Happy Birthday, Joe; Dodgers move into first

It's difficult to find a birthday cake with 68 candles on it, so the Dodgers instead gave manager Joe Torre four home runs and an 11-inning, 8-7 win over Arizona. With the temperature 106 outside the park, the action inside was nearly as hot. James Loney' long home run and a save by Jonathan Broxton, moved the club into a first place tie with the Diamondbacks.

The season-high power display included a pair of longballs by Nomar Garciaparra and one each from Matt Kemp and Loney, and flew in the face of the fact that the Dodgers are second to last in the National League in home runs.

It was Garciaparra's first multi-homer game in nearly six years as the Dodgers won their second straight to pull into a first-place tie for the third time in the last 11 days.

But in a profession already packed with tension, the players don't want to put any more on themselves. They insisted it is too early to consider this series crucial. "It's still early," Garciaparra said. "We have to just focus on winning games."

"The only time to be in first place is at the end," Torre said. "But we certainly need to come out this second half and play every series tough. To win a game like this on the road is really impressive. We lost a couple of extra-inning games at home, and it really takes the wind out of your sails."

The teams combined for seven runs on nine hits, two walks and three errors in the first inning as the Diamondbacks took a 4-3 lead.

Loney's home run was the Dodgers' third solo shot over the final five innings in a game they seemed on the verge of putting away in the first inning. Kemp had singled and Andre Ethier and Russell Martin doubled before Jeff Kent walked and Garciaparra singled in the third Dodgers run of the inning and moved to second on an outfielder error.

With runners on second and third an no one out, it looked like a big inning until Loney grounded into an unusual double play, third to first and then to home to catch Garciaparra. Andruw Jones struck out to end the inning.

Four singles and Jones' error allowed Arizona not only back into the game but into a 4-3 lead. They increased their lead to 6-3 in the second and Los Angeles spent the rest of the nine innings tying the game.

"You never know what to expect coming out of the break," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre, and might have said that about the club, too.

Eight Dodgers pitchers paraded to the mound and Arizona used seven.

Kuroda had ugly first inning, and was tagged for five consecutive singles and four run to put the Dodgers behind, 4-3. Jones' failure to stop a ball hit to center resulted in the fourth run being unearned.

Jason Johnson, who replaced Takashi Saito on the roster, worked three innings and allowed just a single run, that coming in the third. Then in relief of starter Hiroki Kuroda, who went two and allowed five runs, came, along with Johnson, Joe Beimel, Brian Falkenborg, Hong-Chih Kuo (who also pinch-hit), Chan Ho Park, Cory Wade (who won his first major league game) and Broxton.

After Johnson surrendered a third inning run, the Dodgers' bullpen allowed only six hits over eight scoreless innings and left 11 Diamondbacks on base.

Garciaparra finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBIs. He hit two homers in a game for the first time since August 4, 2002, for the Red Sox against Texas. Kemp, Ethier and Martin each had a pair of hits.

Kuroda was obviously not on his game and left after two innings trailing 6-3, wild pitching in a run in the second. It was his worst start of the season, allowing six runs, five earned, on eight hits, a walk and a strikeout.

Garciaparra banged his first homer in the third to score Kent ahead of him to make it 6-5 but Arizona added a run off Johnson in his first inning with the Dodgers to move their lead to 7-5.

Garciaparra hit his second home run in the sixth, a 416-foot shot into a someone's bowl of food in the swimming pool area behind the fence in right field and Kemp added another solo shot in the seventh to tie the game at seven-all.

Then came the 11th inning and James Loney's huge home run plus Broxton's first save of the season in the first save situation for the Dodgers since they lost closer Takashi Saito for at least six weeks with a right elbow sprain.

Outfielder Andruw Jones left the game after the top of the fifth with what was reported as a case of stomach flu. Jones had struck out twice and committed an error while chasing down a pair of doubles off the wall.

Despite what the players say, the game was crucial in that had the Dodgers lost, they would have had to win the next two just to get back to where they were when the series started.

The Dodgers and Snakes go to 47-49 to tie the Snakes for the lead, with the Giants and Rockies seven back. Tonight Chad Billingsley takes the mound against All-Star Dan Haren and the Dodgers will try to move into first place by themselves for the first time since April 4.

