Bradley's Bomb + Bullpen Beat Braves

ATLANTA, Georgia-- What bullpen problems? Jeff Weaver battled through six innings, giving up four runs, and Milton Bradley's rocket into the right field seats with two on in the fourth inning gave the Dodgers a 7-4 lead. Then they turned it over to Elmer Dessens, Giovanni Carrara and Duaner Sanchez, who each threw a perfect inning to nail the victory. San Diego's loss cut their lead over L.A. four and the fat lady isn't even standing up, let alone singing.

The Dodgers victory handed Atlanta their first losing series since the All Star break and they headed for Florida after winning their seventh game in the last dozen. Perhaps that don't look like a very impressive winning streak but in the N.L. West, it's huge.

As an example, San Diego has 26041 over the last 67 games and still leads the league.

Weaver, 11-8 and 3-0 against the Braves, allowed 10 hits over his six innings of work, taking a 7-1 lead into the sixth before Oscar Robles made his third error of the season and Weaver gave up bombs to Andruw Jones and Adam LaRoche, making it a game again.

After Bradley's 420-foot shot just inside the right field foul pole, the Dodgers offense was stymied by a strong effort out of the Braves pen and sparkling play at third base by Chipper Jones.

They managed three hits after the home run; Jason Werth doubled with one out in the fifth and stole second but stayed there. Jose Cruz doubled to lead off the eighth and with one out and Cruz on third, Jones ranged to his left, froze the runner and tossed out Hee Seop Choi. Cesar Izturis dropped a perfect bunt down the third base line and Jones made a Beltre-like pickup and throw to nail the runner and prevent the run.

But that was all academic due to the perfect bullpen work, with Sanchez earning his second save of the series with a 1-2-3 ninth.

The Dodgers scored twice in the first when Olmedo Saenz doubled to score Bradley (who had walked) and Jeff Kent (who had singled). Atlanta scored on three singles in the second.

Then came the delightful fourth inning with the Dodgers presenting their best imitation of the 1977 Dodger powerhouse.

Werth drew a walk and Cruz shot a single under the first baseman's glove into right for his first hit, ending an 0-for-10 in Dodger Blue. Dioner Navarro singled to right field, scoring the first run and Weaver popped a bunt past the losing pitcher John Thompson that went for a hit and kept the bases loaded.

Izturis popped out but Robles hit a sac fly to make it 4-1. Then Bradley unloaded to run the margin to 7-1. The Dodgers scored five of their seven runs with two out.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Odalis Perez said he pulled something in his side warming up before the game in Atlanta Wednesday night, causing some decrease in his ability to drive off the mound. However he also said, "I don't think that's any excuse not to perform." …Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta was lavish with his praise after a scouting trip through the organization's minor-league system and watching the Jacksonville Suns. He noted that "because of the depth of talent and the age of that talent, I honestly believe that a double-digit number of players off that team are going to make it to the big leagues, and it may be comfortably into double digits." The squad includes infielders Joel Guzman, Andy LaRoche and James Loney, catcher Russell Martin and pitchers Chad Billingsley, Edwin Jackson and Greg Miller. Jonathan Broxton was with the Suns until July 29 and then the 21-year-old right-hander was promoted to The Show. …Jose Valentin has had a touch time at the plate since returning from the Disabled list. Valentin, 35, hit .194 (13 for 67) with 12 RBI in 24 games before he tore ligaments in his right knee and is batting .136 (6 for 44) since he returned July 31 with one RBI in 13 games. …On the other side of the coin, Jayson Werth is 6-for-11 over his last three games, after working with batting coach Tim Wallach to correct what Werth termed "a leak in his swing". Must have got it patched. …Davey Johnson, former Dodger manager, was named manager of the United States team in the 18-nation World Cup in the Netherlands. Dodger Manager Jim Tracy, who began his Dodger career as Davey Johnson's bench coach in 1999, said he was delighted that Johnson got the job and said he would have to call him and see if he needed a coach. Former Dodger reliever Scott Radinsky will be the U.S. pitching coach for the World Cup. …Duaner Sanchez's 62 appearances through Wednesday ties him for second in the Majors. ... Cesar Izturis is batting .348 (24-for-69) in close and late-game situations (a tie game or when the team is within one run in the seventh inning or later) this season. ... Rookie Oscar Robles ranks third among all National League rookies with a .370 on-base percentage.

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