Nothing riles baseball's most faithful fans like a shaky closer.

That teeth-grinding sensation of watching a lead evaporate in the ninth inning is the worst, especially when you feel it coming from a known, offending game-blower.

Winning to losing in the blink of a misplaced pitch, or 20.

Ugh.

There was a lot that went wrong for the Dodgers last year, but no one player absorbed more blame and abuse from the home crowd than Jonathan Broxton, the once intimidating closer who lost his job in mid-summer after a puzzling plunge into mediocrity.

The seven blown saves (in 29 chances) and the 4.04 earned run average seemed to grow even homelier over the winter when new manager Don Mattingly announced that Broxton was going to get a do-over when spring training opened.

It was the 26-year-old right-hander's job to lose. Again.

Four games into the season, and we know this: He's still got the job. Sunday night he saved his third game in three tries, as the Dodgers took the opening series from the defending champions, three games to one.

If Broxton's three innings of work haven't been perfect -- in fact, the words "nervous time" come to mind -- well, the Dodgers aren't going to waste time worrying about the niceties.

This is baseball, where you try to hit a round ball with a round bat as squarely as you can, and funny things happen. You're grateful when you win, and it's best if you don't stare at it too closely.