Ninth Inning Rallly Fizzles, Astros Win

Jeff Weaver, unlike Rodney Dangerfield, gets respect but little run support and that trend earned him another loss as the Astros smothered a ninth inning rally to win in front of 52,783 at Dodger Stadium, ending their six-game winning streak. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Shawn Green grounded into a game-ending double play. They won't see a lefty tonight but they will see Roger Clemens and that doesn't come under the heading of good news.

Weaver's 13th quality start in 18 games wasn't enough to beat his former Yankee teammate, Andy Pettitte who retired eight straight Dodgers at one point on ground balls. He had little trouble against a Dodgers lineup that was without injured regulars Juan Encarnacion (shoulder inflammation), Adrian Beltré (strained quadriceps), Milton Bradley (sore shoulder) and Roberts, who doesn't start against left-handed pitchers.

Jose Hernandez was at third base, Olmedo Saenz at first base and cleanup, Jayson Werth was in center field and David Ross behind the plate.

Weaver is 6-9, but the Dodgers have scored only 16 runs in those losses (1.78 per game), numbers that would make even Sandy Koufax struggle for a win. Weaver was charged with three runs in 7.1 innings.

He gave up a looping double just inside the left field foul line in the eighth inning with the game tied 2-2. Moments later former Dodger Jose Vizcaino lined an RBI single to center field.

Jayson Werth's two-run homer accounted for all the Dodgers scoring off Pettitte, who allowed oly four hits.

The Dodgers had a chance when they loaded the bases with one out in the last of the ninth. Cesar Izturis beat out a perfect bunt, his second hit of the night, but Hernandez was unable to bunt him to second, striking out when he fouled off two-strike bunt.

Paul Lo Duca and pinch-hitter Jason Grabowski walked to load the bases but Green, after missing the first two pitches, ran the count full before grounding to the first baseman who was playing short in an attempt to cut the run off at the plate and the Astros turned a 3-6-1 double play to end things.

Weaver allowed a home run in the fourth and another run in the fifth ass the Astros took a 2-0 lead.

Werth tied it in the bottom of the fifth. Saenz, batting clean-up for Beltré, singled to center. Green lined out to left and Werth crushed a 2-1 pitch that hit the top of the fence in center field and bounced over for his sixth home run in 59 at-bats.

Werth is putting up spectacular numbers, batting .333 with six homers and 13 runs batted in during his 14 starts, a pace that would give him a Ruthian 69 homers and 150 RBI over a 162-game season.

"I need to see more of him. I'm intrigued with all of his game. He's got energy, he runs well, he has tremendous power and he's a darn good outfielder. He's been a very good acquisition, as has Grabowski. Werth has the potential to be an every-day player. He brings a lot to the table."--Manager Jim Tracy.

Despite the loss, the Dodgers remain in first place in the National League West by a half-game over San Francisco.

Dodger Blue Notes--As expected, the Dodgers placed Juan Encarnacion and his sore shoulder on the disabled list and called up outfielder Chin-Feng Chen from Triple-A Las Vegas. Chen, hitting .306 with 17 home runs and 56 runs batted in, recently became Las Vegas' career leader with 69 homers. But he got the call and not Luis Garcia, who has 21 home runs at Las Vegas, because Chen is on the 40-man Major League roster and Garcia is not. Chen will be returned to Las Vegas when Odalis Perez comes off the disabled list. ... Adrian Beltré will miss the final three games before the All-Star break because of a strained right quadriceps muscle, hoping the six days off will take care of the problem. ... Odalis Perez (shoulder inflammation) completed a bullpen session without pain and will throw another one Sunday. The Dodgers hope Perez will be able to pitch during the four-game series against Arizona after the break. ... Cesar Izturis, whose had a .251 batting average last season, finished the game with a .290 average and is seemingly is a star in the making. ... Hideo Nomo played catch for the first time since he was disabled with shoulder problems, but he is weeks away from returning.