Dodgers in Freefall After Third Loss

The story on the surface of things is simple -- the Dodgers scored two in the first, the Giants scored three in the second. End of game. But underneath it was a typical Brooklyn/Los Angeles vs New York/San Francisco game with a bench-clearing incident, 'I said-he said' interviews aafterward and disappointments strewn about like stars on the Hollywood sidewalk of fame.

Another sellout crowd of 42,340 got their moneys worth, including a subdued bench-clearing incident in the fifth inning. The Giants won their fifth in a row and the first three games of the four-game series from their traditional rivals from the south.

The Dodgers opened the game without Milton Bradley, who was held out with a sore right shoulder, and Shawn Green, who was in a two-for-20 slump. Robin Ventura and Jason Grabowski, who started for Green and Bradley, went 0-for-7.

"We need Shawn Green. I don't think the word frustration is a good choice of words. He's a player I have seen be one of the best players in the game. But that spot in the lineup is a key element to the success not only of this club, but of any club. I know this guy is going to hit. If you have seen it before, it's there. We don't need home runs. We need the ball to be driven."--Manager Jim Tracy.

Jeff Weaver (5-8) was given a 2-0 lead in the first when Dave Roberts tripled and scored on Izturis' single. Izturis then stole his 12th base of the season, and scored on Adrian Beltré's single inside third base. It was the first of four hits for Beltré.

In the bottom of the inning, Weaver hit catcher A.J. Pierzynski with a pitch on his elbow, walked Damon Minor and loaded the bases on Deivi Cruz's bloop single to center. Ray Durham slugged a three-run triple and starter Jerome Williams (7-5) and four relievers combined to shut out the Dodgers over the final eight innings.

Weaver delivered his 10th quality start of the season, including the ninth in his last 11 outings and he pitched well enough win. After the second inning no Giant reached second base against him and he allowed just two singles the rest of the game before leaving in the top of the seventh.

In the fifth, Michael Tucker attempted a drag bunt. Robin Ventura flipped the ball to Weaver, who made the tag and the two bumped into each other. Weaver shoved back, shouting and pointing as the dugouts emptied. The umpires restored order and no one was ejected from the game.

Green singled while pinch-hitting with two out in the ninth against Giant closer Matt Herges. The former Dodger setup man suffered his fifth blown save while getting the victory in the series opener, but Herges got it right this time.

There hasn't been a four-game Giants sweep over the Dodgers in the Bay Area since 1975, but San Francisco can do it with a victory Thursday, when Los Angeles starts Hideo Nomo, who is 3-8 and winless the last two months. After beginning the series with a 1 1/2-game lead, the Dodgers are assured of returning to Los Angeles in second place and are only one game ahead of the San Diego Padres.