Kent's 29th Home Run Doesn't Last in 7-4 Loss

PHOENIX, Arizona-- The Dodgers dropped their sixth game in a row, losing on a three-run homer in the 12th inning, after jumping into a 3-0 lead in the first inning. From that point on, for the next 11 innings, they scored only when Ricky Ledee was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Bad news just keeps on comming: It was annoucned that long-time Dodger coach Monty Basgall died in Arizona at age 83.

The 7-4 loss, before the second-smallest crowd of the season (18,808), left them only four games in front of Colorado and unthinkably headed for the third last place finish in the team's 117-year history.

Jeff Kent -- read the Dodger offense -- followed a double ripped into the corner by wonderkinder Willy Aybar and a sacrifice bunt that turned into a hit by a hustling Oscar Robles, by smashing a shot into the left field seats.

It was Kent's 29th homer of the year and his 104th run batted in. The shot was his 28th as a second baseman (erroneously reported yesterday) and tied Davey Lopes Dodger second base record set in 1979.

After that explosion, the Dodgers managed nine more hits, banged into three double plays, left 10 men on base (five in scoring position) and had a runner thrown out at the plate, wasting five shutout innings by three Dodger rookies.

Manager Jim Tracy's plea to keep playing hard in the hopes of finishing in second place, the Dodgers are mired in fourth in a hopelessly inept National League West, with the Rockies four games behind them with 10 games to go for each club.

It was Arizona's 11th win in 19 games with Los Angeles and now hold a two-game lead over last season's division winners following the a three-game sweep.

The seven-game road trip started with a glimmer of hope after a win in San Francisco. But it turned sour with a six-game losing streak, their longest since an eight-game slide from June 14-21.

"At this point, we have lost 11 out of 17, and we have wasted opportunities in all of those 17 games," Dodger General Manager Paul DePodesta said. "That's tough to stomach, especially in September when you're trying to make a run. But we view the season as either you make the playoffs or you don't. Nothing else really much matters."

In the Pollyanna Department, rookie Willy Aybar went 2-for-5, including a first-inning double that gave him six hits in six at-bats and hits in 11 of his 12 starts, and rookies Hong-Chih Kuo, Steve Schmoll and Yhency Brazoban threw five shutout innings.

Jeff Weaver started and couldn't protect the lead Kent provided. Weaver was charged with nine hits and four runs in six innings. Hong-Chih Kuo and Steve Schmoll followed with scoreless innings, then Yhency Brazoban held the Diamondbacks scoreless for a career-high three innings.

It was Brazoban's 101st appearance as a rookie, tying him for fourth in Major League history, and his 70th this season after pitching 31 innings last year.

After Arizona scored three runs in the third inning to tie the game, Los Angeles nearly untied it in the fourth.

Jose Cruz singled to open the inning, then Mike Edwards hit into a double play. The Dodgers may not lead the league in DPs but they must be first in hitting into them at the most inopportune times.

Jason Phillips, catching again because Dioner Navarro is still in Los Angeles with his ill newborn daughter, ripped a single to left and Jason Repko doubled to center.

Phillips, the slowest runner on the team -- perhaps the slowest Dodger runner since Ernie Lombardi in 1937, was nailed at the plate to end the inning.

They finally tied the game 4-4 in the eighth. Kent doubled, Olmedo Saenz walked and Cruz lined out to right field. Edwards walked to load the bases with one out and Ricky Ledee, pinch-hitting for Phillips, was hit by a pitch to knot the game. But Repko, who doubled twice during the game, popped to first and pinch-hitter Mike Rose bounced to first.

In the ninth, Robles singled and Kent walked with one out but Saenz hit into the Dodgers' fourth double play to blunt the final Dodger scoring threat.

After Weaver left in the sixth, Kuo, Schmoll and Brazoban put five zeros on the scoreboard but in the last of the 12th, Duaner Sanchez got the first two Diamondbacks, worked too finely on Tony Clark and walked him. He allowed a single to Shawn Green before throwing a fastball that nearly bounced to low-ball hitter Alex Cintron

Without even a thank you, Cintron golfed the ball into the right field seats, delighting the few fans who stayed for the entire game.

Wilson Alvarez summed it up for all of us when he told, "I've never seen anything like it, everything has gone wrong."

Basgall dies--Monty Basgall, the longtime Dodgers coach credited with creating the record-breaking infield of 1B Steve Garvey (formerly 3B), 2B Davey Lopes, SS Bill Russell (both former outfielders) and Ron Cey, died Thursday in Tucson, Ariz. He was 83. Basgall, who played three seasons with the Pirates, was a Dodgers coach from 1973-1986 under managers Walter Alston and Tom Lasorda.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Duaner Sanchez appeared in his 75th game Thursday, tying Matt Herges and Scott Radinsky for 10th on the franchise single-season list. ... Thursday was the 78th birthday of Dodgers special advisor to the chairman and Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda. ...Brad Penny said the injury that forced him from Wednesday night's start after 10 pitches is minor and unrelated to last year's biceps nerve damage, adding that it shouldn't prevent him from making one more start before the season ends. Tracy said Penny tentatively would start Thursday in Los Angeles against Arizona. …Tracy also announced that Odalis Perez, disabled since Aug. 17 with a strained oblique muscle, would be activated to start Saturday against Pittsburgh. …Rookie Edwin Jackson is tentatively scheduled to make Penny's start Monday night. …Eric Gagne hopes to be healthy in time to pitch for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic in March. However, DePodesta was non-committal about whether the Dodgers would allow that to happen. …Rookie D.J. Houlton (5-9, 5.35 ERA) opens the final homestand of the season Friday when the Dodgers face the Pirates.