Dodgers 3, Padres 2

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—Adrian Beltre became the latest Dodger to get the big hit during a late-inning rally.

Beltre homered off Rod Beck with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving Los Angeles a 3-2 comeback victory over the San Diego Padres on Friday night.

“We’ve rallied late in games and come up with some huge hits and huge home runs,” Shawn Green said. “And every game you think, `Hey, can we do it again?’ These are the kind of wins you just don’t see more than a few times a year on a normal team. Those are the kind of signs you see on teams that do great things late in the season.”

Playing in front of a record Dodger Stadium crowd of 55,311 that pushed the season total over the 2 million mark, the Dodgers won for the 16th time in 18 games and increased their division lead to 3 1/2 games over San Diego and San Francisco.

“I did expect the team to have a run like this,” Beltre said. “This club has what it takes to win. We’ve had some ups and downs and tough times, but we’ve gotten it together and we’re playing the way we should be playing.”

Beltre’s homer inside the left-field pole on the first pitch he saw from Beck (0-2), increased his career-high total to 26. He is hitting .325 with 66 RBIs despite playing the entire season with bone chips in his ankle.

“He’s out there hopping around on one leg and he’s having the greatest year of his life,” teammate Milton Bradley said. “He’s just amazing.”

Dodgers pitcher Jose Lima, who gave up two runs and five hits over eight innings and struck out five, agreed.

“I don’t know about MVP, because I don’t want to jinx the guy, but I’m still pretty mad that he didn’t make the All-Star team,” Lima said. “If you see his numbers compared to other guys who made it, Beltre was leading everything. It’s kind of pathetic.

“He plays hard every day and he’s hurt. He’s got bone chips in his ankle, but he’s just going to keep swinging the bat and take us to the World Series.”

All-Star closer Eric Gagne (3-0) got the win, pitching a scoreless ninth inning.

Leading 2-1, Padres starter Brian Lawrence retired 13 straight before Juan Encarnacion chased him with his second ground-rule double leading off the eighth.

“We never thought we were out of it,” said Bradley, who hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning Thursday to help the Dodgers beat Colorado 4-2. “It was a one-run game, so of course we weren’t out of it—but you knew something was going to happen.”

Akinori Otsuka relieved and made a horrible throw past first base on Alex Cora’s sacrifice, allowing Encarnacion to score the tying run. Right fielder Brian Giles, who backed up the play, made a worse throw when he lost his grip on the ball. His throw dribbled to an uncovered second base.

Cora went to third on the play, but couldn’t score on two shallow fly balls before Jayson Werth struck out.

Lawrence threw 100 pitches in his 100th major league start, allowing two runs—one earned—and four hits in seven-plus innings.

Sean Burroughs and Miguel Ojeda homered for the Padres, who were without shortstop Khalil Greene for the second straight game because of a bruised left shin. He was hit by a pitch from San Francisco’s Wayne Franklin on Wednesday.

“It’s just another loss,” the Padres’ Jay Payton said. “It would have been nice to get the win and pick up a game instead of losing a game. But we’ve still got 66 games left, and we’ve got plenty more head-to-heads with them.”

Lima escaped a bases-loaded threat in the third when catcher Paul Lo Duca pounced on Rich Aurilia’s dribbler and tagged the plate for the force on Burroughs. But Ojeda gave the Padres a 2-1 lead in the fourth with his fifth homer and second in two games.

Lima’s outing began just like his previous one did—with a home run by the first batter he faced. Burroughs drove a 1-0 pitch to left-center for his second homer of the season, ending his homerless drought at 170 at-bats.

The Dodgers tied it in the second with two-out doubles by Encarnacion and Cora. Lima followed with a single, but center fielder Payton—playing shallow — charged the ball and made a perfect one-hop throw to Ojeda for the tag on Cora.


Wes Parker, a six-time Gold Glove 1B, was among several ex-Dodgers greats on hand for the dedication of six placards commemorating the team’s World Series championships. … Encarnacion is 9-for-16 lifetime against Lawrence. … Before the game, Dodgers manager Jim Tracy was telling reporters about how quickly Lawrence gets the ball to the plate—under 1.2 seconds by average. In the first inning, Ojeda threw out Izturis trying to steal second.

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