Izturis Bails Out Dodgers In 10th Inning

If how you perform in times of adversity are the true test of the mettle of a person , then lately the Dodgers are having to do more character-building than a guest on Dr. Phil's show. Never more so than Friday night in Denver.

Hideo Nomo had once more shown that he's unable to ride to the rescue, being tossed about by the Colorado Rockies who roared to a 6-1 advantage after just two innings at Coors Field. What's more , the Giants were winning 4-1 at home against San Diego so matters were getting out of hand. But if Nomo couldn't do it, the bullpen could with 8 1/3 scorelsss innings capped by another sterling Eric Gagne effort . The hitters also got to work for the first time in awhile and Cesar Izturis provided the winning margin with a two-out , two-run double in the top of the 10th for an 8-6 victory.

The win was absolutely vital as the Giants were victorious for the sixth straight time , riding home in and around No. 700 by you-know-who to remain just 2 1/2 back.

In 1996 , Nomo had thrown a no-hitter here at Coors but then was then. Now, for the second time, the Japanese righthander wasn't up to the task as he went only one and one-third, yielding five hits (including Vinny Castilla's 33rd homer ) and three walks in his abbreviated appearance.

However, the six relief pitchers manager Jim Tracy used were able to contain the Rockies and L.A. was banging away, tieing matters in the sixth when Milton Bradley sent a two-run shot out.

""We just had to win this one, " Bradley said later. "It's time to separate the men from the boys. "

Cliches aside, the Dodgers did some separating , particulary Izturis, who came up iin the 10th with two runners on and two out to rip a 1-0 pitch from Shawn Chacon (1-8) off the scoreboard in right to provide the margin for Gagne (7-3). Eric had K'd the side in the ninth, then proceeded to do it again in the 10th, getting Royce Clayton for the final out with runners on first and second.

Bradley had led off the top of the 10th by walking but Jose Hernandez and Brent Mayne both flied out before Robin Ventura drew another pass to set the stage for Izturis, who already had two hits and one RBI.

"What can you say about Izzy? " commented Shawn Green , " It was just huge." Green himself had previously contributed his 26th home run to get a three-run surge going in the fourth. That rip traveled an estimated 446 feet to right center.

The win means the Dodgers magic figure is 13 with 15 to play for those who care to count.

BLUE NOTES - After the game, Tracy refused to speculate on whether Nomo would make his next scheduled start Wednesday. But before play, Brad Penny threw 50 pitches in a simulated game, looked sharp and pronounced himself ready, giving rise to the notion that he would likely take the mound that night at home agaionst these same Rockies . Meanwhile, Jose Lima has a bruised thumb on his right hand after taking a line drive off it Thursday so will be skipped Sunday. Edwin Jackson is scheduled to replace him then.