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Sunday, September 8
Updated: September 9, 3:55 PM ET
Ishii conscious as he's taken away by ambulance

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers rookie left-hander Kazuhisa Ishii left the game Sunday in an ambulance with a small skull fracture and a concussion after getting struck flush on the forehead by a line drive off the bat of Houston's Brian Hunter.

Los Angeles pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii holds his head with what turned out to be a small skull fracture after being hit by a line drive by Brian Hunter.

In the fourth inning of the Astros' 6-2 victory, Hunter drove a 3-2 pitch so hard off the left side of Ishii's head that it ricocheted all the way to the backstop behind home plate for a run-scoring double.

''I saw every part of it. As soon as I hit the ball, my natural reaction was to say, 'Heads up!' '' Hunter said. ''You never want to see anybody get hurt -- whether it's your team or the other team.

''Being a line drive-type hitter, you're trying to stay up the middle more. But I would rather hit into a line-drive double play than to have something like that happen.''

Manager Jim Tracy, assistant trainer Matt Wilson and paramedics rushed to the pitcher's aid. Ishii, who turns 29 Monday, was placed in a neck brace, then on a stretcher and driven off through the center-field gate.

''When I got to the mound, the first thing I saw was blood -- which scared me to death,'' Tracy said. ''But basically, it was a surface cut just above his forehead.

''They termed it a Grade 2 concussion. I knew he could hear voices by the way he was responding. He told the guys at the hospital that he never saw the ball.''

Dodgers spokesman John Olguin reported that Ishii had feeling and movement in all of his limbs and was fully conscious when he was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital for X-rays and further tests. He will remain hospitalized for at least 24 hours for observation by a neurologist.

''It's scary. It's not something I particularly wanted to see,'' Astros closer Billy Wagner said. ''I know what it's like to have something like that happen to me. Every time you go back out there, you think about that situation with every pitch you throw.

The incident gave Wagner flashbacks to July 15, 1998 at Arizona, when he was struck on the left side of the head behind the ear by a line drive from Kelly Stinnett. The impact left him with a concussion and vertigo.

Right before Hunter came to the plate, Ishii was booed by the Dodger Stadium crowd of 42,934 after issuing consecutive one-out walks to Jason Lane and pitcher Roy Oswalt with the Astros leading 2-0 on home runs by Craig Biggio and Hunter.

''What makes you really mad is that he's out there battling and the fans are booing him because things aren't going his way -- and then that happens to him,'' Wagner said.

It was the second frightening scene in two weeks at Dodger Stadium. On Aug. 26, Alex Cora left in an ambulance with a concussion after colliding headfirst with Arizona shortstop Tony Womack's knee while trying to steal second base. Cora missed two games.

''Bad things came to my head today,'' Cora said. ''I just started praying and doing the same things my teammates did for me two weeks ago. Seeing it from this side, I know it's hard to see the brace and the stretcher and the ambulance.

''But I know he's going to be fine. In both situations, you've got to tip your hats to the medical staff.''

Ishii has a 14-10 record -- the most victories on the Dodgers staff -- and a 4.27 ERA. Kevin Beirne replaced Ishii on the mound after a 14-minute delay.

''The prayers from our team definitely go out to Ishii and his family and to the Los Angeles Dodgers organization,'' Hunter said. ''I hope he has a speedy recovery so he can come back and help the team.''

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