Sports briefs 3/21/05

Monday, March 21, 2005

Baseball

* The New York Mets plugged a hole in their starting rotation Sunday, acquiring left-hander Kazuhisa Ishii from the Los Angeles Dodgers for catcher Jason Phillips.

The Mets traded for Ishii to fill the void created when they lost Steve Trachsel to a back injury this spring. Trachsel, who made 33 starts for New York last season, had surgery Saturday to repair a herniated disc and will miss at least three to six months.

Ishii will step into the No. 5 spot in the rotation behind Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, Kris Benson and Victor Zambrano.

Ishii went 13-8 with a 4.71 ERA in 31 starts last season for Los Angeles. Often erratic, he walked 98 batters in 172 innings. He is 36-25 with a 4.30 ERA in three seasons with the Dodgers since coming over from Japan.

A backup to Mike Piazza with the Mets, Phillips could become the Dodgers' starting catcher. Los Angeles has been looking for an answer behind the plate because neither incumbent David Ross nor newcomer Paul Bako are known for providing much offense.

Due to injuries, Phillips got a chance to play regularly with the Mets in 2003 and was a pleasant surprise, hitting .298 with 11 home runs and 58 RBIs. But last season his numbers dropped to .218 with seven homers and 34 RBIs in 362 at-bats.

Motorsports

* Fernando Alonso won the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday to give Renault victories in the first two races of the Formula One season. Jarno Trulli was the runner-up for Toyota's first top-three finish.

Alonso's teammate Giancarlo Fisichella crashed out, taking Williams' Mark Webber with him, and seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher earned his first points of 2005 with a seventh-place finish for Ferrari.

Alonso, third at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix behind Fisichella and Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello two weeks ago, dominated from the pole position for his second GP title.

Tennis

* Roger Federer is all alone at the top -- by several notches.

The world's top-ranked player, looking virtually unstoppable these days, rolled to a straight-sets victory over Lleyton Hewitt on Sunday to successfully defend his Pacific Life Open title.

Federer broke the second-ranked Australian's serve in the opening game and was in control the rest of the way in a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 victory.

Federer is on a roll that has carried him to 42 wins in his last 43 matches, and seven victories in eight tournaments. He has another streak going in finals, where he's won 17 in a row.

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