It's 21 for Nomar And 3-1 for the Dodgers

The Dodgers scored twice in the first inning and Aaron Sele allowed four hits and a single run over six innings, sparking a 3-1 victory over the Giants, evening the final series before the All-Star break and keeping them within distance of the San Diego Padres in the National League West.

It's funny how things work out. Sele was checked out during spring training and with his 6-12, 5.66 record in mind obviously carrying some weight, was found wanting.

He agreed to pitch in Las Vegas for a month to see if a spot would open up for him. It didn't and he almost walked away from the team before he finally got the call.

And when he won his sixth game of the year Sunday, lowering his ERA to 2.91, exactly the same as All-Star Brad Penny, one must wonder where the Dodgers would be without him.

The staff has been in flux all season long. of the 12 pitchers the Dodgers started the season with, only four - Penny, Derek Lowe, Odalis Perez and Danys Baez - remain.

Sele's opponent was Giants ace Jason Schmidt who came into the game with a career mark of 11-8 with a 3.77 ERA in 30 appearances against Dodgers. Sele, on the other hand, came in 1-1 with a 5.00 ERA in three starts against the Giants.

This day Sele was spectacular, allowing a pair of hits over the first four innings before getting into, and out of, a jam in the fifth that cost him a run.

The Dodgers gave him a pair of runs in the first inning when Rafael Furcal beat out an infield hit to shortstop and scored when Cesar Izturis slugged a long double to right center. He moved up on a fly, then scored on another fly by Andre Ethier.

Sele escaped the bases-loaded problem in the fifth with just one run scoring, then worked a 1-2-3 sixth and left the game for a pinch-hitter having allowed four hits and collected seven strikeouts.

After leading Jose Cruz, who had tripled, on third base in the fourth and Russell Martin, who had doubled, in the fifth, L.A. scored their final run in the sixth.

Nomar Garciaparra lined a single to center, running his hitting streak to 21 consecutive games, and Ethier moved him into scoring position by drawing a walk.

With one out, Cruz got his second hit of the game, a line single to right that scored Garciaparra and boosted the Dodger lead to 3-1.

Brad Penny, who will pitch in the All-Star Game Tuesday, came in for his first relief appearance of the season and walked the first batter he faced. He got the next out on a long fly to left but Steve Finley (him again) pinch-hit for Schmidt and singled.

Lefty Joe Beimel was called in and got the second out but gave up a single that loaded the bases to former Dodger Jose Vizcaino.

Enter Danys Baez who got Moises Alou to hit into a force play at second to end the threat and then sailed 1-2-3 through the eighth inning, mowing down the heart of the Giants' order- Barry Bonds, Ray Durham and Pedro Feliz.

Takashi Saito earned his eighth save by retiring the side in the ninth in order.

The Giants lead the all-time series -- dating back to 1890 --with a 1,137 - 1,103 record. The Dodgers have the edge in games at Dodger Stadium, however, with a 210-171 record. The traditional rivals face each other nine more times in the regular season this year.
  Score by innings
San Francisco 000 010 000-3
Los Angeles   200 001 00x-3

  Dodgers      ab r h bi ave
Furcal, SS      4 1 1 0  .267
Izturis, 3B     4 1 1 1  .286
Garciaparra, 1B 4 1 1 0  .358
Ethier, LF      1 0 0 1  .352
Kemp, CF        4 0 0 0  .281
Cruz, RF        3 0 2 1  .245
 Baez, P        0 0 0 0  .000
 Saenz, PH      1 0 0 0  .298
 Saito, P       0 0 0 0  .000
Martinez, 2B    3 0 0 0  .328
Martin, C       3 0 1 0  .289
Sele, P         1 0 1 0  .222
 Penny, P       0 0 0 0  .243
 Beimel, P      0 0 0 0  .000
 Drew, RF       1 0 0 0  .287
   Totals      29 3 7 3  
   Giants      33 1 6 1   

  2B- Izturis (3), Martin (12). 3B- 
Cruz (1). RBI- Izturis (7), Ethier 
(32), Cruz (16). S- Sele. SF- 
Ethier. LOB- San Francisco 8, 
Los Angeles 6. SB- Ethier (3).

  Dodgers     in h r-er bb so era
Sele (W, 6-2) 6.0 4 1 1 2 7 0 2.91
Penny         0.1 1 0 0 1 0 0 2.91
Beimel        0.1 1 0 0 0 0 0 3.27
Baez          1.1 0 0 0 0 1 0 3.83
Saito (Sv, 8) 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2.14
  T- 2-45. Att- 41,849.
Dodger Blue Notes--First-round draft choice Clayton Kershaw will be honored as the Gatorade National High School Athlete of the Year. Baseball America selected him national player of the year. He is also nominated for an ESPY award for the top prep athlete. …Toby Hall had three hits and drove in three runs Saturday in his first start as a Dodger at Dodger Stadium. Acquired from Tampa Bay on June 27 along with pitcher Mark Hendrickson, Hall said after the game that his agent already is talking with the Dodgers about finding a team where he can play more. Hall, a six-year veteran, was the Devil Rays' everyday catcher. But with rookie Russell Martin the clear future of the team behind the plate, Hall had only five at-bats until Saturday. Hall was not bitter in his assessment of the situation, praising Martin and calling him "the real deal." He did say, however, that his brief tenure here has been less than ideal because of the situation. …According to Sports Illustrated, Oakland A's star left-hander Barry Zito, who's expected to be the top young starting pitcher on the free-agent market this winter, has hired high-powered agent Scott Boras to represent him. That means they will be looking for a long-term contract at $15 million per. ... Dodgers 2B Jeff Kent sat out his sixth game because of a strained muscle in his left side, and CF Kenny Lofton missed his second game due to tightness in his right hamstring.

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