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Dodgers' Astrodome Streak Ends : Baseball: Their 4-2 victory is first at Houston in 12 games. Hansen has two-run home run.


HOUSTON — It had been so long since the Dodgers had won a game at the Astrodome that few in the Dodger clubhouse could remember when it was.

"Since April 14, 1992?" said Manager Tom Lasorda after the Dodgers finally beat the Houston Astros, 4-2, Wednesday night. "That's my wife's birthday. She was 36 the last time we won."

Winning pitcher Tom Candiotti (7-5) didn't think it had been that long. "I won a game here last year, didn't I?" he asked.

Since Candiotti's victory in the Astrodome at the beginning of last season, the Dodgers had lost 11 consecutive games in Houston. And Wednesday, it looked as if they were going to lose another.

With Candiotti on the mound, few dared to expect the Dodger offense to explode, and it didn't. If not for Dave Hansen, Candiotti might have been the victim of another low-run, or in this case, no-run production by the Dodger offense.

With the Dodgers trailing, 1-0, in the seventh inning, Hansen turned on a 1-1 changeup from Astro starter Pete Harnisch (10-8) and sent it into the right-field seats for a two-run homer. It was the fourth time this season that Hansen has had the key hit in a game, and he has made only four starts, all at third base. Of his 48 at-bats, 35 have been as a pinch-hitter.

"I carry that mentality to the plate that I am coming off the bench and it helps me stay aggressive," Hansen said. "It helped against a pitcher like Harnisch, who was hitting his spots and has three or four good pitches."

Lasorda tried to shake up the lineup by benching Eric Davis and Eric Karros. He started prospects Raul Mondesi in left field (in place of Davis) and Henry Rodriguez at first base (in place of Karros). With Cory Snyder in right field, Hansen made his second consecutive start at third base.

"I thought we needed a change to shake it up, or change the tempo, or something," Lasorda said. "But I don't know what lineup I will use tomorrow. I'll need to sleep on it."

With the Dodger organization eager to see its farm products in the everyday lineup, it is clear the future looks dismal for Davis, whose contract expires this year.

But Davis, who was inserted as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning, said he can't worry about the future. Davis said he has even given some thought to leaving baseball after the season ends.

"I might retire, who knows?" he said. "It's just something I have thought about. That's not to say that I will, but I will sit back and evaluate it when the season is over."

Davis said he is mentally tired because of the struggles he has had with injuries.

"It's not my struggles on the field, it's just the struggling with my health," Davis said. "Something is always hurting. But after the season, I will workout and if I feel good, I'll play."

The last time the Dodgers were in Houston, sources close to the organization said that Davis, 31, was close to being released. Instead, Davis returned to Los Angeles and worked on his swing with former Dodger Reggie Smith. Since then, Davis' best month was July, when he batted .276. In 89 games overall, he is batting .233 with 10 home runs, 43 runs batted in and a team-high 26 stolen bases.

But Davis is only one of several players who have not provided the offensive power Lasorda had hoped for this season. And Wednesday's game provided another example of the Dodgers' offensive shortcomings.

Through six innings, the Dodgers managed two hits against Astro starter Pete Harnisch, who retired 19 of the first 22 batters he faced.

"We were on the bench in the seventh inning thinking let's just scratch out a run so we can get a no-decision for Candiotti and play the rest of the game out," said Jim Gott, who entered the game in the ninth inning and earned his 19th save.

The Dodgers scored two more runs in the ninth against Brian Williams, who relieved Harnisch after seven innings.

Candiotti gave up one unearned run and seven hits before leaving after seven innings. "It was a mentality exhausting game," he said. "It looked like (Harnisch) was going to sail, and we were going through the motions."

The Astros took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when Eric Anthony singled and moved to second on a passed ball by Mike Piazza. Ken Caminiti followed with a line drive to Snyder, but Rodriguez mistakenly cut off Snyder's throw to Piazza and Anthony scored.

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