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Dodgers Have a Blast Against the Astros

L.A. scores five in the first inning, Kent hits milestone home run and Jackson goes 51/3 innings in an 8-3 victory.

August 28, 2005|Paul Gutierrez | Times Staff Writer

Turns out Milton Bradley and Jeff Kent were both wrong ... sort of.

Kent does more than just sit in the corner of the clubhouse, flipping through motocross magazines while ignoring his teammates and playing for statistics, as Bradley has suggested.

And Kent is more than just a veteran baseball player who plays for the simple love of the game, as he has claimed. He also knows Hollywood types and hits meaningful home runs.

Kent, who was hanging with "Desperate Housewives" star James Denton during batting practice Saturday, hit his major league-record 300th home run as a second baseman, helping the Dodgers and rookie starter Edwin Jackson to an 8-3 victory over the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium.

Kent predictably downplayed the significance of his milestone.

"It doesn't really," mean much, said Kent, who has a team-leading 23 home runs this season, 325 overall in his career. "Because I really don't keep track of who does what, so I don't really have anything to compare it to.

"My job's done here as soon as I finish talking with [the media]. I don't go home and add it up. When my career's done, I'll add it up."

After putting away the calculator, he'll probably have to pull out a thesaurus to better help him prepare a Hall of Fame induction speech.

But in the interim, the Dodgers (58-71) rode a five-run first inning and pulled within 5 1/2 games of the San Diego Padres in the National League West and remained in a virtual second-place tie with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Astros (68-61) are 1 1/2 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies for the NL wild card.

Jackson (1-1), who was recalled from double-A Jacksonville on Monday and was making his second start in place of the injured Odalis Perez, went 5 1/3 innings and gave up three runs and six hits. The right-hander struck out six and walked two.

"He had dramatic improvement in the command of his fastball," Manager Jim Tracy said.

Jackson gave glimpses of the form he showed in his major league debut on his 20th birthday on Sept. 9, 2003, when be beat Randy Johnson and the Diamondbacks. But Jackson has been erratic, at best, since and began this season at triple-A Las Vegas before being demoted.

"When I first came up, I threw," Jackson said. "Tonight, for me, I pitched."

It also helped that he was staked to the 5-0 lead after the first inning.

The Dodgers jumped all over Houston starter Roy Oswalt (15-11) by sending 11 batters to the plate, the first seven reached first, and it started with leadoff hitter Antonio Perez, who tripled down the right-field line.

Oscar Robles followed with a single and the hit parade was on.

Kent singled to right, Jason Phillips doubled to left, Jayson Werth and Jose Cruz Jr. drew walks and Dioner Navarro singled to right.

"I played behind Roy for two years and that's the best chance you have to get the kid, because he's so good -- get him before he gets warmed up," Kent said.

Even Jackson got in on the action, drawing a bases-loaded walk.

"The five-run lead makes you more aggressive," Jackson said. "You want to try to bear down and keep the lead where it's at."

By the time the Dodgers chased Oswalt, who surrendered seven runs and nine hits in four-plus innings, "the game was out of hand," Kent said.

That's why he didn't celebrate his homer all that much. After the game, the ball sat in a protective cup in his locker.

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