Beltre's Three RBI Saves Dodgers

Adrian Beltré says he is thinking positive this year and any time he goes to the plate, he feels like he can get a hit. Beltré certainly had that feeling in the first and seventh innings, when he blasted solo home runs, and in the eighth, when he hit a run-scoring single through the right side of the infield to lift the Dodgers to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory in front of a packed house (52,900). L.A. trailed 4-2 before the late-inning rally gave them their eighth win in eight one-run games.

Beltré, who went three for five to lift his batting average to .367, lined an inside fastball to right in the eighth to score Jason Grabowski from third with the winning run. Grabowski had led off the inning with a pinch-hit double to right-center and went to third on Dave Roberts' sacrifice bunt.

Beltré also slugged his team-leading eighth and ninth homers and his 21st, 22nd and 23rd runs batted in to help Jose Lima, who needed 98 pitches to get through five innings in which he gave up seven hits and four runs.

The Dodger bullpen held the Expos scoreless the rest of the way, with closer Eric Gagné striking out the side in the ninth to record his seventh save, extending to 70 his major league record for consecutive saves dating to August 2002.

The Dodgers, after winning and losing on consecutive days since sweeping the Giants in mid-April, won a second consecutive game for the first time in two weeks.

Beltré got the Dodgers on the board in the first inning with a two-out solo homer that cleared the right-field wall. The Dodgers went up, 2-0, in the second when Lima's two-out single scored Juan Encarnacion.

The Expos evened the game in the third. The first run came home on a one-out bunt single as Beltré's throw sailed over the head of first baseman Robin Ventura. A stolen base and a single to right tied it 2-2, a home run to left made it 3-2 Montreal and they stretched their lead to 4-2 in the fifth.

The Dodgers nearly broke the game open in the sixth when, trailing 4-2, they loaded the bases when Juan Encarnacion and Robin Ventura hit consecutive singles and moved up a base when Alex Cora was hit by a pitch. However, pinch-hitter Jose Hernandez struck out swinging on what would have been ball four, and Roberts grounded into what looked like a double play.

But the first baseman couldn't get the ball out of his glove and had to settle for one out, tagging Roberts on the first base line while Encarnacion came home to pull the Dodgers within a run.

Beltré tied the game on the first pitch in the seventh with his second homer, this one just to the left of straightaway center.

Dodgers starter Jose Lima retired six of the first seven Expos, but they caught up to him in the third. He left trailing, 4-2, after five innings and 98 pitches, having given up seven hits, striking out three and walking two.

Tom Martin, who pitched the seventh, left in the eighth after allowing a leadoff walk. Against Guillermo Mota, the runner stole second. But Mota got a ground out, then got out of the inning liner to center and Roberts doubled up the runner, who was going on the pitch.

Mota (1-0) pitched the eighth inning to earn the win and Eric Gagné pitched a perfect ninth inning for the save, his seventh of the season.

Dodger Blue Notes--Only Giants slugger Barry Bonds, who has 10, has more home runs than Beltré. ... Because of Monday's off day, the Dodgers will not need a fifth starter again until Saturday in Pittsburgh. The Dodgers could stay with Lima, return Wilson Alvarez to the rotation or promote Edwin Jackson from Las Vegas. But Lima kept the Dodgers in the game, and that could be enough to keep him in the rotation. ... Eric Gagné struck out the side in the ninth for his 70th consecutive converted save opportunity. ... During spring training, Dodgers hitting coach Tim Wallach told each batter he wanted them to improve on their pitch selection, and through the first month of the season, it seems Wallach's teachings are paying off. The Dodgers hit .243 as a team in 2002 but entering Saturday they were hitting .282. Last year's team scored 574 runs, worst in baseball, but this year's team is on pace to score 802 runs. ... As expected, Milton Bradley missed his second consecutive game with a sprained left ankle, and his status for Sunday's game, and the start of the upcoming road trip, is unknown. ... As we noted yesterday in this space, Boston Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez, who has always said he would never consider returning to the Dodgers, now has an open mind about it. Martinez, in an interview with reporters covering the Red Sox on Friday night, did not rule out negotiating with the Red Sox when the season was over, but he said he would now consider any team, including the Dodgers. The Dodgers traded Martinez to the Montreal Expos for second baseman Delino DeShields in November 1993. Then-General Manager Fred Claire has always taken responsibility for what became one of the worst transactions in club history, but Martinez has also put responsibility on Manager Tom Lasorda for influencing Claire's thinking that Martinez was too frail to be either a regular starter or dependable reliever. Dr. Frank Jobe, who operated on Martinez's left shoulder in 1992, has acknowledged that he told Claire that Martinez could be vulnerable to physical problems. ... Paul Lo Duca went 65 games and 266 at-bats between his final home run of 2003 and his first of this season, which is OK with the Dodgers considering the catcher entered Saturday's game against Montreal second in the National League with a .416 average and ninth with a .447 on-base percentage. A one-time home run threat who hit a career-high 25 homers in 2001, Lo Duca has shortened his stroke this season and utilized a different stance to become a better contact hitter. Lo Duca hit 10 homers in 2002 and seven in 2003. With his solo shot Friday against the Expos, he is on pace to hit six this season.

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