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Giants 3, Dodgers 2(10)

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP)

Russell Martin's replacement as Los Angeles catcher is a little-known guy named A.J. Ellis, an 18th-round draft pick out of Austin Peay.

The defending NL West champion Dodgers are depending on him behind the plate - big time.

Ellis worked six innings in Los Angeles' 3-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Monday in his first start since Martin was sidelined by a pulled groin that likely will keep him out through opening day.

``He has a real good feel for the pitching,'' manager Joe Torre said. ``Mechanically, I don't want to say he's got few flaws because he's certainly inexperienced, but he's got all the ability to be a good catcher - good target, good feet, strong arm, work ethic is really good.

``It's one of those guys who's not necessarily the most gifted guy you've ever met, but his hands are soft. Pitchers seem to like to pitch to him.''

Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw each had good things to say after pitching two solid innings apiece in their exhibition debuts. Matt Kemp hit his first homer of the spring for the Dodgers, who lost when Ryan Rohlinger hit a two-out RBI single in the 10th.

``My job is really to get these pitchers ready,'' Ellis said. ``That's what spring training is about, and that the staff is ready for opening day and throughout the season.''

The Dodgers' pitchers aren't totally unfamiliar with their new backstop.

Billingsley threw to him in Class-A ball and even once in the majors last season, and Kershaw at Double-A and also in 2009.

``A.J. did a good job of calling those two innings,'' Kershaw said of Monday's outing. ``I got every pitch in there at least two times. He's great back there. He takes a lot of pride in his defense and his calling a game. He does all that stuff real well. Everything defensively he's great at.''

The 28-year-old Ellis, with 13 career major league at-bats and 12 total games over the past two years, seems more advanced than he is because of his poise. He has 37 2-3 career innings, 27 2-3 of those coming last season when he made two starts and seven overall appearances as catcher.

This is a big jump for an inexperienced backstop.

``I feel bad for Russ. I know how hard he worked coming into season,'' Ellis said. ``And I know he'll come back quickly, so I have to make sure the pitchers are ready for him when he comes back. One of the nice things about our pitching staff is that it's a lot of the same guys from last year - guys I got to work with and guys that I came up with in the minor leagues, Clayton and Chad. These are guys I'm comfortable with and enjoy calling the game for and I think they trust me back there.''

Giants starter Barry Zito had better control in his second spring outing, allowing three hits in three innings - including Kemp's first-inning solo shot.

``It's definitely good to see their guys, see their main lineup,'' Zito said.

The Dodgers sent out their usual lineup. Slugger Manny Ramirez was 0 for 2 and got hit by a pitch.

Los Angeles third baseman Casey Blake departed after the second inning as a precaution because of a sore right side muscle he tweaked on a sacrifice bunt by the Giants.

NOTES: Dodgers RHP Cory Wade, trying to make the team as a reliever, will be out for about two weeks after receiving a cortisone shot in his shoulder a few days ago, Torre said. ... Giants LF Mark DeRosa could make his spring debut as soon as Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox, but might wait until Wednesday. ... The teams agreed to use a DH - with Ramirez taking advantage of it. ... Giants RF Nate Schierholtz sat out after fouling a ball off his knee during a simulated game Sunday. ``He's pretty banged up,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. ... Boxing icon Muhammad Ali is scheduled to visit the Giants' clubhouse Tuesday morning. ... RF Roger Kieschnick saved a run for the Giants in the 10th with a perfect throw home on Angel Berroa's single.

Tagged: Dodgers, Giants, Angels, Matt Kemp, Manny Ramirez, Barry Zito, Russell Martin, Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw

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