Dodgers 6, Cardinals 3

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—The T-shirt Hideo Nomo wore was perfect for the occasion: “Life is Good,” it said, beneath a picture of a smiling baseball player swinging a bat.

Nomo pitched six strong innings and suddenly turned slugger Thursday night, adding a two-run homer and an RBI double to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers over the St. Louis Cardinals 6-3.

“I feel lucky today,” the 34-year-old right-hander said through an interpreter.

“Of course,” he replied when asked if he was surprised.

Nomo grinned almost as broadly as the player on the T-shirt when the picture was pointed out to him.

The extra-base hits were the first this season by Nomo, as were the RBIs. Nomo, who entered with five singles in 41 at-bats, had never driven in multiple runs in a game.

Nomo (10-8) limited the Cardinals to two hits and one unearned run while walking four and striking out five. He threw 85 pitches in addition to running the bases on a hot, humid night.

Adrian Beltre also drove in three runs for the Dodgers, who won their second straight after losing 15 of 19.

The Cardinals had their three-game winning streak snapped while losing for the ninth time in 15 games.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Nomo’s record speaks for itself.

“He doesn’t have a lot of wins, but he’s been very tough to score on,” La Russa said. “It’s tough to spot that kind of pitcher that many runs.”

The game was the first in a Los Angeles uniform for outfielders Rickey Henderson and Jeromy Burnitz, acquired during the All-Star break to beef up the offense.

Nomo took care of that in this game.

“Nomo did it all by himself, pretty much,” Burnitz said. “That was awesome.”

The 44-year-old Henderson, baseball’s career leader in runs scored, walks and stolen bases, went 1-for-4. He signed with the Dodgers after playing 56 games for Newark of the independent Atlantic League.

“I’m always nervous the first day,” Henderson said. “I feel great. The team won the ballgame, that’s the important thing.”

Henderson said he wouldn’t be nervous from now on.

“It’s all over with,” he said with a smile. “It’s just one day.”

Burnitz, traded to the Dodgers by the New York Mets for three minor leaguers, went hitless in four at-bats.

But he said he couldn’t have been more pleased, calling this a fresh start.

“It is in a sense that this is really the first time I’ve had an opportunity to play where wins and losses really matter,” he said—a reference to playing with non-contenders his whole career.

Nomo hit a 1-1 pitch from Garrett Stephenson (4-10) into the left field pavilion in the third to snap a scoreless tie. It was Nomo’s third career homer in his 432nd at-bat.

The Cardinals got an unearned run in the fourth on third baseman Beltre’s throwing error, but he atoned by hitting his seventh homer in the Dodgers’ half.

Nomo doubled home Cesar Izturis later in the fourth to make it 4-1, and Beltre added a two-out, two-run single off Jeff Fassero in the fifth.

Albert Pujols hit a two-out double off Guillermo Mota in the eighth to drive in the second St. Louis run. Right fielder Shawn Green then made a diving catch of Scott Rolen’s blooper to end the inning.

Eduardo Perez’s run-scoring groundout in the ninth made it 6-3 before Eric Gagne got the final out to earn his 32nd save in 32 opportunities. It was Gagne’s 40th straight save overall, not counting his blown save and loss in Tuesday’s All-Star game.

Henderson, one of the most productive leadoff batters in baseball history, received a warm welcome from the Dodger Stadium crowd of 40,331. He worked the count full in his first major league at-bat of the season before lining to center.

He lined another full-count pitch to center for a single in his second at-bat—immediately after Nomo’s homer. Henderson struck out in his last two at-bats.

Stephenson allowed six hits and four runs in four innings.

All-Star outfielder Jim Edmonds was a late scratch for St. Louis because ofsoreness in his right shoulder.

Notes

Instead of wearing his familiar No. 24, Henderson wore No. 25. Hall of Famer Walter Alston wore No. 24 while managing the Dodgers and that number has been retired by the team. … Rolen had gone hitless in 12 straight at-bats before hitting a single in the fourth. … The Dodgers optioned OF Chin-Feng Chen and RHP Alfredo Gonzalez to Triple-A Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League to make room for Burnitz and Henderson. … Barring anything unforeseen, Dodgers RHP Kevin Brown will come off the disabled list Saturday and start against the Cardinals. Brown, 10-4 with a 2.30 ERA, hasn’t pitched since straining an abdominal muscle July 3 while running the bases against San Diego. “He ran much better yesterday,” manager Jim Tracy said. … The Cardinals won 50 games following the All-Star break in each of the last two seasons, going50-26 two years ago and 50-29 last year.

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