Dodgers in Houston; Close Again But No Cigar

HOUSTON, Texas--Although the Dodger record has slpped to 40-47 and they trail San Diego and Arizona in the National League race by seven games, they haven't made it easy for any of their opponents. Despite crippling injuries the scores have been competitive most of the time and Saturdays contest in Houston was an example. Facing Roy Oswalt they went into the sixth inning in a 1-1 tie before the Astros scored two and put the game away.

Weaver gave up only two hits through five innings, a solo homer to Orlando Palmero in the second inning and a bloop single in the third. Weaver lasted six innings, giving up five hits and three runs before being removed for a pinch-hitter.

But the Dodger offense had trouble getting a hit at the right time. They outhit Houston 9-7 but left nine men on base.

Trailing 1-0 after Orlando Palmero's first inning home run, Dodgers tied it in the fourth when Jeff Kent led off with a single, the second of his three hits, and moved to second on a balk. With two outs, Hee-Seop Choi scored Kent with a long triple to right center. He was left there when Mike Edwards bounced out to third.

Houston regained the lead for good in the sixth. Craig Biggio singled, went to third on a double by Lance Berkman and scored on a wild pitch. Mike Lamb scored Berkman with a double for what was to be an insurmountable 3-1 lead.

Los Angeles loaded the bases in the seventh off Oswalt with one out on singles by pinch-hitter Ricky Ledee and Oscar Robles and a walk. Houston reliever Chad Qualls came in to pitch to Kent. With an 0-2 count, Qualls wild-pitched a run home to make it 3-2. But Kent and Jayson Werth struck out to end the inning.

Giovanni Carrara allowed a walk, a sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second and a single put runners on first and third in the seventh. A long fly to right boosted the Houston lead to 4-2 and the Dodgers had one small change in the ninth when Ledee walked with one out and moved to second on a wild pitch.

But Robles struck out and pinch-hitter Olmedo Sanenz grounded out to short to end the game.

Quote of the Day: "I've taken all the cutlery out of the food room. We'll be using all plastic knives and forks." -- Dodgers manager Jim Tracy joking that he is doing everything possible to prevent any more injuries to his team

Dodger Blue Notes--First baseman Hee-Seop Choi was named as one of eight participants in the Home Run Derby, scheduled for Monday as part of the All-Star festivities. The event will feature on player from Venezuela, Canada, Curacao, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the United States, in addition to Choi representing South Korea. …Kent's 2,000th hit Friday night made him that number of its in addition to 1,250 RBI, 1,000 runs scored and 450 doubles. …Mike Edwards is almost anonymously making a contribution to the Dodgers since his call up May 4. Going into Saturday's game he was hitting .329 (26-for-79). …Jaime Jarrin, Hall of Fame broadcaster will call his 18th All-Star Game in Spanish along with color commentator Cookie Rojas. …Yhency Brazoban is one save short of the Dodger rookie record of 17 set by Steve Howe in 1980. …Oscar Robles' nine-game hitting streak ended with an 0-for-4 performance Friday but with three hits Saturday, he has 14 hits in his last 28 at bats, a cool .500. Since replacing shortstop Cesar Izturis, he had hit .439 (18-for-41) and is batting .342 going into the final game before the All Star break. …Catcher Jason Phillips, with 37 runs batted in, is third in the National League among catchers, trailing only Mike Matheny (42) and Jorge Posada (39). …Odalis Perez (7-7) will start against the Astros Sunday. He lost his last start 6-1 in Colorado July 5 and will be making his 10th start of 2005, He has never beaten Houston. …The Dodgers lead the all-time series with Houston at Minute Maid Park 8-7. They beat the Astros 5-1 last year, winning both games in Houston.