The Los Angeles Dodgers’ closer struck out the side in the ninth for a 6-4 victory Thursday afternoon, extending his major-league record for consecutive saves at the start of a season with his 40th.
Florida beat Los Angeles the previous two nights with walk-off homers in extra innings, but the Marlins went down 1-2-3 on 11 pitches against Gagne.
“It seems the more work he gets, the more effective he gets,” Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said.
Over the past 20 innings, the right-hander has allowed no runs and three hits while striking out 32.
“His numbers speak for themselves,” Florida’s Mike Lowell said. “You know you’ll have a tough at-bat, because he throws hard, and he throws off-speed pitches for strikes.”
The Marlins lost the lead in the NL wild-card race to the Philadelphia Phillies, who moved one-half game ahead by beating Milwaukee 4-3. The Dodgers closed to within four games and salvaged a split of their four-game series in Miami.
“It’s nice to come away with a split after the tough games we played the past few days,” outfielder Jeromy Burnitz said.
Burnitz and Adrian Beltre hit two-run homers, increasing the Dodgers’ season total to 83—lowest in the major leagues.
“If I hadn’t given up a home run in a jet stream, it would have been an easier game,” Brown said.
But Beltre’s home run was also aided by a 15-mph wind, barely clearing the center-field wall to give the Dodgers a 4-3 lead off Mark Redman (10-6). Burnitz homered in the seventh off Armando Almanza to make it 6-3.
“On a windy day, with anything in the air you’re playing Russian roulette,” Redman said.
Los Angeles’ Shawn Green went 3-for-4 with a walk, stole two bases and scored twice.
Brown allowed only five hits and won for only the second time in his past nine games. His start was moved up one day after right-hander Andy Ashby came down the flu Wednesday.
“We had somebody go down, and somebody had to move up,” Brown said. “I told them I was available.”
Redman needed 119 pitches to get through five innings, allowing seven hits and four runs. Florida starters have an ERA of 6.67 in the past five games.
Beltre hit his 13th home run in the fifth after Green walked with two out. Green led off the seventh with a single and scored with two out on Burnitz’s 24th homer.
The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the first, scoring only their second run in 20 innings. Paul Lo Duca was hit by a pitch, Green singled and Ron Croomer hit a two-out RBI single.
Cabrera hit his seventh home run after Lowell singled and Derrek Lee walked.
Burnitz reached on an infield hit in the fourth when umpire Jim Wolf ruled Lee was late touching first base, although TV replays showed Burnitz was out. He then scored on a double by Jolbert Cabrera to cut Florida’s lead to 3-2.
Florida made it 6-4 in the eighth off Paul Quantrill when Juan Pierre reached on an infield single, advanced when Lowell walked, took third on a flyout and scored on Juan Encarnacion’s infield single. Lee popped out to end the inning.
That was the extent of the Marlins’ comeback bid, and the Dodgers improved to 51-1 when leading after seven innings. Their relief corps’ ERA of 2.08 is baseball’s best.
“Their bullpen is unbelievable,” Florida catcher Mike Redmond said.“Those guys are pretty impressive.”
The Dodgers won the season series 5-2. … The top three batters in the Marlins lineup grounded out to second base seven times against Brown. … Redmond went 0-for-3 against Brown, dropping his lifetime average against the right-hander to .077 (1-for-13). … The Dodgers improved to 44-12 when they score more than three runs. … Ivan Rodriguez flied out pinch-hitting and is 2-for-17 against Los Angeles this season.