Jackson Wins His Second Game

As the thin, Blue line charged across the National League West plains, bodies began to fall on all sides of them. But they doggedly filled in their thinning ranks with young troops and when the smoke cleared, tired and battle-scarred, they led the division. Well, perhaps that's overdramatizing the case but in any event, Rookie Edwin Jackson and LA earned the win, despite adding Adrian Beltré and Shawn Green to a *M*A*S*H* list that already includes Juan Encarnacion, Odalis Perez and Hideo Nomo.

Where is Hawkeye and Hot Lips when we need them?

Beltré left after his right thigh muscle flared in the second inning and Green was removed for a pinch-runner in the fifth after being hit by a pitch on the thigh near his left knee. It is unclear the extent of the injury to Green but Beltré, already hobbled with bone chips in his ankle, will be shut down until after the All-Star break.

"We'll probably take these next three days and then the next three days during the All-Star break and give it six days to completely quiet down. With what he's dealing with right now with the ankle situation and add the quad to it, it wouldn't be good for him, it wouldn't be good for the club."--Manager Jim Tracy speaking of Beltré's injuries.

The Dodgers tied a season high with their sixth consecutive victory to take sole possession of first place for the first time since June 21.

Edwin Jackson pitched five strong innings and even drove in the go-ahead run with a fourth-inning single and Paul Lo Duca, newly appointed to the All-Star squad, homered (#7) as the Dodgers opened their final series before the All-Star break.

Jackson left for a pinch-hitter after the he had given up only five hits and two runs in five innings. He struck out two, walked none and made 64 pitches. Jackson was throwing six miles an hour slower than his normal 95 mph until the fourth inning, when he hit 90 mph for the first time and topped at 92 mph.

Offsetting the injuries, the Dodgers used sparkling defense from outfielders Jayson Werth and Milton Bradley who made consecutive diving catches in the seventh and heady baserunning by Jose Hernandez, who scored later in the inning after Houston third baseman and former Dodger Jose Vizcaino fielded Olmedo Saenz's grounder but then broke for home the moment Vizcaino threw to first for the out, beating the throw home.

Reliever Darren Dreifort walked the bases loaded with one out in the eighth, but Tom Martin got a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. Martin pitched a perfect ninth to record his first save since 1997 with Houston. The Dodger bullpen finished up with four scoreless innings.

A two-run homer to left in the third gave the Astros a 2-0 lead but the Dodgers scored the next seven runs.

L.A. tied it in the fourth on a bloop single to center by Robin Ventura who replaced Beltré at third base. Singles by Bradley and Jayson Werth made it 2-2. With two outs, Jackson put his team ahead by lining a 2-2 pitch to center for his first Major League hit to drive home Bradley.

The Dodgers added a pair of runs in the fifth on Lo Duca's homer and an RBI single by Alex Cora. However Green was struck his left quad by a pitch. He stayed in the game but after reaching second base on Cora's single, he was lifted for pinch-runner Jose Lima.