Dodgers Miss Another Chance to Move Up

The Dodgers continued to be a clutch hit away from a winning team, squandering chances Sunday until the Cardinals, about to miss their plane, scored twice in the 11th inning on a Jim Edmonds home run and won the rubber game of the series 7-5. The Dodgers could not turn the 10 walks they received into runs -- only one of them scored. St. Louis recevied nine bases on balls and four of them were converted into runs.

After a slow start that saw St. Louis build 3-0 and 5-2 leads, only to see Ricky Ledee line a two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game 5-5.

Then they loaded the bases in the ninth with one out, only to see Olmedo Saenz bounced into a double play to end their final threat. By the last of the 11th they had exhausted all available pinch-hitters, using the final one available, Jason Phillips, in the 10th and leaving him in the game in case he was needed behind the plate, and called on Jeff Weaver to hit for Giovanni Carrara.

Symbolic of the season, he struck out.

Odalis Perez came into the game with a horrid record against the Cardinals but, with one exception, pitched well while working into the eighth.

His control was never just right during the afternoon, and in the top of the fourth with the dodgers leading 1-0, he walked a pair to lead off the inning, then Mark Grudzielanek slugged a shot into the seats.

Cesar Izturis doubled home Jason Repko, who had singled, in the third inning for the short-lived Dodger lead. In the fifth Jose Valentin, just off the DL, singled, moved to second on a walk and scored when Repko flew out to right field and the return throw to the infield was wild, allowing Valentin to score.

It went 3-2 into the sixth when the Dodgers had another chance to fight back into the game. Milton Bradley led off with a walk but was promptly erased on a double play struck by Jeff Kent.

Saenz walked, Valentin doubled and rookie Dioner Navarro drew the first of his three walks to load the bases. Ledee went to 3-2, then struck out swinging.

The Cardinals finally got to Perez after a two-out walk with a runner at first in the seventh allowed the Cardinals to pinch-hit Edmonds, who slugged a two-run double.

Perez allowed a Cardinal team that came into the game 65-38 -- some 18 1/2 games ahead of the Dodgers 47-57 record, only four hits but he walked four to tip the balance in the visitor's favor.

Steve Schmoll allowed another run in the eighth and Dodger fans started leaving for their long and unhappy trip home.

After Kent fanned, Saenz doubled but Valentin bounced to first base for the second out. Navarro displayed the talents GM Paul DePodesta likes about him when he worked the count to 3-2, then walked.

Ledee, giving a second chance, banged his fourth homer of the year to tie the game. Making the people who had left the game and were listening on the radio wonder why they hadn't stayed.

Yhency Brazoban disposed of St. Louis in the top of the ninth, then the Dodgers nearly pulled the game out of the bag in the bottom of the inning.

Izturis dropped a beautiful bunt down the third base line and beat it out. Oscar Robles, still locked in a desperate slump, worked a walk and the Dodgers called on their number 3 hitter, Milton Bradley, to bunt them into scoring position.

The decision was questioned after the game when the Cardinals walked Kent to load the bases and with the infield in, Saenz bounced into a routine double play to end the Dodgers final chance of the afternoon.

Brazoban squirmed out of a bases-loaded one-out mess in the 10th by throwing a double play ball and hopes revived -- but for only a short time.

Wilson Alvarez, who is so frustrated with a bad shoulder that he's considering retirement, got the first out of the 11th inning, then walked Abraham Nunez and Jim Edmonds, not minding the lefty on lefty situation, got a ball out over the plate and hit it into the centerfield seats.

Wilson's had him on the disabled list twice already this year. He's pitched only 22 innings this season, and has a bloated 5.73 ERA, allowing seven home runs while lefties have feasted on him to the tune of a .370 average.

With Kelly Wunsch out for the season, the club hoped Alvarez could be the situational left-handed specialist, but over his last five appearances, he's allowed five hits to 10 batters.

The Dodgers (miraculously) remains four games behind both the Padres and Diamondbacks who are now tied at the top of the N.L. West.

Dodger Blue Notes-- As expected, the Dodgers activated infielder Jose Valentin who had been disabled since May 4 with torn knee ligaments. Jayson Werth, hobbled with an inflamed bursa sac, was placed on the DL. He will need offseason surgery to remove the damaged knee. Valentin was hitting only .194 with two homers and 12 RBI when he was injured in a home-plate collision and must play with a brace on his right knee. Werth, who has had a tough season after missing the first two months of the season with a broken wrist, was hitting .241 with five homers and 25 RBI. …Jim Tracy announced that Derek Lowe, originally slated to pitch Thursday night in Washington, will get an extra day to allow a blister on his thumb time to heal. D.J. Houlton will pitch Wednesday night, followed by Brad Penny on Thursday night. The surprise pinch-hitter, Jeff Weaver, starts for the Dodgers on Tuesday night in Washington.