Lima Pitches, Cheers Dodgers to Series Sweep

Veteran righthander Jose Lima gave up a home run on the first pitch Sunday, but that was the last time the Diamondbacks had anything to smile about as the Dodgers and Lima got the last laugh in a 10-3 victory and a first-ever four-game sweep in Arizona. Lima (9-3) allowed nine hits over eight innings and retired 11 in a row at one point in an eight-inning outing. He was helped by a homer and a single from Cesar Izturis, plus four RBI, and a homer and a single from Adrian Beltré.

In his 11th season of a major-league career that seemed to be dead in the water early last spring, Lima has become the heart of the club, taking over the position of tour director, cheerleader, moral builder and music coordinator while continually pointing out that they are men playing a boys game.

In a once-fractured clubhouse, his worth is inestimable.

"He has been great. He's the biggest cheerleader we have, obviously. He gets guys up, and he wants to win so bad. I think his attitude has rubbed off on a lot of guys. He has definitely helped this clubhouse, for sure. But he also has pitched well, and that helps, too."--Shawn Green, speaking about Jose Lima.

Duaner Sanchez finished off the Diamondbacks, who played the Dodgers seven times over the past 14 days and lost all of them.

The Dodgers have not only stayed in the race in the face of numerous injuries, they now lead the second-place Giants by 2 1/2 games (4 in the loss column), their biggest lead in a month. They improved to 15-3 in their last 18 games to move a season-high 14 games over .500 at 52-38.

Despite the leadoff home run, the Dodgers took advantage of a number ofDiamondback mistakes that resulted in five unearned runs, built a 8-2 lead after four and sailed home easily.

Cesar Izturis homered and tripled to drive in a career-high four runs, and Jayson Werth, who may be back on the bench when Juan Encarnacion returns from the disabled list, came up a homer short of a cycle and had four hits.

Adrian Beltré returned to the starting lineup was in obvious pain as he limped around the bases on his 23rd home run, setting a new single-season total. Milton Bradley doubled and singled, Dave Roberts scored three times and stole two bases. Six Dodgers scored runs and six drove in runs as they pounded 15 hits in their sixth consecutive victory and seventh in a row against the team with the major league's worst record.

The Dodgers regained the lead in the second with consecutive singles by Werth, Alex Cora and David Ross to load the bases with no outs. Roberts' fielder's choice grounder pushed across the tying run and with two out and two on, Izturis worked a 10-pitch at-bat, punctuated by a shot into the right-field seats for his second home run.

Arizona cut the lead to 4-2 the a fourth inning but the Dodgers blew it open with a four-run fourth that included triples by Izturis and Werth. Beltré's homer in the eighth ended the scoring.

The Dodgers nearly had two players hit for the cycle. Izturis hit a homer in his second at-bat, tripled in his third but then went hitless in his final three. Werth singled, doubled and tripled in his first three at-bats. He singled and struck out in his final two. Werth is batting .365 with six homers and 17 RBI in 19 starts.

Dodger Blue Notes--Hideo Nomo is in a throwing-and-exercise program but said he did not know when he would face batters or make a rehabilitation start. Nomo went on the disabled list July 1 because of inflammation of his right rotator cuff. The right-hander went 0-9 with an 8.80 ERA in his last 10 starts, and his fastball was consistently clocked in the low 80s from the windup. ... Beltré boosted his average to .322 after going 4-for-6 in the final two games of the series. ... Reliever Paul Shuey, who underwent hip surgery in the off-season, may miss the remainder of the season because of hip pain. ... Juan Encarnacion is eligible to return from the disabled list on Monday. He said his shoulder continues to improve. That means less playing time for Jayson Werth, batting .333 with six home runs and 16 RBI in 18 starts. Encarnacion is hitting .240, but has hit 12 homers and driven in 41 runs. ... Rumors of Dodger interest in Carlos Beltran and Mark Sweeney continued to circulate. ... Robin Ventura, whose two-run pinch-homer in the ninth won the third game of the series, has hinted that this might be his final season as a player. Ventura is 8-for-25 as a pinch-hitter. ... Giovanni Carrara has pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings in five appearances since being promoted from Triple-A.

Series matchups--The Dodgers travel to Houston for the final two games of the road trip before opening a five game homestand against Colorado and San Diego. Matchups:
Tonight -- Wilson Alvarez (4-3, 3.51 ERA) vs. Brandon Duckworth (1-2, 7.53)
Tuesday, 5 p.m. — Jeff Weaver (6-9, 4.25) vs. Pete Munro (1-2, 4.45).