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Giants' NL wild-card cushion cut to one

9/20/2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Odalis Perez pulled the teetering Dodgers
right back into the NL wild-card race and gave the Los Angeles
bullpen a much-needed break.

Perez pitched a seven-hitter and Brian Jordan hit a three-run
double to beat San Francisco 6-3 Thursday night as the Dodgers
climbed within one game of the Giants for the wild card.

"It was a lot of responsibility,'' the 24-year-old Perez said.
"If we go down three games, we are out of the race. It was great
for me and the team, too, because we needed it.''

The teams split the four-game series, and are not scheduled to
play again this season. Both clubs have nine games left.

"It definitely was a good series for both teams,'' said Reggie
Sanders, who hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth for the
Giants.

"They didn't lose any ground and we didn't lose any ground.
They're a very tough team and they're here for a reason. So it's
not going to be an easy task.''

Perez (15-9) struck out seven and walked two in his fourth
career complete game. All four of the Dodgers' complete games this
season belong to Perez.

"He's been doing it all year. The guy should have a perfect
game, a no-hitter,'' Dodgers catcher Paul Lo Duca said. "That
lineup has been giving us fits all year, so to shut those guys down
like that and to throw a complete game, giving our bullpen a rest,
is huge.''

The Dodgers scored all six runs in the third inning to chase
Livan Hernandez (11-16).

"If we had lost, let's face it, it's a two-game swing,''
Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "The hill becomes much steeper for
us to have to climb it.''

Besides getting a quality start from Perez, the Dodgers also got
the early lead, something that had eluded them in the three
previous games.

"He challenged guys and he was ahead all night and that was the
difference,'' Lo Duca said of Perez. "The last three nights we
were behind a lot of guys.''

Jordan continued his big hitting in September, going 3-for-4 and
driving in three runs. He has 24 RBI in 18 games this month, which
leads the NL.

"Jordan got the big hit again with that double down the line
that was just barely fair. That was the ballgame,'' San Francisco
manager Dusty Baker said. "Every time they beat us, it seems that
Jordan drives in three or four runs.''

Hernandez retired the first six hitters before getting tagged
when Los Angeles sent 10 batters to the plate in the third.

With runners on first and third, Hernandez fielded a bunt by
Perez, dropped the ball trying to take it out of his glove and the
bases were loaded.

"After that the wheels came off,'' Baker said.

Dave Roberts followed with a two-run single to open the scoring.
Hernandez's error made one of the runs unearned.

Jordan doubled down the left-field line to make it 5-0. Eric
Karros followed with another RBI double to left, scoring Jordan for
a 6-0 lead.

"Winning sure would have made it a lot tougher on them, but we
realized that they had one of the top pitchers in the league
going,'' Baker said. "That's too big a lead to give a quality
pitcher like Odalis Perez.''

Tsuyoshi Shinjo hit an RBI single in the fifth for San
Francisco.

Barry Bonds went 1-for-3 with a walk. The Giants star leads the
majors in hitting at .373.

Game notes
Both contenders play on the road this weekend. The Dodgers
are at San Diego while the Giants are in Milwaukee. ... Karros'
double in the third was his 580th career extra-base hit, moving him
into second on the Dodgers career list behind Willie Davis' 585.
... Karros played in his 1,593rd career game, tying Maury Wills for
10th on the Dodgers career list. ... The Giants won the season
series (11-8) for the first time since 1992. Seven of those wins
came at Dodger Stadium, their most ever in a season. ... The finale
drew 43,921, the highest of the four-game series. ... U.S. Open
tennis champion Pete Sampras watched the game behind home plate.