PITTSBURGH — Adrian Beltre and Alex Cora are eager to help their more experienced teammates.
The young players delivered again Tuesday night in a 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that helped Dodgers split a doubleheader at Three Rivers Stadium after Carlos Perez struggled again in a 6-0 loss in the opener.
Beltre hit his 10th homer--a two-run blast--and tied the score, 3-3, in the eighth with a run-scoring double. He has a team-high 14 runs batted in on the trip.
Cora followed Beltre's double with a two-run triple to cap the Dodgers' rally before a crowd of 21,028. He laced a change-up from reliever Mike Williams down the right-field line, driving in Todd Hundley and Beltre.
After Ismael Valdes left after four innings with the score tied, 2-2, the Dodgers (56-50) salvaged a split against the Pirates (46-59) and improved to 5-4 on the trip with the final game today.
Beltre and Cora provided another big boost for the Dodgers after having career games last Thursday in a 16-11 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Deflated after Perez was hit hard in the opener, the Dodgers were uplifted by the kids. Again.
"Bell and Cora really picked us up," first baseman Eric Karros said. "We haven't been producing as team, we haven't done a thing.
"We had to win that second game or it would have been disastrous, and Bell had some big hits and Cora had one. That's what we need to get to where we need to be, and that's the second time they've done that on this trip."
Third baseman Beltre had four hits--including a grand slam--and a personal-best six RBIs against the Rockies. Shortstop Cora had the first multi-homer game of his career and five RBIs.
"We've got our opportunities too, and you want to get the big hit," Beltre said. "We knew that was our only chance to win the ballgame [in the eighth], and Alex got a big hit and I got a hit too."
Cora enjoys such situations now.
"I'm taking baby steps, I'm learning every day," said Cora, establishing himself this season. "That was one of those situations earlier in the year where I was an automatic out. But now I have a plan. I went up there and I was aggressive."
Rookie pitcher Matt Herges benefited from Beltre and Cora's latest timely performance.
Herges (8-0) pitched a scoreless seventh to become the first Dodger since Pedro Martinez to win eight consecutive decisions. Martinez accomplished the feat in 1993 from May 25 through Aug. 6.
Valdes pitched four innings in the first official start of his second Dodger tenure after Monday's game was postponed because of rain.
After a shaky start, Valdes impressed in his short outing. He gave up four hits--including two runs on John Vander Wal's 16th homer--with eight strikeouts and three walks.
The right-hander got into a groove after Vander Wal's blast in the first, but Manager Davey Johnson limited him because he briefly worked Monday.
"I was pleased with what I saw," said Johnson, who removed Valdes after he threw 75 pitches, including 49 strikes. "He showed me something going back to the mound."
Closer Jeff Shaw continued his impressive comeback. He pitched a perfect ninth for his 17th save and the 150th of his career.
Shaw has worked 8 2/3 scoreless innings with five saves since returning from the disabled list, providing another reason for the Dodgers to feel good. Perez is not among them.
The left-hander was pounded for the second time in as many starts. He gave up nine hits and five runs in four innings.
Perez (4-6) has not won since May 20, and his earned-run average increased from 5.48 to 5.67. He has been awful recently, and Johnson doesn't know why.
"You'll have to ask him," Johnson said. "I don't have too much to say about that at this point."
* GOOD DEALS
Chairman Daly is happy with the trades for Valdes and Goodwin, putting more pressure on the Dodger manager. Page 6
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
How the new Dodger acquisitions fared:
Late-inning replacement in first game; leadoff hitter in second, going 0 for 4 with a walk and three strikeouts.
Second-game starter went four innings, giving up four hits, two runs, three walks and striking out eight.