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Perez throws seven hitless innings

7/6/2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- One more close call for Odalis Perez.

The Los Angeles left-hander held Arizona hitless through seven
innings and combined with Eric Gagne on a four-hitter Saturday as
the Dodgers snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory
over the Diamondbacks.

Shea Hillenbrand blooped a single to right field leading off the
eighth, making it four times in two seasons Perez has flirted with
a no-hitter and fallen short.

"I wanted it bad," he said. "But there will come a day when
that's going to happen. If I go out there in the future and have
another no-hitter go to the eighth inning, I don't think I'm going
to lose it again."

He sure is familiar with the feeling.

Perez threw a pair of one-hitters last year -- giving up a
seventh-inning infield single at Chicago on April 26 and a leadoff
single in the sixth against Colorado on June 25. He also took a
perfect game into the seventh against the Mets on Aug. 17.

Hillenbrand spoiled this one, going the other way with an 0-1
pitch -- Perez's 94th of the game -- and dropping it into short right
field.

"There's a little more pressure in those situations because you
know what's on the line," Hillenbrand said. "But every hitter
thrives off that."

Perez (5-7) was criticized by his teammates after complaining
about the Dodgers' lack of offense following his previous start in
Anaheim, so he wasn't about to get on right fielder Shawn Green for
not diving for Hillenbrand's hit.

The ball was way out of Green's reach, anyway.

"It was nice to step up for the team," Perez said. "Some guys
were mad at me because of what I said, but my responsibility was to
go out there and win a game. So it doesn't matter if they were mad
at me or not. I still have to give the best effort I can to keep
the team in the game. We are brothers, and this is a team."

The crowd of 38,957 booed Green when he came to the plate in the
bottom of the eighth.

"I dive all the time, so if I had any chance I would have dove
for it -- especially with a no-hitter on the line," Green said.
"But it was too far away. I was going full-speed, but I'm not
going to dive and miss the ball by 8-10 feet and have the guy go to
second base -- regardless of how people are going to react. That's
false hustle. I'm not going to put on a show. That's ridiculous."

After Hillenbrand's single, Perez (5-7) retired rookie Robby
Hammock on a double-play grounder before Quinton McCracken and Chad
Moeller followed with singles. But they were stranded when
pinch-hitter Carlos Baerga grounded into a force play.

Perez, who came to the Dodgers with left fielder Brian Jordan
from Atlanta in a January 2002 trade for Gary Sheffield, struck out
five and walked none in eight innings. He was 0-5 in his previous
seven starts since winning May 23 at Milwaukee.

Gagne got three outs for his 38th consecutive save and 30th this
season, allowing a two-out single to Alex Cintron in the ninth.

The Dodgers opened the fourth inning with a pair of unearned
runs against Elmer Dessens (5-5), who was 2-0 in eight starts since
his previous defeat May 20 against San Francisco.

After Paul Lo Duca reached second on a double error by Hammock
at third base, Mike Kinkade hit an RBI single and scored on David
Ross' double.

Lo Duca temporarily preserved Perez's no-hit bid in the seventh
by robbing Luis Gonzalez of a potential double down the first-base
line with a diving stop. Two batters earlier, Lo Duca had to leap
in the air to handle a bad-hop smash by Steve Finley, whose hitting
streak ended at 15 games.

"With a guy like Perez, you try to get him early before he
settles in. But he settled in right from the get-go and kept us
off-balance all day," Finley said. "We're an aggressive swinging
team, and it turned out to be a bonus for him today."

Dessens was charged with two unearned runs and five hits over
seven innings, striking out eight and walking none.

Game notes
Dodgers RHP Kevin Brown's lower abdominal strain will force
him out of his next scheduled start Tuesday, and might affect his
availability to pitch in the All-Star game on July 15 -- since his
next scheduled start is July 13. Wilson Alvarez will start in
Brown's place at San Diego. ... The last no-hitter pitched by a
Dodger was Sept. 17, 1996, when Hideo Nomo beat Colorado 9-0 at
Coors Field for the first of his two no-hitters. ... The Dodgers'
last no-no at Dodger Stadium was turned in by Ramon Martinez, in a
7-0 triumph over Florida. ... The only no-hitter pitched against
the Diamondbacks was by St. Louis' Jose Jimenez, who beat them 1-0
on June 25, 1999, at Bank One Ballpark.