Perez Homer Trips Padres 4-2

--Baseball is a strange animal. To prove that point consider this: during a season beset by injuries to everyone but the ground crew and with strange bounces cropping up almost daily, most of which go against the Dodgers, and using the 2005 games as a guide -- had Los Angeles played only San Diego every day this season, they would be enjoying a winning percentage of .667 (52-26) with a 13-game lead over Arizona since their 4-2 in gave them a 12-8 lead in the series.

The problem is they have to play other teams, too.

The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the second when Jeff Kent doubled and scored on Jayson Werth's one-out single. The Padres tied it in the fifth.

Jeff Weaver started the deciding inning with a single, his eighth hit of the season. Izturis followed with a bunt that went for a hit when the Padres infield couldn't decide who should cover first. Antonio Perez, who probably cost Weaver a victory in his last start by misplaying a popup, showed bunt twice but took the pitches. Then he slammed a 2-0 pitch over the center field fence and the Dodgers took the rubber game of the three-game series.

It was Perez's second homer of the year and the fourth in his career.

The victory, just the fourth in 16 games for the Dodgers, again moved them within 5 1/2 games of the NL West-leading Padres.

The strange National League West -- read weak -- is still up for grabs. Despite going 11-16 in June, the Dodgers actually gained a game since June 1 on first-place San Diego, who stumbled to a 10-17 record.

Whatever had infected the Dodgers was, at least for one game, passed on to San Diego. They mishandled Jeff Kent's drive into a double that cost them one run. They failed to cover first on Cesar Izturis' bunt -- breaking an 0-for-21 skid -- and fouled up a double play ball.

Weaver (7-7) pitched into the eighth inning and allowed six hits and one run in 7.1 innings while walking three and striking out five. He has pitched six or more innings in each of his last seven starts and in 13 of his 17 this season.

He has had but one win since May 29, and was charged with only one earned run into the eighth before Kelly Wunsch closed out the inning. He got some help when a ground ball hit a Padre runner to kill a chance to get back in the game.

Yhency Brazoban worked the ninth for his 15th save in 18 chances, despite allowing an RBI double.

Kent went 3-for-4 to raise his batting average to .303 and give him 1,995 hits in his career. He went 7-for-12 in the three-game series.

Dodger Blue Notes--Weaver said talks have begun on an contract extension. The Dodgers recently gave one to Brad Penny for three years. …It was decided that Odalis Perez should make one more Minor League rehabilitation start at Las Vegas instead of sliding back into the rotation on Sunday. His first start back will be on Tuesday night in Colorado, where Perez is 0-3 with an 8.81 ERA in his last three starts. …Manager Jim Tracy said Hoffman, out of action since being hit in the ear by a line drive during batting practice in Kansas City, could rejoin the club by Friday but likely won't go back to coaching box until after the All-Star break. …After a day of Thursday, Brad Penny starts for the Dodgers against Arizona on Friday. Penny is 3-0 with a 1.51 ERA against Arizona lifetime. He is coming off a 3-1 loss to the Angels and is 2-1 at home this year.