Dodgers Leave the Bay with NLW Lead

In a game that mirrored the 115-year history of the bitter rivalry, the Dodgers outlasted the Giants 7-4 to win a rare September series in San Francisco. With seven games to play, the Dodgers' magic number is five to win their first division title in nine years. The game featured everything: another home run by light-hitting Alex Cora, a dropped fly ball in center field, an attempted steal of home, an obligatory home run by Barry Bonds as well as a rare strikeout by the slugger.

Jayson Werth slugged a two-run homer (#16) in the first for a brief 2-0 lead and Cora hit his second of the series and 10th of the season to put the Dodgers in front 4-3 in the fifth inning.

Jeff Weaver (13-12) battled throughout the game, allowing a hit in each of his in a six-innings of work but battled his way through and handed a 6-4 lead to the bullpen. He gave up only one earned run over the last five innings he worked and became only the seventh Dodgers starter in the past 17 games to complete five innings.

Duaner Sanchez, Mike Venafro and Giovanni Carrara preserved the lead and the Dodgers handed the ball to Greg Gagné in the eighth. He retired the first five he faced, allowed an infield single to Bonds and a disputed walk but got the clinching strikeout with a changeup and earned his 45th save in 47 attempts.

After Cesar Izturis lived on an error and Werth homered, the Giants used three hits and a walk to tie the game in the first, then take a 3-2 lead in the third on Bonds' 45th homer.

L.A. tied the game in the fourth on Cora's two-out RBI single and took the lead for good when Shawn Green walked -- one of four walks he collected -- with the bases loaded in the fifth.

The surprising Cora launched his second homer of the series in the sixth and the Dodgers made it 6-3 in the seventh when Adrian Beltré singled and raced to third when the ball went through the S.F. right fielder. Milton Bradley's grounder knocked in the run.

Cora let a sharply hit grounder by Bonds get away from him in the seventh after a leadoff single and the Giants closed to 6-4 when the run scored on a ground ball.

Tracy took no chances and called on Gagné to close things out, which he did in classic style. He worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning and mowed down the first two Giants in the ninth. Then Bonds scratched an infield single and Gagné thought he had struck out J.T. Snow on a checked swing 3-2 pitch but the umpire thought differently.

The Dodgers' ace then struck out Deivi Cruz on three pitches to end the presssure-packed 3-hour, 39-minute contest.

The Dodgers finished a clutch, nine-game trip against the Rockies, Padres and Giants with a 5-4 record. They held the same 2 1/2 -game lead they started with and now the dwindling days are working in their favor.

Dodger Blue Notes--The Dodgers play the final week at home, starting Monday with a four-game series against Colorado, while the Giants are off Monday and spend the last week on the road, starting with three games in San Diego.

Matchups for the Colorado Series
Tonight, 7 — Edwin Jackson (2-1, 5.12 ERA) vs. Shawn Estes (15-7, 5.70).
Tuesday, 7 p.m. — Kazuhisa Ishii (13-7, 4.84) vs. Jamey Wright (2-2, 4.33).
Wednesday, 7 p.m. — Odalis Perez (7-6, 3.35) vs. Jeff Francis (3-2, 6.16).
Thursday, 7 p.m. — Jose Lima (13-5, 4.06) vs. Jason Jennings (11-12, 5.69).

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