Beltré's Home Run Dumps Astros 7-5

The delightful beat goes on: trailing early, retaking the lead, sending in the 'game over' bullpen crew and smiling -- smiling a lot. The Dodgers winning streak reached eight with a 7-5 win after trailing 4-1 in the seventh. Paul Lo Duca's two-run single pulled the Dodgers within a run, and then Adrian Beltré slammed a two-run homer — his team-leading 25th — to give the Dodgers a 5-4 lead. L.A. added two insurance runs in the eighth on Beltré's run-scoring single and Milton Bradley's groundout.

Beltré is leading the team with a .326 batting average and 63 runs batted in. In his last 29 games, he is batting .404 with 10 homers and 24 RBI. One sometimes wonders what became of all the people that were certain he would never amount to much and who wanted to trade him for Tripp Cromer?

The Dodgers flew home with a 6-0 road trip, getting three hits and three RBI from Beltré, three RBI from Lo Duca and three hits from Cesar Izturis, who needed a homer for the cycle, as part of a 12-hit attack. Izzy extended his hitting streak to 10 games with his second straight three-hit night.

The last time the Dodgers opened the second half at 6-0 was in 1988. Correct me if my memory is wrong, but wasn't that a special year?

"Beltré, Lo Duca, Izturis. Six runs batted in between Beltré and Lo Duca, a great offensive performance again tonight from Cesar Izturis, and a huge home run from Beltré. It's a fantastic road trip. It's a great way to start the second half of the season and a tremendous momentum builder."--Manager Jim Tracy.

The Astros tagged starter and winner Jeff Weaver (7-9) for three runs in the first inning, one of them unearned. He allowed seven hits and threw 100 pitches in six innings. After the game he said he was too strong but when he tired, the movement returned on his pitches.

Weaver probably thought he had again been forgotten by the Los Angeles offense but things began to happen when Jason Grabowski doubled while pinch-hitting for the right-hander to start the seventh.

Dave Roberts was hit by a pitch and Izturis lined out to the shortstop who threw wildly in an attempt to double off Grabowski, allowing both runners to advance. Paul Lo Duca followed with a bloop single to center that scored two, cutting Houston's lead to 4-3.

There came Beltré.

There went the Houston lead.

Relievers Tom Martin and Darren Dreifort combined for a 1-2-3 seventh inning and the Dodgers added two more in the eighth, one on a Beltré single.

Guillermo Mota gave up a solo homer in the eighth, and Eric Gagné worked the final 1.1 innings for his 27th save in 28 opportunities. He overpowered the Astros, striking out the side, after allowing a leadoff double in the ninth.

Of the six wins on this trip, the Dodgers trailed after six innings in one game, trailed after seven innings in three others and trailed after eight innings in yet another. The Dodgers now have won a season-best eight in a row, 14 of their past 15 and 17 of their past 20.

The Dodgers (54-38) moved a season-high 16 games over .500. However, both San Francisco and San Diego won again to remain 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 games behind the Dodgers, respectively.

Dodger Blue Notes--When was the last time you saw a Dodger lineup this late in the season that included three .300 hitters? Cesar Izturis (.300), Paul Lo Duca (.306), Adrian Beltré (.326) plus Milton Bradley (.290) and Alex Cora (.297) are available for Jim Tracy's scorecard tonight against Colorado. ... Los Angeles hit four homers in the final two wins at Houston, raising its season total to 105, seventh best in the National League. Last year, the Dodgers hit only 124 homers the whole season. ... Right-hander Edwin Jackson is eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday, but probably won't be ready by then according to Tracy. Jackson was placed on the DL July 17, retroactive to July 9, with a strained right forearm. Wilson Alvarez (4-3), who started Monday against Houston, will probably start again Saturday versus San Diego. ... Shawn Green is batting .318 with two home runs and seven runs batted in in six games since the All-Star break. ... Tonight's starter, Kazuhisa Ishii, is among the National League leaders in walks, but he leads the staff in victories at 11-4 with a 3.94 earned-run average. He has won three of his last four starts. ... Hideo Nomo, who has been on the 15-day DL since July 1 with right rotator cuff inflammation, played long toss for the first time Tuesday, at times throwing out of his stretch motion. Pitching coach Jim Colborn said the session went well

Pitching matchups with the Rockies:
Tonight — Kaz Ishii (11-4, 3.94) vs Shawn Estes (9-4, 5.05).
Thursday, noon — Odalis Perez (4-3, 2.91) vs. Aaron Cook (4-4, 5.05).