Dodger Battery Powers Astro Victory

Paul Lo Duca was apparently so delighted to make the All-Star team that he went right into his Roy Campanella impression, slugging homers right and left, driving in important runs, and winning games for his team. Lo Duca hit hits first career grand slam as the Dodgers beat the Houston Astros, 7-4, before 40,484 fans at Dodger Stadium. The ubiquitous Jose Lima provided a clutch pitching performance as Los Angeles closed the first half with a victory.

The Dodgers have won 11 of their last 14 games and remains one-half game ahead of the San Francisco Giants in the National League West as the teams break for the All-Star Game in Houston.

Lima, a 31-year-old right-hander, allowed five hits and two runs, walked one and struck out four in six strong innings. He improved to 4-1 in his last six starts — all at Dodger Stadium. Darren Dreifort and Guillermo Mota each pitched a scoreless inning before Tom Martin gave up a two-run home run in the top of the ninth.

It appeared for a time that the crowd would see Eric Gagné in the ninth because the Dodgers were hanging on to a 3-2 lead, but Lo Duca, who also had a single and a double, hit the first pitch he saw in the eighth for a grand slam to put the game on ice.

The Dodgers scored single runs in the first and third innings. Cesar Izturis singled to left with one out in the first and moved over to third on a grounder to second by Lo Duca. Shawn Green singled to center, scoring Izturis for a 1-0 lead.

Jeff Kent handed the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the third when Lo Duca, who had singled leading off and moved to second on Green's single, scored when Kent lost a popup in the sun and Werth was credited with a single and an RBI.

The Astros tied the game 2-2 off Lima in the sixth but Werth opened the Dodgers sixth inning with a single. Robin Ventura walked and with one out Jose Hernandez lined a single to center scoring Werth with the go-ahead run.

The Dodgers went into the All-Star break at 48-38s. It's only the second time they've been in first place at the break since 1994.