Late Homers Give Dodgers Seventh Straight Win

The <i>Hero De Jure</i> tour continues successfully for the rejuvenated Dodgers as Milton Bradley and Shawn Green hit home runs in the eighth inning to steal a 7-6 victory over Houston and extend their winning streak to a season-high seven games. Bradley tied the game 6-6 in the eighth with a towering home run, his career-high 10th, to open the inning, then Shawn Green followed with another homer that bounced off the top of the right field wall and into the stands.

Adrian Beltré hit his 24th homer in the second inning, a 406-foot shot to make it 1-0 Los Angeles.

The Astros answered with three in the bottom of the second to lead 3-1, scoring two on Cora's third error this season, during a rundown between first and second.

Houston apparently appreciated the error and returned the favor in the Dodgers' four-run sixth. Beltré walked to open the inning and Bradley reached on a throwing error by the pitcher. Green grounded out, scoring Beltré. Juan Encarnacion singled to left, scored Bradley and promptly stole second. Cora singled to score Encarnacion with one out, and moved to second on the Astros' second error of the inning. Cora stole third and with two out, Izturis singled for the fourth run.

Starter Wilson Alvarez pitched 5.2 innings, leaving with a 5-3 lead, two out and a runner on first. But Giovanni Carrara (2-0) was tagged for a soft single and a not-so-soft three-run homer to give the Astros a 6-5 lead. Carrara then got the next four hitters, striking out the final two.

Setup man Guillermo Mota worked a scoreless eighth, and Eric Gagné took over in the ninth. The first Astro slugged a ball 400 feet to dead center that was run down by Bradley. Gagné retired the next two batters for his 26th save in 27 opportunities. Of the shot to deep to center, Gagné smiled and said "Just an F-8."

The Dodgers (53-38) moved a season-high 15 games over .500 and have won 16 of their last 19 games. They maintained a 2 1/2-game lead over second-place San Francisco and go for the sweep of a six-game trip tonight against Houston (45-47), fifth in the NL Central.

Shuey out for the season--Dodgers reliever Paul Shuey, who hasn't pitched all season because of a ruptured tendon in his right thumb and problems with his surgically repaired right hip, will undergo a third operation on the hip and will not pitch again this season or perhaps much of the 2005 season for that matter. ... Juan Encarnacion was activated from the 15-day disabled list and returned to the starting lineup. Outfielder Chin-Feng Chen was optioned to Las Vegas to clear a roster spot. ... The Dodgers will go with a four-man rotation of outfielders, with either Dave Roberts, Encarnacion, Jayson Werth or Bradley sitting on any given day.

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