PEREZ, AT HIS BEST, PROVIDES A BOOST DODGERS WIN SECOND IN A ROW; TRAIL PHILLY BY 5 1/2 DODGERS 2, CINCINNATI 1.
Odalis Perez was at it again.
He's in the business of flirting with no-hitters, as if it's part of his normal routine of blaring Latin music throughout the clubhouse. For the second consecutive outing, he went at least five innings without allowing a hit.
Perez lost the no-hitter after 5 2/3 innings when pinch-hitter Juan Castro singled to left but once again gave his team an opportunity to win.
The Dodgers beat Cincinnati 2-1 in front of 31,828 Wednesday at Dodger Stadium. It was their third consecutive victory and pulled them within 5 1/2 games of Philadelphia in the wild-card race.
Jeromy Burnitz hit a solo home run to right field in the second inning to give L.A. a 1-0 lead that held through the seventh. His fourth home run with the Dodgers (22nd this season) undoubtedly gave him a boost a day after he stepped on his own glove in left field while trying to catch a ball.
Sean Casey doubled to right to drive in Barry Larkin in the seventh to tie it 1-1. Perez retired the next three batters and the Dodgers quickly answered.
Robin Ventura, who had two hits and was walked twice, doubled to right and Adrian Beltre scored Ventura with a single to right-center field. Center fielder Wily Mo Pena made a nice throw home that got to catcher Jason La Rue just as Ventura was sliding home.
Ventura didn't touch the plate with his left foot but he got the plate with his left hand before LaRue could tag him and the Dodgers led 2-1.
The Dodgers bullpen continued to impress. After Paul Shuey allowed a walk and single in the eighth, Tom Martin relieved him and struck out pinch hitter Reggie Taylor. With runners on first and third and one out, Paul Quantrill came in and got D'Angelo Jimenez to ground into a double play to end the inning.
Perez scattered three hits over seven innings and allowed one earned run.
Eric Gagne, who pitched a perfect ninth, earned his 37th save in 37 tries and his 45th in a row dating back to last season.
The Dodgers did enough offensively to win. They didn't score five runs, as they did Tuesday, but they had eight hits and two runs. And it was just enough.
Cincinnati pitcher Jose Acevedo had a short-lived outing but it wasn't because the Dodgers got to him. It was the dugout stairs. Acevedo, who gave up four hits and one earned run on four hits, sprained his left ankle walking down the stairs and his night was done. X-rays were inconclusive and he'll return to Cincinnati today.
The Dodgers will try to complete a sweep of the Reds today before the Chicago Cubs come to town for a three-game series this weekend.
Hideo Nomo, who has the most wins on the team with 12, starts today against another Reds pitcher, Paul Wilson, with an ERA over 5.00.
Veteran shortstop Barry Larkin was booed by Dodgers fans after he let go of two bats during one at-bat in the fourth. One flew into the stands and clipped a fan, who wasn't hurt. Larkin gave him a bat. But when it happened a second time, Dodgers fans weren't so forgiving.
Larkin left the game in the seventh after he hit a leadoff double with irritation to scar tissue that surrounds mesh that was surgically implanted to repair a hernia.
Jill Painter, (818) 713-3615
The Dodgers' Alex Cora beats the throw to the plate to score the winning run in the seventh inning against Cincinnati on Friday. Jason LaRue is catching.
John McCoy/Staff Photographers
DODGERS vs. CINCINNATI
- Jill Painter