Dodgers 4, Marlins 1

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—For the second night in a row, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting pitcher was able to hand the ball to closer Eric Gagne. No middle relief was needed.

Odalis Perez allowed three hits over eight innings and struck out eight as the Dodgers beat the Florida Marlins 4-1 Saturday night. Perez threw 120 pitches, matching Darren Dreifort’s total in Friday’s win.

“That’s a luxury that I have not been afforded over the past couple of years—when you have starters pitching us deep into the games and you have a chance to keep your bullpen as fresh as you possibly can,” Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said.

“It may seem trivial on the 17th of May, but it won’t be so trivial come the first of August. I’ve had firsthand experience of that for two years.”

Paul Lo Duca went 4-for-4 with a tiebreaking solo homer for the Dodgers, who have won three straight and seven of 10. Jolbert Cabrera also homered for Los Angeles, and Gagne pitched a perfect ninth for his 14th save of the season and 22nd straight.

Perez (2-3) won consecutive starts for the first time this year. He walked two and did not give up a hit after Alex Gonzalez doubled with one out in the second. The only run against him came on Luis Castillo’s first-inning homer.

“Our team is struggling enough to get some runs, and it’s tough to piece together two, three, four hits in a row off a guy who’d got his good stuff,” the Marlins’ Brian Banks said. “He threw a lot of offspeed pitches. He had good arm action on his changeup and good bite on it.”

Perez displayed the form that earned him his first All-Star selection last season.

“He’s becoming a complete pitcher,” Tracy said. “I mean, I’ve seen Odalis much sharper early in the count, but tonight he pitched to the deficiencies of the opposition extremely well.”

Perez faced the Marlins for the first time since July 22, 1999, with Atlanta, when he tore a ligament in his left elbow and was forced him to have reconstructive surgery.

“I don’t even remember my last start against them,” Perez said. “But whatever happened to my arm in the past, it’s in the past. I don’t want to worry about it.

“I’m going to keep working hard and keep my arm in shape and be ready to pitch every time they give me the ball. I’m going deep into the games when I go out there, which is good, because I’m going to get a lot of innings and I’m helping my team win.”

Michael Tejera (0-2), who left his previous start May 10 after three innings because of a strained right Achilles’ tendon and a bruised lower back, allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings.

Lo Duca, stunned for several minutes after getting hit in the head by the backswing of Mike Lowell’s bat in the first inning, homered in the fifth, his first since April 29. Cabrera’s homer into the left-field pavilion made it 3-1 in the sixth.

Juan Encarnacion followed Castillo’s homer with a single, then stole second and third with Lowell at the plate. On the second steal, Lowell’s bat conked Lo Duca on the left side of the head as Lowell struck out. But Perez stranded Encarnacion by striking out Derrek Lee.

“It just dazed me a little bit, but I was all right after that,” Lo Duca said.

The Dodgers tied it in the bottom of the inning on Brian Jordan’s RBI single. Fred McGriff led off the eighth with a single and scored on a groundout by Cabrera.


After the game, the Dodgers optioned INF Larry Barnes to Triple-A Las Vegas and recalled OF Jason Romano from their Pacific Coast League team. … Lo Duca had at least four hits for the third time in his career. … Dodgers CF Dave Roberts was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right hamstring and RHP Paul Shuey was activated. … Lee has struck out 40 times in 44 games. He fanned 164 times in 162 games last season, third-most in the NL behind Jose Hernandez (188) and Adam Dunn (170). … The Marlins have lost all four games Tejera has started. He is 0-6 with a 6.12 ERA in nine career starts on theroad.

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