Alvarez Brilliant -- Again

Wilson Alvarez, hobbled by arm problems just over a year ago, filled in for Kaz Ishii with a second sparkling pitching performance, smothering the Cubs offense 4-0. It was his second start of the season and during each he has not allowed an earned run, lowering his ERA to 1.15. Alex Cora brought the fans to their feet in the seventh when he fouled off pitch after pitch. Finally, on the 18th offering, Cora whacked his second homer of the season into the right field bullpen.

Alvarez extended his current scoreless streak to 17.1 innings, and has allowed one earned run or less in 10 of his 14 Dodgers starts. He struck out eight in 7.2 innings and at one point retired 13 consecutive Cubs.

Guillermo Mota, who had combined with Alvarez on a one-hit shutout Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, continued his successful partnership, entering the game in the eighth to retire Sammy Sosa with a runner on first and two out.

Manager Jim Tracy announced before the game that Alvarez (2-0), who allowed only two Cubs to reach second base and none after the third inning, was officially a member of the Dodger starting rotation.

Alex Cora's unbelievable seventh-inning duel saw him run the count to 2-1, then foul off 14 consecutive pitches in an 18-pitch at-bat before smacking a game-clinching two-run homer to right, as the Dodgers won a season-high sixth consecutive game.

"I started to hear the fans when they started to put the number up on the scoreboard. I looked up there for the pitch speed, then I saw how many foul balls. He kept throwing sliders and cutters, I kept fouling them off. I'm not a home run hitter. It's something I'll always remember. The most memorable at-bat of my life." -- Alex Cora

It was Cora's second home run of the year and it left him 7-for-18 lifetime against Clement, who was removed from the game. Cora also has a seven-game hitting streak during which he has hit .520.

During a two-run second inning, the Dodgers had only one of their five hits go put of the infield. Alvarez lifted a soft single to left field to get the rally underway. Paul Lo Duca hit a little roller down the third base line that was allowed to go untouched for a single and Milton Bradley hit back to the pitcher but beat the throw to load the bases.

Shawn Green followed with a grounder that took a bad hop off the third baseman and Alvarez scored to make it 1-0. Beltré put the Dodgers ahead, 2-0, on his single to the third baseman who couldn't get the ball out of his glove in time to make a throw. Adrian Beltré extended his hitting streak to 15 games on the play.

Podesta Pleased--General manager Paul DePodesta made a tour of the Dodgers' minor-league teams in Jacksonville, Vero Beach and Columbus, and the team's facility in the Dominican Republic during last week's road trip. He said he was encouraged, especially by the depth of pitching. He was extremely impressed with the Dominican complex.

Dodger Blue Notes--Disabled outfielder Dave Roberts has resumed hitting and continues light legwork as he recovers from a strained hamstring. Roberts is eligible to be activated May 20 and plans to be ready. ... The splint came off the injured thumb of reliever Paul Shuey, who has begun exercises to regain motion. Shuey had already begun throwing with the splint and now will throw without it. He estimates being 100 percent and active by early to mid June. ... Pitcher Jose Lima, who during the winter is the lead singer of the musical group Banda Mambo, will sing the national anthem and God Bless America before Thursday's day game. ... Adrian Beltré started at third base despite a sore left ankle that Tracy said has limited Beltré's mobility. Beltré left Tuesday's game after the seventh inning. ... Kazuhisa Ishii, who had soreness in a tendon attached to his sternum, is no longer experiencing problems and is expected to make his start Sunday.