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Back on Sea Level, Dodgers a Mile High

Baseball: Hollandsworth gets five hits in a 10-2 victory that brings a first-place tie with San Diego.


SAN DIEGO — The Dodgers strolled into San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium on Monday night, wondering just what was going on.

There were lines at the ticket windows. Dozens of reporters roaming the clubhouse.

This might have been merely another three-game series in July, but the way the folks were acting, this was the biggest thing since the fish taco.

So, what do the Dodgers do?

They go out and treat the place like Coors Field, routing the Padres, 10-2, with a 17-hit attack that included three home runs.

The Dodgers have hit 15 homers and scored 38 runs in their last three games, the most by any team in Los Angeles history.

Rookie outfielder Todd Hollandsworth provided the bulk of the damage with a career-high five hits, including three singles, a triple and a two-run homer. He is batting .500 [16 for 32] with two homers and 10 runs batted in over his last eight games.

"People talk about our character," said Hollandsworth, "but I think we got character in this clubhouse. You look around, we want to win. Maybe we haven't produced like we're capable of, but I don't see quitters in here.

"I see a lot of pride.

"We've gone through a lot of adversity this first half, but here we are, right back at Point A."

Indeed, after three months and 83 games, the Dodgers and Padres are back in a two-way tie for first place, knotted with 43-40 records.

This night, just as vital as the offense was the performance of Dodger starter Tom Candiotti.

The Dodgers, whose battered pitching staff yielded a franchise record 53 runs and 69 hits the last four games in Denver, desperately needed a strong performance by Candiotti. They wanted to do everything possible to stay away from the bullpen, where every reliever except Joey Eischen had pitched at least three times in the last four days.

"I asked him, 'What's the most pitches you've ever thrown in a game?' " Dodger interim Manager Bill Russell said. "He said, 'something like 174, but that was 10 years ago when my arm was young.'

"I told him, 'Well, you're our starter and reliever tonight.' "

Candiotti, realizing this was going to be his game to win or lose, responded with a masterful performance. He yielded 11 hits and four walks, but every time the Padres threatened, he shut them down. He yielded only two earned runs in 7 2/3 innings, throwing a season-high 129 pitches. Reliever Mark Guthrie closed out the game.

"You don't have to be a brain surgeon to realize the bullpen was overworked," Candiotti (6-7) said. "I told [pitching coach] Dave Wallace this was going to have to be an American League game. I was going to have to be out there no matter what."

Chad Fonville, who is back in the starting lineup, set the stage at the outset. He reached first on an infield single off the glove of second baseman Luis Lopez. Delino DeShields followed with a single to center, and when center fielder Steve Finley juggled the ball, Fonville raced to third and DeShields went to second.

Catcher Mike Piazza singled to center field for a 2-0 lead. Piazza, first baseman Eric Karros and Hollandsworth homered in the fifth inning, putting the game away.

"[The series is] fun because of this rivalry, particularly with them toward us," Karros said. "I grew up here, and all you heard was, 'Beat the Dodgers. Beat the Dodgers.'

"You look, and historically, our rivalry is with the Giants. Probably in the last three of four years, it's been more intense with the Rockies. And geographically, it's with the Padres."

Certainly, the Padres realize the importance of the series. They want to prove to the Dodgers that they belong.

"We want to win because it'd be good to send a message," said Padre outfielder Chris Gwynn, a former Dodger. "They know we can win. And we think we're good enough to win.

"But we've got to prove that."

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