Izturis' Leadoff Homer Only Dodger Run in 6-1 Loss

-- The Dodger offense was pretty much shut off after the fourth pitch of the game when shortstop Cesar Izturis banged a 2-1 pitch into the left field seats to leadoff the game. Rookie D.J. Houlton allowed four runs in the first two innings, then settled in and pitched zeros over the next four. Cincinnati catcher Jason LaRue drove in five runs with a pair of homers as Cincinnati derailed the Dodger renaissance 6-1 to split the four-game series.

Brandon Claussen choked off the Dodgers, winning for the first time since June 21. He was 0-4 over his last five starts and sat 15 straight batters down after Milton Bradley singled in the first inning.

Houlton (4-4) was up against the Mets Pedro Martinez and Houston's Roger Clements during July but neither of them shut off the Dodger offense so completely.

Izturis homered in the first to tie the game after Ken Griffey, Jrs. single in the first put the Reds up 1-0.

LaRue banged a one-out homer in the top of the second after a single by Sean Casey and a walk to Rich Aurilia, effectively ended the competition at that point.

But Houlton faced 16 more batters after that and allowed only one more hit. It was his fifth start in July and the Dodgers have lost all five of them after recording a 4-1 record in June.

LaRue added his second homer, number nine on the year, hit a two-run shot in the ninth against Elmer Dessens, completing his first multihomer game of the season.

The Dodgers battled to get the potential tying run to the plate in the sixth after pinch-hitter Oscar Robles, in a 0-for-25 slump, batted for Houlton and was hit by a pitch. Izturis hit into a force at second Los Angeles seemingly had something going after a two-out double to right-center by Antonio Perez. But both runners were stranded when Bradley bounced to third.

Bradley came up again in the eighth with Choi and Perez on base with singles and banged a long shot to the warning track that was caught. Bradley is 4-for-17 with a pair of runs batted in after missing 47 games with a hand injury.

Izturis' homer was his second of the season, both from the leadoff position. The first was against the Giants on opening day, April 5.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Those who wonder about the importants of a quality stopper should consider the fact that Yhency Brazoban has four losses in his last eight appearances and has blown four saves. This isn't a knock on the rookie but if you reverse even half of the losses/saves the Dodgers are right back in the thick of the race. …Four regulars did not start the afternoon after a night game Thursday. Jayson Werth is hobbled by a sore knee, Oscar Robles is in an 0-for-25 slump, Hee-Seop Choi hasn't had a home run since June and Jeff Kent got a much-deserved day off. Manager Jim Tracy started Mike Rose behind the plate, Jason Phillips at first, Antonio Perez at second and Olmedo Saenz at third. …General manager Paul DePodesta is playing things close to the vest as Sunday's trade deadline approaches but many anticipate the acquisition of another arm in the bullpen and an additional bat. But DePodesta did say that trailing by only five games at this point of the season it would not be "out of the realm of possibility" to win the division. …Brad Penny will start for the Dodgers on Friday to open the weekend series with the St. Louis Cardinals.