Dodgers 2, Diamondbacks 0
LOS ANGELES (AP)—One more close call for Odalis Perez.
The Los Angeles left-hander held Arizona hitless through seven innings and combined with Eric Gagne on a four-hitter Saturday as the Dodgers snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over the Diamondbacks.
Shea Hillenbrand blooped a single to right field leading off the eighth, making it four times in two seasons Perez has flirted with a no-hitter and fallen short.
“I wanted it bad,” he said. “But there will come a day when that’s going to happen. If I go out there in the future and have another no-hitter go to the eighth inning, I don’t think I’m going to lose it again.”
He sure is familiar with the feeling.
Perez threw a pair of one-hitters last year—giving up a seventh-inning infield single at Chicago on April 26 and a leadoff single in the sixth against Colorado on June 25. He also took a perfect game into the seventh against the Mets on Aug. 17.
Hillenbrand spoiled this one, going the other way with an 0-1 pitch— Perez’s 94th of the game—and dropping it into short right field.
“There’s a little more pressure in those situations because you know what’s on the line,” Hillenbrand said. “But every hitter thrives off that.”
Perez (5-7) was criticized by his teammates after complaining about the Dodgers’ lack of offense following his previous start in Anaheim, so he wasn’t about to get on right fielder Shawn Green for not diving for Hillenbrand’s hit.
The ball was way out of Green’s reach, anyway.
“It was nice to step up for the team,” Perez said. “Some guys were mad at me because of what I said, but my responsibility was to go out there and win a game. So it doesn’t matter if they were mad at me or not. I still have to give the best effort I can to keep the team in the game. We are brothers, and this is a team.”
The crowd of 38,957 booed Green when he came to the plate in the bottom of the eighth.
“I dive all the time, so if I had any chance I would have dove for it— especially with a no-hitter on the line,” Green said. “But it was too far away. I was going full-speed, but I’m not going to dive and miss the ball by 8-10 feet and have the guy go to second base—regardless of how people are going to react. That’s false hustle. I’m not going to put on a show. That’s ridiculous.”
After Hillenbrand’s single, Perez (5-7) retired rookie Robby Hammock on a double-play grounder before Quinton McCracken and Chad Moeller followed with singles. But they were stranded when pinch-hitter Carlos Baerga grounded into a force play.
Perez, who came to the Dodgers with left fielder Brian Jordan from Atlanta in a January 2002 trade for Gary Sheffield, struck out five and walked none in eight innings. He was 0-5 in his previous seven starts since winning May 23 at Milwaukee.
Gagne got three outs for his 38th consecutive save and 30th this season, allowing a two-out single to Alex Cintron in the ninth.
The Dodgers opened the fourth inning with a pair of unearned runs against Elmer Dessens (5-5), who was 2-0 in eight starts since his previous defeat May 20 against San Francisco.
Lo Duca temporarily preserved Perez’s no-hit bid in the seventh by robbing Luis Gonzalez of a potential double down the first-base line with a diving stop. Two batters earlier, Lo Duca had to leap in the air to handle a bad-hop smash by Steve Finley, whose hitting streak ended at 15 games.
“With a guy like Perez, you try to get him early before he settles in. But he settled in right from the get-go and kept us off-balance all day,” Finley said. “We’re an aggressive swinging team, and it turned out to be a bonus for him today.”
Dessens was charged with two unearned runs and five hits over seven innings,striking out eight and walking none.
Dodgers RHP Kevin Brown’s lower abdominal strain will force him out of his next scheduled start Tuesday, and might affect his availability to pitch in the All-Star game on July 15—since his next scheduled start is July 13. Wilson Alvarez will start in Brown’s place at San Diego. … The last no-hitter pitched by a Dodger was Sept. 17, 1996, when Hideo Nomo beat Colorado 9-0 at Coors Field for the first of his two no-hitters. … The Dodgers’ last no-no at Dodger Stadium was turned in by Ramon Martinez, in a 7-0 triumph over Florida. … The only no-hitter pitched against the Diamondbacks was by St. Louis’ JoseJimenez, who beat them 1-0 on June 25, 1999, at Bank One Ballpark.