed), but he didn’t get into a hurry. If you didn’t know (about the surgery), you wouldn’t know anything by his throws.”

Crawford began last season with Boston, playing in 31 games before having surgery. He came to the Dodgers in a trade with Beckett.

Right fielder Andre Either hit his first homer of the spring off Griffin in the first inning, but the A’s countered with a two-run homer by Jed Lowrie, who is looking more and more like he will start somewhere in manager Bob Melvin’s infield on opening day.

Crawford connected off Oakland right-hander A.J. Griffin in the third inning, but the floodgates opened on Beckett in the bottom half.

Oakland scored five times on four hits, including a two-run homer by catcher Derek Norris, his fifth of the spring. Norris is expected to split time with John Jaso this season.

Griffin, who rose from Double-A Midland to win seven games in 15 starts last season for the A’s, said he is making progress after giving up four runs on five hits, walking one and striking out eight in 4 2-3 innings.

Someone pointed out that Crawford’s homer might have stayed in the park had it not been for the dry, desert air.

“You can’t really use that as an excuse,” Griffin said. “There are going to be other places we play where the ball carries.”

He said the pitch to Crawford “was a poorly executed curveball. I should have ‘dirted’ it ... what it all comes down to at the end of the day is that you have to keep the ball down.”

NOTES: The A’s optioned middle INF Jemile Weeks and OF Shane Peterson to Triple-A Sacramento after the game. The move eases a logjam in the middle a bit. Weeks never was quite able to return to form after bruising his right shoulder early in camp. ... Oakland closer Grant Balfour made his second appearance of the spring, pitching another scoreless inning with a strikeout. ... A’s pitchers have walked 72 batters, putting them among the major league leaders for fewest free passes. ... The Dodgers released RHP Mark Lowe before the game and now have 38 players remaining in big league camp. ... LA rookie OF Yasiel Puig, among the major league leaders in a handful of offensive categories, had his hitting streak end at seven games with a 0-for-2 outing, dropping his average to .527.

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