Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 6

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PHOENIX (AP)—When the Los Angeles bullpen had a rare letdown, Robin Ventura was ready with some run support.

Ventura hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the ninth inning, lifting the Dodgers to a 7-6 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday night.

“I was just trying to get a good pitch,” said Ventura, a 16-year veteran relegated to spot duty. “Hitting a home run, I don’t think is something you try to do. If you put a good swing on it, it’ll go, but I would have been just as happy with a double.”

Adrian Beltre had an RBI double earlier in the inning off Mike Koplove, who hit two batters, walked one and gave up three runs while getting just one out.

Koplove was pulled after Beltre’s hit. Brian Bruney (2-3) relieved and got an out before allowing the homer to Ventura.

Eric Gagne struck out the side around a single in the ninth for his 25th save in 26 chances as the Dodgers won for the 14th time in 17 games.

The Arizona bullpen blew two saves, ruining a strong effort by starter Casey Fossum and a comeback keyed by Juan Brito’s tiebreaking double in the eighth.

Brito drove the ball into center off Guillermo Mota with one out after Mota (7-3) walked Alex Cintron to lead off. Luis Terrero also had an RBI double to give Arizona a 6-4 lead.

In the Dodgers eighth, Koplove came in with two outs, hit Milton Bradley in the helmet—knocking him out of the game—and walked Shawn Green to set up pinch-hitter Jason Grabowski’s run-scoring single that tied it 4-all.

“A big base hit off the bench in the eighth inning by Grabowski to tie the game,” manager Jim Tracy said. “They score two off of Mota, and then the other guy, Beltre, off the bench with the two base hits and then the Ventura home run. You can’t say enough about the job those guys have done.”

Koplove called Bradley to apologize after the game.

“I’m sure he felt bad enough, especially when they lost the ballgame,” Bradley said. “I’m kind of glad it happened. We got the win.”

Koplove, Arizona’s third closer this season after injuries to Matt Mantei and Jose Valverde, refused to blame his shakiness on hitting Bradley.

“I’ve hit people before—never in the head—but I usually don’t let that bother me,” Koplove said. “I was just wild.”

Earlier, Shea Hillenbrand’s two-run homer gave the Diamondbacks a 4-2 lead. Quinton McCracken and Tim Olson had RBI doubles for Arizona, which lost its sixth straight and nine of 10.

Manager Al Pedrique, who fell to 2-11 since replacing Bob Brenly, said it was his most discouraging loss.

“Any time you go in the ninth inning with a two-run lead, that should be in the bank,” Pedrique said.

Fossum worked 6 2-3 strong innings, allowing three runs on five hits and striking out five in his longest outing since working seven for the Red Sox in a 5-2 win at Anaheim on April 25, 2003.

Odalis Perez returned to the Dodgers rotation for the first time since developing tendinitis in his left rotator cuff during a start against Anaheim on June 26. He went five innings, allowing nine hits and four runs—only one earned.

The Dodgers got an RBI single from Cesar Izturis in the fifth to get to 4-3.

Arizona, which has the worst record in the majors at 31-61, played like it while giving up two runs in the second.

Olmedo Saenz popped up in short right field with one out, but second baseman Scott Hairston overran the ball while calling off first baseman Hillenbrand, and it dropped for a single.

Jayson Werth followed with an RBI double, stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Alex Cora.

But the Diamondbacks scored on back-to-back doubles by Cintron and Olson in the second, then took a 4-2 lead in the third while nearly knocking out two position players.

Fossum, leading off, hit a weak grounder to third but jammed Saenz’s glove hand at first, knocking the ball loose after a throw from Hernandez. Saenz, who was charged with an error, rubbed his wrist but stayed in the game.

Fossum scored from first on McCracken’s double to center, where Bradley was shaken up diving for the ball, and Hillenbrand added his 416-foot shot into the left-field seats.

Notes

Saenz’s fielding error was the Dodgers’ seventh in 34 games and only their major league-best 36th overall. … Bradley had a rough game, getting hit twice in four at-bats along with his tumble in the field. … Dodgers C Paul Lo Duca has had a bad series in Phoenix, going 2-for-12 and striking out four times after striking out just 23 times in 78 previous games.

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