 Score by innings
Los Angeles	302 001 100 001-8
Arizona	        421 000 000 000-7

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Kemp rf-cf	6  2  2  1  .285
Ethier lf-rf	6  1  2  1  .284
Martin c	5  1  2  1  .296
Kent 2b	        3  1  0  0  .250
 Maza 2b	0  0  0  0  .228
Garciaparra ss	5  2  3  3  .277
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
Loney 1b	4  1  1  1  .291
Jones cf	2  0  0  0  .162
 Young lf	3  0  0  0  .248
DeWitt 3b	5  0  1  0  .262
Kuroda p	1  0  0  0  .067
 Johnson p	1  0  0  0  .000
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Falkenborg p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Kuo ph-p	1  0  0  0  .333
 LaRoche ph	1  0  0  0  .178
 Park p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Wade p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Berroa ph-ss	0  0  0  0  .192
  Totals	43 8 11 7
  Arizona	47 7 15 5

 Error- Jones (1). 2b hits- Ethier 2 (23), Martin
(18). HR- Garciaparra 2 (4), Kemp (10), Loney (8).
RBI- Ethier (42), Martin (46), Garciaparra (15),
Kemp (52), Loney (51). LOB- Los Angeles 6, Arizona
11. DP- Kent, Garciaparra and Loney.

 Los Angeles	  in  h  r-er bb so  era
Kuroda	         2.0  8  6-5  1  1  3.79
Johnson	         3.0  3  1-1  0  0  3.00
Beimel	         0.2  0  0-0  2  0  1.57
Falkenborg	 0.1  0  0-0  0  1  6.14
Kuo	         2.0  1  0-0  1  4  1.63
Park	         1.0  2  0-0  0  1  2.59
Wade (1-1)	 1.0  1  0-0  0  0  2.50
Broxton (save 1) 1.0  0  0-0  0  2  3.32
 WP- Kuroda. HBP- Berroa. T- 4:15.
Att- 38,561.
Batting Coaches Everywhere
Don Mattingly took over as the hitting coach in place of Mike Easler. The club also added Jeff Pentland, a former hitting coach with the Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs who was hired last month as a roving hitting instructor. Mattingly, who resigned as the hitting coach in January but remained on Torre's staff as a special assignment coach, said the Dodgers' youngsters looked good to him when he watched the team in person and on tape. Referring to the hitters' approaches at the plate and lack of selectivity, Mattingly said, "I've seen us lose games the exact same way. That's what bothers me. I want to see improvement. You should be improving. These are talented guys."

Broxton (almost) the Stopper
Torre met with Broxton and told him that he'll be the primary closer, and that he will get the call if the Dodgers have a slim lead in the ninth, but he won't be the only closer. Chan Ho Park can be used in that role on occasion, and Torre also said he might use Hong-Chih Kuo or Joe Beimel in save situations if the other team had two or three left-handed hitters coming up in the inning. However, Broxton may have made his case for the steady job with his 1-2-3 ninth inning.

Johnson Goes Into Rotation
Park will be replaced in the rotation by veteran right-hander Jason Johnson, whose contract was purchased from Las Vegas to take Takashi Saito's roster spot. Torre said the surprising promotion of Johnson does not mean the Dodgers have lost confidence in 20-year-old Clayton Kershaw, who made eight starts for the Dodgers before being returned to Jacksonville. "He's still on our radar screen," Torre said of Kershaw. Johnson was an innings eater for Baltimore (1999-2003) and Detroit (2004-05), but he moved to three organizations in 2006 and followed with an injury-marred 2007 in Japan. His Major League record is 55-98. He pitches with an insulin pump, is a role model to countless diabetics and a tireless charity worker. To make room for the purchase of Johnson's contract, the Dodgers placed Yhency Brazoban on the 60-day disabled list with shoulder problems. Brazoban previously was on the Las Vegas disabled list, so he becomes the 16th disabling injury for the Dodgers this year.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Jason Schmidt has been shut down, his rehab assignment put on hold. He felt discomfort in his shoulder (again) after his last rehab start. Torre said he'll throw a couple of side sessions here, and if those go well, he'll resume his rehab. ...Disabled pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney is with the club after a brief injury rehab with Las Vegas, but he has not yet been activated.