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Dodgers' Win Isn't Routine

Diamondbacks botch two tailor-made double-play balls, fueling a four-run eighth inning that lifts L.A. to an 8-4 victory and a 6 1/2-game lead in West.

September 03, 2004|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

PHOENIX — The only double play the Arizona Diamondbacks could complete Thursday night during the foible-prone eighth inning of an 8-4 loss to the Dodgers was one for the blooper reel.

Shawn Green and Jayson Werth each hit into what could have been inning-ending double plays but reached base on a pair of Diamondback errors that helped the Dodgers break open a tight, well-pitched game in front of 33,224 at Bank One Ballpark.

Adrian Beltre hit his 43rd homer, tying Duke Snider and Gary Sheffield for second on the Dodgers' all-time single-season list, and Milton Bradley drove in Cesar Izturis with the go-ahead run with a double into the left-field corner in the eighth before things fully unraveled for the Diamondbacks.

After Arizona reliever Shane Nance intentionally walked Beltre to put runners on first and second with one out, Green hit a grounder to second baseman Scott Hairston. But Hairston's nonchalant flip to Jerry Gil sailed over the shortstop's head and into left field, allowing Bradley to score and give the Dodgers a 5-3 lead.

Diamondback reliever Lance Cormier induced a routine grounder from Werth that Gil booted, allowing Beltre to score from third. Jose Hernandez capped the inning with a run-scoring double to right-center as the Dodgers surged ahead, 7-3.

"They gave us a couple of runs tonight," said Dodger Manager Jim Tracy, whose team increased its lead over the San Francisco Giants to 6 1/2 games in the National League West.

Yhency Brazoban (1-0), who yielded a meaningless solo homer to Hairston in the eighth, pitched two solid innings of relief to record his first major league victory and solidify his bid to become the Dodgers' primary setup man.

"We're beginning to see more and more of Yhency Brazoban, and there's a lot of him to like," Tracy said. "The ceiling is very high for this guy."

The 24-year-old, who has a 1.06 earned-run average in 14 appearances, said he was surprised and delighted to be thrust into such an important role.

"Normally, it's a situation for a rookie you wouldn't get," Brazoban said through an interpreter.

Does he get nervous? "Never."

The Dodgers still needed Eric Gagne in the ninth after Scott Stewart started the inning and put two on with one out. Gagne retired the next two batters to record his 37th save in 39 attempts.

Beltre's homer in the second, a solo shot to right-center, kept him tied for the major league lead with St. Louis' Albert Pujols, who also homered Thursday, heading into a three-game series between the Dodgers and Cardinals that starts tonight at Busch Stadium.

Beltre is five homers shy of tying Mike Schmidt's major league record for homers by a third baseman and six shy of tying Green's record for homers by a Dodger.

"I'm not thinking about that," Beltre said of Schmidt's record. "Getting my teammates to the playoffs is my main focus."

Dodger starter Odalis Perez had to leave after the fifth because of stiffness in the back of his left shoulder. Perez initially was listed as day to day, but a further setback could cripple a rotation already missing Wilson Alvarez and Edwin Jackson because of injuries.

Perez allowed five hits and three runs while recording his major league-high 16th no-decision, which set a Los Angeles Dodger record.

Hernandez had given the Dodgers their first lead of a back-and-forth game in the fifth on his 11th homer, a solo shot to right off starter Casey Fossum that made it 3-2. Arizona's Chris Snyder tied it in the bottom of the fifth with a homer to left.

Izturis walked before Bradley's go-ahead double in the eighth.

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SERIES WINNERS

Part of the Dodgers' success this season can be attributed to their ability to consistently win series from their opponents, including taking the rubber game Thursday of a three-game set with Arizona. The Dodgers' series record:

* Won: 28 (including seven sweeps)

* Split: 3

* Lost: 12 (including three sweeps)

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