Dodgers 2, Padres 1

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SAN DIEGO (AP)—Time is running out on Alex Cora and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Cora drove in the go-ahead run with a double in the ninth inning, lifting Los Angeles to a 2-1 victory over the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night.

The Dodgers stayed 3 1/2 games behind Florida in the NL wild-card race with only six remaining. The Marlins have five to play.

“Nothing is impossible,” Los Angeles starter Wilson Alvarez said. “We’re still in it. Hopefully, this game will make all the guys here play a little harder tomorrow because we can’t lose from now on. We have to win every day.”

Although he didn’t get a decision, Alvarez played a big part in the win by limiting the Padres to one run over seven innings.

The Dodgers also got a perfect eighth inning from Tom Martin (1-2), and Eric Gagne finished with three straight outs for his 54th save. It extended his major league record for consecutive saves to 62, dating to last year.

“What you are beginning to see with (Gagne) is the level of his performance, if it’s possible, has raised itself,” Los Angeles manager Jim Tracy said.

Gagne moved into third place on the single-season saves list behind Bobby Thigpen (57) and John Smoltz (55).

“Of course, we’re in there, we’re alive,” Gagne said of the Dodgers’ playoff chances. “It’s not as good as yesterday or the day before, but we’re still in it mathematically.”

Adrian Beltre hit a solo home run for Los Angeles, a shot to center off Jake Peavy in the seventh inning that tied the score at 1.

Beltre’s 412-foot homer was his 23rd of the year, adding to his career high.

“I just wish I could have that one pitch back,” Peavy said. “You have a guy who’s hot there and I made a bad pitch to him.”

Cora’s double off Rod Beck (3-2) with one out in the ninth scored Jeromy Burnitz from first base. Burnitz reached on a one-out single off Beck, who started the ninth.

With Burnitz running on the pitch, Cora lined a shot into the left-center gap to score Burnitz without a throw.

“When Bernie got on I had a feeling that the hit-and-run might be on if I got ahead in the count,” Cora said. “You have to execute in that spot. Bernie got a great jump and I got my bat on the ball.”

Beck had one of his few poor performances since coming to San Diego on June 2. Beck, who assumed the closer’s role while Trevor Hoffman was sidelined after two shoulder surgeries, has 21 saves in 21 chances.

“It was a fastball that I was trying to go in, but it just sailed up and away,” Beck said of the pitch to Cora. “I was just off today, not driving the ball.”

Alvarez matched Peavy through seven innings. But the Dodgers’ left-hander hurt himself with a wild pitch in the fourth inning that allowed Mark Loretta to score from third base.

Alvarez issued a leadoff walk to Loretta, who went to third on Phil Nevin’s single.

The run snapped Alvarez’s consecutive scoreless innings streak at 25. Alvarez did not allow a run in seven innings against Arizona in his last start and shut out the Padres at Los Angeles on Sept. 12.

“That was another terrific performance by Wilson Alvarez,” Tracy said. “I don’t know what else this guy can do. He’s been phenomenal.”

The Dodgers have thrown four wild pitches in the first two games of the series, allowing three runs to score.

Alvarez and Peavy each allowed one run on five hits through seven innings. Alvarez struck out five and walked one. Peavy had three strikeouts and gave up one walk.

Before Beltre homered, Los Angeles did not challenge Peavy. The only real scoring threat came in the first inning with runners at first and second after two-out singles by Shawn Green and Robin Ventura. But Peavy ended the inning bystriking out Beltre.

Notes

Beltre has 17 home runs and 46 RBIs since the All-Star break. … TheDodgers have scored two runs or fewer in 59 games.

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