Dodgers 3, Cubs 1

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—Eric Gagne made it to his mark in a hurry.

Gagne set the major league record for consecutive saves to start a season, and Adrian Beltre’s tiebreaking two-run homer helped Andy Ashby end a personal five-game losing streak as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 3-1 on Friday night.

“What’s impressive to me is that he broke the record and it’s still only Aug. 8,” Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said.

Gagne got three outs for his 47th consecutive save and 39th without a miss this season—breaking Jose Mesa’s major league record set in 1995 with Cleveland.

Gagne struck out Sammy Sosa on a 2-2 fastball, then fanned Moises Alou and retired Aramis Ramirez, who homered in the second inning for Chicago’s only run.

“It’s fun,” said Gagne, in only his second season as a reliever after setting a franchise record with 55 saves last year. “I wasn’t really more fired up, but maybe a little more nervous. You always want to challenge people, and tonight I won.”

Ashby (3-9) won for the first time in seven outings since beating Anaheim 4-2 on June 21. He allowed a run and three hits in five innings, struck out five and walked two while helping the Dodgers win their fifth straight and snap Chicago’s four-game winning streak.

“It’s been frustrating for me, but the main thing is to try and stay positive, try to have a good attitude and keep it close so that we have a chance to win,” Ashby said.

The Cubs did not get a hit after back-to-back singles by Ramon Martinez and Sosa with two outs in the third. Their only baserunner the rest of the way was Paul Bako, on a leadoff walk in the fifth.

After Ashby departed, Guillermo Mota, Tom Martin, Paul Quantrill and Gagne retired the last 15 Cubs to lower the bullpen’s NL-best ERA to 2.06.

Cubs left-hander Shawn Estes (7-9) stranded eight baserunners in the first four innings, six in scoring position. But in the fifth, he issued a leadoff walk to Jeromy Burnitz and Beltre followed with his 11th homer to give Los Angeles a 3-1 lead they would not relinquish.

Eric Karros was 0-for-3 in the first meeting between the teams since the Dodgers traded him and Mark Grudzielanek to the Cubs in December for Todd Hundley and Chad Hermansen.

Karros, who hit more home runs (270) than any Dodger since the franchise moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958, spent 11 full seasons with them and was the 1992 NL Rookie of the Year. He averaged 31 homers and 104 RBIs between 1995 and 2000 before shoulder and back problems curtailed his production the next two seasons.

“The Dodgers gave me an opportunity to play major league baseball and provided me and my family with a wonderful living,” Karros said. “The only thing I regretted was the way it ended, and some of the comments that were made afterward about why I was traded.

“But I was proud of the fact that I was able to be a consistent player here. I tried to handle myself in a professional manner, both on and off the field, and represent the organization.”

Karros, who received mostly applause when the starting lineups were announced, was upstaged his first time up. He had to wait until Ramirez finished rounding the bases on his 14th home run before grounding out to third.

The Dodgers tied it at 1 in their half of the second with an unearned run. Robin Ventura led off with a grounder to shortstop and was safe on a headfirst dive when Alex Gonzalez’s throw pulled Karros off the bag. Jolbert Cabrera doubled, and Ventura scored on a sacrifice fly by Cesar Izturis—who was robbed of a hit by Sosa’s diving backhanded grab in the alley.

Estes allowed three runs and eight hits over seven innings, striking out six and walking four. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth by retiring ShawnGreen on a comebacker.

Notes

Karros, who had never been in Dodger Stadium’s visiting clubhouse before, was given the first locker adjacent to the showers—a place of honor that over the years has been used by Willie Stargell, Willie Mays, Lou Brock, Johnny Bench, Willie McCovey, Dave Winfield, Terry Pendleton, Dwight Gooden, Larry Walker and Frank Thomas. It was a tradition that was started in 1962 by visiting clubhouse manager Jim Muhe and has been perpetuated by his successor, Jerry Turner. … Grudzielanek is on the disabled list with a broken right hand, and doesn’t expect to play again until the end of the month, at theearliest.

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