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CLOSE GAME MUFFLES BOOS

Fans greeted baseball's return with boos before the game, cheers later.

The Los Angeles Dodgers withstood Florida's ninth-inning rally Tuesday night to beat the Marlins 8-7 in a game that ended baseball's record 257-day layoff.Raul Mondesi had two homers, a double and four RBI for the Dodgers. They led 8-2, but Florida scored one run in the eighth and four in the ninth before rookie Charles Johnson struck out with two on to end it.

"That was an exciting game," Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda said. "The fans loved it, and it scared me."

While locked-out umpires picketed outside the stadium, replacement umps worked without any arguments but drew criticism from the players.

Although there were a few thousand empty seats on opening night, the crowd of 42,125 was announced as a sellout. Fans vented their bitterness toward baseball's labor problems when the teams were introduced before the game.

With both clubs lined up along the base paths, the public address announcer explained that in a gesture of gratitude for fan support, the players would tip their caps.

"We looked at each other and said, `No, no, wrong move,"' Marlins third baseman Terry Pendleton said.

"Thanks to the loyal, patient and knowledgeable baseball fans of South Florida," the announcer said.

The hats came off. The crowd booed.

"Obviously the fans are bitter, or I should say frustrated, about not going to a game for the last eight months," Dodgers first baseman Eric Karros said. "We have to go out of our way to get them back."

Exciting games such as Tuesday's should help. Florida rallied in the ninth with three walks and three singles, including Pendleton's two-run hit. Only a few thousand fans remained, but they made plenty of noise.

Rudy Seanez, the third pitcher of the inning, then struck out Johnson looking with two out and runners at first and second.

The game kicked off a season shortened from 162 games to 144 by the strike. The Dodgers scored as easily as the 49ers, rapping 13 hits, including five doubles, one triple and Mondesi's homers. Mondesi, 1994 rookie of the year, hit a two-run homer to straightaway center field in the first inning. His two-run homer in the seventh traveled even farther. "If it didn't hit the seats, it might have gone 500 feet," Lasorda said.