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Cora, Kinkade come through with big two-out hits

9/22/2002

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Thanks to an emotional home run by Alex Cora
and an adrenaline-fueled, pinch-hit by Mike Kinkade, the Los
Angeles Dodgers get to play a meaningful final week.

Cora tied the game with a seventh-inning homer -- then exchanged
words with pitcher Adam Eaton -- and Kinkade singled home the
go-ahead run with two outs in the ninth as the Dodgers beat the San
Diego Padres 4-3 Sunday to remain two games behind San Francisco in
the National League wild-card race.

A defeat would have been staggering, putting the Dodgers three
behind the Giants with six games to play.

''It was a fabulous game. It's two vs. three,'' manager Jim
Tracy said. ''The last week of the season, because of what we've
done in this series, is now a must for both clubs. It would have
made it a lot easier on them if we'd have lost this game and fallen
three behind.''

San Francisco beat Milwaukee 3-1. The Dodgers' victory also
prevented NL West leader Arizona from clinching a playoff spot.

The Dodgers have six games left, all at home, starting Tuesday
against Colorado. San Francisco has five games left at home and, if
necessary, a makeup game at Atlanta on Sept. 30.

Kinkade singled up the middle off lefty Kevin Walker and Mark
Grudzielanek scored from second, just ahead of the throw from
center fielder Mark Kotsay. Grudzielanek had singled off Jonathan
Johnson (1-2) and stole second.

After working the count full, Kinkade got a fastball he could
handle.

''That's pretty exciting,'' said Kinkade, who was called up from
Triple-A Las Vegas on July 21. ''Pinch-hitting to me is like an
adrenaline rush. All of a sudden you're in and that adrenaline's
wide open.''

Cora tied it at 3 when he homered down the right-field line with
two outs in the Dodgers' seventh. He had been 0-for-11 lifetime
against San Diego's Adam Eaton until homering.

After watching the ball sail out, Cora tossed his bat aside and
raised his right index finger in the air. He and Eaton exchanged
words during Cora's trot, and both apologized later.

''When you're in this situation, you get a little too
emotional,'' Cora said. ''Just watching on the replay, I think I
did and I've got to apologize for that. At the same time, people
have got to realize we are playing for our lives right now. We're
in a situation where it's all heart right now. Sometimes when you
get a big hit, you react that way.''

''It's an emotional game and things are going to be said. I'm a
little embarrassed about what I said because it was definitely
recorded and kids are going to be seeing it. It was definitely heat
of the moment. No real animosity, that's for sure,'' he said.

Paul Quantrill (5-4) pitched the eighth and Eric Gagne the ninth
for his 51st save in 55 chances.

Brian Jordan had three hits for the Dodgers, who took two of
three from the Padres. San Diego's Mark Kotsay homered twice and
finished with three hits, as did Phil Nevin.

San Diego jumped to a 2-0 lead before the Dodgers got an out.
Kotsay hit a leadoff homer into the first row of seats in
right-center on the first pitch from Omar Daal, and Deivi Cruz
followed with a ground-rule double on his next pitch. Nevin singled
in Cruz.

Kotsay homered leading off the third, again to right-center, for
a 3-1 lead. His 15th and 16th homers gave Kotsay his first career
multihomer game.

The Dodgers closed to 3-2 on Eric Karros' one-out sacrifice fly
in the sixth, but two baserunning blunders by Shawn Green cost them
a shot at tying.

Karros' bases-loaded fly ball went to the warning track in
center, but Green didn't attempt to tag up. Green was then caught
off second base in a 2-4-5-6-1-4-2-3 rundown, with 6-foot-4,
230-pound first baseman Brian Buchanan finally tagging him out as
they both hit the dirt.

Padres pinch-runner Cesar Crespo blundered in the eighth,
getting doubled off second on Ron Gant's fly to left field to end
the inning.

Paul Lo Duca hit a run-scoring double in Dodgers' third.

Game notes
It was the third career leadoff homer for Kotsay. ...
Dodgers leadoff batter Dave Roberts has a strained ribcage muscle
and will have an MRI in the next few days. Tracy said it's unlikely
Roberts will play in the next several games. Roberts was hurt
fouling off an 0-2 pitch Saturday night, then hit a leadoff homer.
He left the game after that. ... With Roberts out, Marquis Grissom
started in center and batted leadoff. ... After considering
bringing back Hideo Nomo on three days of rest to start against
Colorado on Wednesday night, Tracy decided to start Giovanni
Carrara on Wednesday and Nomo on Thursday against San Diego.