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Dodgers Put Wash Out to Dry

Four home runs against Angel ace are good enough for a 5-2 victory. Gagne gets another save and L.A. is tied for first in the West again.

June 21, 2003|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

Here's a statistic that puts the Dodgers' 2003 power shortage in some perspective: Before Friday's games, Cincinnati outfielder Adam Dunn and Florida third baseman Mike Lowell had combined for three more homers (44) than the entire Dodger team (41).

No team, not even the pitiful Detroit Tigers, Tampa Bay Devil Rays or San Diego Padres, has hit fewer homers than the Dodgers this season, which made Friday night's home run derby against the Angels all the more stunning.

Ron Coomer, David Ross, Shawn Green and Brian Jordan hit solo home runs off Angel left-hander Jarrod Washburn, giving the Dodgers as many homers in one night as they had in the previous 11 games combined, and the Dodgers held on for a 5-2 interleague victory before a sellout crowd of 54,573 in Dodger Stadium.

The Angels threatened in the eighth, putting two on with one out, but Dodger second baseman Alex Cora, who entered in the eighth as a defensive replacement for Jolbert Cabrera, made a diving stop of Brad Fullmer's hot grounder to the hole and threw to first for the out, and Green made a running catch of Bengie Molina's drive to the gap in right-center to end the inning and preserve a 5-2 lead.

Closer Eric Gagne pitched a scoreless ninth for his major league-leading 28th save, as the Dodgers won for the ninth time in 10 games and moved into a first-place tie with San Francisco in the National League West.

Dodger right-hander Hideo Nomo (8-6) gave up two runs -- one earned -- on seven hits and struck out six in 7 1/3 innings. The Angels lost for the sixth time in eight games and remained 12 1/2 games behind Seattle in the American League West, but they fell seven games behind Oakland in the wild-card race.

"It looks like the whole team has had a little more energy the last few series," said Coomer, who hadn't homered in more than a year. "When you have guys in the lineup who are proven big league hitters, eventually they're going to hit. It's not gonna be a struggle all year long. Averages are going to come up. Guys are going to do what they're capable of doing."

The Dodgers hadn't hit more than two homers in a game all season, and the last time they went deep four or more times was last Sept. 2, when they hit five homers at Arizona.

"It was good to see us break out with a little power, that was long overdue," Jordan said. "Hopefully, they will come in bunches."

Nomo said the offense "made it easy" for him to pitch against the Angels. This was somewhat uncharted territory for Nomo; the Dodgers have scored a grand total of eight runs in Nomo's six losses.

Nomo gave up an unearned run in the first and Garret Anderson's solo homer in the fourth, but he blanked the Angels until departing in the eighth.

"He never ceases to amaze us anymore," Dodger Manager Jim Tracy said of Nomo. "He's very similar in competitiveness and personality to Kevin Brown. You know when you write his name on the lineup card, unless something goes completely awry, he's gonna be in there until the seventh inning."

With a left-hander starting for the Angels and the Dodgers in the midst of a nine-day, nine-game stretch, including day games today and Sunday, Tracy took an Exacto-knife to his lineup, cutting and pasting names up and down the order.

Cesar Izturis moved from the No. 8 spot to the leadoff spot, Green and Jordan, who normally hit third and fourth, switched spots, Coomer started at first, Cabrera at second and Ross behind the plate, pushing catcher Paul Lo Duca to left field.

Just about every move paid off. Coomer tied the game, 1-1, in the second when he blasted his first home run since May 26, 2002, when he was a New York Yankee playing in Fenway Park.

Anderson's homer in the fourth, his major league-leading 10th this month, gave the Angels a 2-1 lead, but Green countered in the bottom of the fourth, driving Washburn's first pitch over the wall in center for his eighth homer of the season and second this month.

Ross, who threw out David Eckstein trying to steal second base in the third, snapped the tie when he lined his third homer of the season just inside the left-field foul pole in the fifth, making it 3-2. Izturis doubled to left-center, just out of Anderson's reach, and scored on Lo Duca's single to left to make it 4-2.

Jordan then led off the sixth with a home run to center, his sixth of the season and the 18th given up by Washburn, to give the Dodgers a 5-2 lead.

"All we're trying to do is not walk hitters and go after them, and when you do that, [home runs] are going to happen," Molina said. "Jarrod missed a couple of spots, and that cost us the game."

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