Los Angeles gets back to .500 for the year


ATLANTA (AP) -- Robin Ventura chugged around the bases for the
first inside-the-park homer of his career and the Los Angeles
Dodgers handed Russ Ortiz his first loss since June 13, beating the
Atlanta Braves 8-4 Sunday.

Adrian Beltre hit a three-run homer as Los Angeles snapped a
five-game losing streak. The Dodgers pushed their record back to
.500 on an unusual day at Turner Field.

Los Angeles was at a clear disadvantage in the pitching matchup:
Ortiz, who had won eight straight starts, vs. Scott Mullen, a
journeyman left-hander called up from the minors to make his first
major league start.

But the Dodgers scored four unearned runs in the first off Ortiz
(15-5), and their bullpen held the high-scoring Braves to only one
run over the final six innings after Mullen struggled with his

Ventura, acquired from the New York Yankees on Thursday, picked
up his first homer for the Dodgers in the seventh -- just not in the
way anyone would have expected.

On a drive to the left-center gap, Darren Bragg jumped against
the wall attempting a backhanded catch. The ball popped loose as he
turned his glove and crashed into the padding. Sitting on the
ground, Bragg snagged the ball with his bare hand before it struck
the ground, holding it for the umpires to see.

But umpire Jeff Kellogg, running out from his position at second
base, ruled that the ball had struck the wall. Bragg tried to flip
the ball to left fielder Chipper Jones, but it sailed over his
head. Ventura never stopped running, sliding across home before the
Braves could retrieve the ball and throw home.

Ortiz, who threw a staggering 118 pitches in five innings of
work, should have gotten out of the first without a run scoring.
With Dave Roberts on after a leadoff single, Jolbert Cabrera hit a
grounder to Rafael Furcal for an apparent double play. Instead,
second baseman Marcus Giles dropped the throw for an error, leaving
both runners aboard. Shawn Green followed with an RBI single.

Ventura and Jeromy Burnitz both struck out, but Ortiz couldn't
limit the damage. The right-hander left a 1-1 fastball in Beltre's
eyes, and the third baseman hit it deep into the left-field stands
for his 10th homer in a disappointing season.

Beltre came into the game hitting just .222, prompting the
Dodgers to trade for Ventura in an attempt to boost their anemic

Both contributed in this game. Ventura made his first start at
first base since Sept. 2, 1996.

Los Angeles, which had managed only 12 runs in its last nine
games, had its high-scoring output since an 8-5 victory at St.
Louis on July 18.

Mullen, called up before the game to replace the injured
Kazuhisa Ishii, went to the mound with a 4-0 lead but couldn't hang
around long enough to get the win. In the first, he walked four and
hit a batter as the Braves scored three times with only one hit.

Mullen was yanked after the third. Guillermo Mota (3-2), Tom
Martin, Paul Shuey, Paul Quantrill and Eric Gagne shut down the
Braves the rest of the way.

The only slip-up came in the seventh, when Gary Sheffield hit
his 27th homer off Martin. By then, the Dodgers had built an 8-3
lead on run-scoring hits by Burnitz, Dave Roberts and Cabrera.

Game notes
Ventura's homer was the second inside-the-park for the
Dodgers this season. Paul Lo Duca had one against the Chicago White
Sox on June 8. ... The Braves have been victimized by three
inside-the-park homers this season. Florida's Derrek Lee and San
Diego's Sean Burroughs had the other ones. ... Bragg was filling in
for CF Andruw Jones, who missed his second straight game with a
strained right oblique.