Dodgers Score Four Late Runs to Win 6-4

When Manager Jim Tracy's Dodgers, who have averaged 1.88 runs during an eight-game losing streak, fell behind 2-0 in the first inning, it must have been very disconcerting. Then when Jeff Kent was thrown out at third base in the top of the sixth and was ejected from the game after a heated nose-to-nose argument with the umpire at third base, it seemed like a familiar script. But L.A. caught fire at that point and scored four times for their first win since June 12, a 6-4 comeback victory.

Whether Kent used what he considered a terrible call at third to jar the Dodgers out of their rut, is not exactly known, nor did the Dodger second baseman claim the explosion was at least semi-staged.

But he did say after the game, "Most of the things I have done in my career were for a purpose. Whether this one helped or not, I don't know."

The inning started when Antonio Perez was sent to pinch-hit for Hee-Seop Choi, with Saenz on first and Kent on second, and ordered to bunt. Perez had demonstrated repeatedly during the road trip that bunting was sort of like trigonometry, you either could do it or you couldn't.

Perez dropped a bunt that Tracy later called "terrific," but the pitcher fielded the ball and threw to third, obviously too late for the force play but the umpire called Kent out. TV replays seemed to show he had blown the call.

A call that was not only painful but crushing to a struggling team became even more painful when the umpire told Kent he had anticipated the play, had heard the play and didn't Kent hear it.

Following Kent's protestation and the resulting ejection, a team that couldn't buy a run in the previous eight games, scored four times in the last in four innings after Kent was excused for the rest of the game.

In a late rally that reflected just such a tendency throughout the 2004 season and during the early games of 2005, saw Jason Phillips walk to load the bases and Jason Grabowski hit was appeared to be a simple double play ball to the second baseman, only to see it bounce off his glove and into the shortstop's hands for a force play.

But it did destroy all chance for an inning-ending double play and allowed Olmedo Saenz to gallop home from third.

The revitalized Dodgers another pair runs in the eighth, one on a double by Saenz and the other on a single by Antonio Perez, then add a sixth run in the ninth, on an infield single by struggling Cesar Izturis, an wild pickoff throw and a two-out, RBI double by Jayson Werth, a ball that was poorly played by former Dodger Dave Roberts, gave closer Yhency Brazoban some valuable breathing room.

Four Jasons were in the lineup with Werth banging his first home run of the season, then adding a double and a single; Phillips doubling in two runs and Grabowski driving home another but Repko was hitless.

The six runs were one shy of the Dodgers' total over the previous five games.

The Dodgers collected 12 hits, including four with runners in scoring position and Werth's first home run of the season. Werth and Saenz each had three hits and Saenz scored three runs while boosting his average to .313.

Houlton (3-1) and two other rookies were among the five pitchers Tracy used. Houlton battled for five innings but got the win. He also had won the club's last win some nine games earlier, a period of time that seemed like a month.

Franquelis Osoria followed with 1.1 scoreless innings, and Yhency Brazoban pitched a scoreless ninth for his 12th save. Kelly Wunsch and Duaner Sanchez filled out the members of the winning staff with Sanchez avoiding disaster with a Gold Glove play with the bases-loaded by Cesar Izturis and four solid innings of relief from their bullpen.

The third-place Dodgers (34-37), who were perhaps trying too hard the past 10 days, pulled within 5 1/2 games of the division-leading Padres a big difference over the 7 1/2 game deficit that would have resulted with a loss.

Dodger Blue Notes--Outfielder J.D. Drew underwent an MRI to find the cause of soreness in his left knee. Drew was diagnosed with chondromalacia, a condition in the lining of the cartilage that isn't serious but can be painful. He said has felt pain in the knee three to four weeks, but said it has gotten worse lately. …The Dodgers might trim their pitching staff to 11 for the first time this season by this weekend. Club officials wanted to wait until after consecutive starts by rookie D.J. Houlton and recently activated Elmer Dessens, because there was a question of how deep either might be able to pitch. ... Dodgers minor-league third baseman Andy LaRoche and catcher Russell Martin, both at Double-A Jacksonville (Fla.), have been selected to play in the All-Star Futures Game in Detroit on July 10. ... The Dodgers have signed their fifth-round draft choice, right-hander John Meloan of the University of Arizona. …Third-base coach Glenn Hoffman, still feeling the effects of a concussion eight days after being struck in the ear by a line drive during batting practice, was sent back to the hotel before Wednesday night's game feeling ill. Bench coach Jim Lett continued to fill in for Hoffman at third base.