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A Chance Beating for L.A.

Diamondbacks win, 3-2. Schilling is tough for seven innings, Tracy is ejected and Dodgers miss opportunity to gain in the wild-card race.

September 17, 2003|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

The Dodgers lost another day and a chance to move closer to the top of the National League wild-card race Tuesday night as the Arizona Diamondbacks held on for a 3-2 victory at Dodger Stadium.

The Diamondbacks ended the Dodgers' winning streak at three games and prevented them from gaining ground on Florida, staking Curt Schilling to a 3-0 lead into the seventh and withstanding late rallies before 31,689.

Manager Jim Tracy was ejected for arguing a call at first in the seventh as the Dodgers cut the Diamondbacks' lead to 3-1 on Dave Roberts' two-out single. Jeromy Burnitz connected on a 423-foot leadoff blast in the ninth against Arizona closer Matt Mantei, stirring hope throughout a ballpark that hasn't played host to a playoff game since 1996.

Mantei, though, quickly regained form, retiring the next three batters. Pinch-hitter Ron Coomer struck out swinging to complete Arizona's third consecutive victory, which also completed Mantei's 24th save and the victory for Schilling (8-8).

The Dodgers (80-69) remained 2 1/2 games behind Florida, which was routed, 14-0, by Philadelphia. The Diamondbacks (78-73) also maintained their faint wild-card hopes, getting to within 5 1/2 games of Florida.

Philadelphia is only a half-game behind Florida as the NL East members battle for the league's final playoff invitation.

The Dodgers are eager to be invited as well, but time is running out.

Schilling gave up eight hits and one run in seven strong innings to improve to 14-6 in 32 career appearances against the Dodgers. The right-hander escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning, getting Paul Lo Duca to foul out, while outdueling Kazuhisa Ishii (9-6), who was removed for a pinch-hitter in the fifth with Schilling seemingly on the ropes.

"It was vintage Curt Schilling tonight," Arizona Manager Bob Brenly said. "He seemed to get ahead of every batter tonight."

The Diamondbacks made the most of only seven hits. They got a run-scoring double from Junior Spivey in the third, an RBI grounder from Shea Hillenbrand in the fourth and Spivey contributed another run-scoring double to cap their scoring in the seventh.

Rookie left-hander Chris Capuano worked a perfect eighth in relief of Schilling. After Alex Cora flied out in the ninth, bench coach Jim Riggleman, managing the team for Tracy, sent right-handed pinch-hitters Jolbert Cabrera and Coomer to face the right-handed Mantei because the Dodgers didn't have any left-handed hitters left.

In the seventh, Cora led off with a double and advanced to third on Cesar Izturis' groundout on a bunt, prompting Tracy's argument with first-base umpire Mark Carlson.

Tracy believed Izturis beat the one-hop throw from Schilling to first baseman Hillenbrand, though TV replays appeared to indicate Izturis was out on a close play. Before returning to the clubhouse, Tracy picked up the first-base bag and moved it a couple of feet up the line.

Once play resumed, pinch-hitter Todd Hundley struck out, Roberts singled to left to drive in Cora, and Lo Duca popped up in the infield.

Trailing, 2-0, in the fifth, the Dodgers got one-out singles from Cora and Izturis, the Nos. 7 and 8 batters. Tracy tried to seize the moment, yanking Ishii after only five innings for Robin Ventura.

The left-handed batter had four hits -- including two home runs -- in 12 at-bats against Schilling. No. 13, however, worked out poorly for the Dodgers as Ventura struck out.

Schilling walked Roberts on a full count, but Lo Duca fouled out to first.

"Schilling pitched a very good game," said Tracy, who has been ejected six times this season and 10 times in his career. "The bottom of the fifth with two out was our big opportunity."

Said Shawn Green: "Every game is important. We would like to win every game, but it's pretty tough, especially with a guy like Schilling."

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