Cora's Double Tops Pirates

The big guy (Shawn Green) slugged a three-run homer in the first inning but when Hideo Nomo couldn't hold on to the lead, the little guy (Alex Cora) doubled in the winning run in the top of the ninth. The Dodgers relied on Darren Dreifort and Guillermo Mota (2-0), who worked scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth, the automatic guy, Eric Gagné, converted his 10th save of the year and his 73 consecutively to earn a 4-3 victory. The win boosted the Dodgers' record in one-run games to 10-0.

Nomo gave up seven hits and three earned runs. He had three strikeouts without a walk and threw 61 strikes in 88 pitches. He worked six innings and had his second quality start of the season but could only get a no-decision, Nomo failed to pitch into the seventh inning for the seventh time in as many outings.

But the Dodgers bullpen is a 6-0 with a 2.59 ERA.

Nomo, who gave up 24 homers in 218.1 innings in 2003. Allowed the Pirates' two homers Saturday and has been touched for half of last season's total (12) in only 39 innings this season.

The Dodgers feel they might have been too optimistic in believing Nomo would regain arm strength this soon after undergoing surgery on his pitching shoulder in October.

Nomo is winless in his last three starts, but the Dodgers were delighted by the increased speed of his fastball Saturday. Throwing from the stretch in the sixth, Nomo's fastball was clocked consistently in the high 80s and even reached 90 mph.

The Dodgers are convinced of the fact that his problem is a mechanical thing because his velocity goes up when he throws from the stretch.

Los Angeles jumped on top quickly in the top of the first inning. Paul Lo Duca singled to center. Milton Bradley singled to left. Dodgers' first baseman Shawn Green then banged a 2-2 drive deep into the right-field seats.

It was Green's seventh home run of the season and upped his RBI total to 16. The shot was his 143rd and moved him to within one home run of Dusty Baker on the Dodgers' career charts.

The Pirates got a solo first home run in the third, a double and a sac fly in the fifth and another solo shot in the sixth to tie the game.

The Dodgers scored the winning run in the ninth. Adrian Beltré extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single. With one out and Jose Hernandez drew a walk. Alex Cora doubled to drive in Beltré.

After Cora's RBI double in the top of the ninth, Gagné gave up a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning. The runner advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt but was stranded there when Gagné fanned a pinch-hitter and shortstop Cesar Izturis made a one-handed catch in shallow left-center field to give the Dodgers' their fourth victory in five games on the trip.

The Dodgers (19-10) moved a season-high nine games over .500, setting the stage for a possible sweep of the Pirates in a ballpark where Los Angeles now is 12-2 all-time. The Dodgers also held on to a one game lead over San Diego in the National League West after the Padres' extra-inning victory at Florida.

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