Series: Game 3 of 3

LA Dodgers won 3-0

Game 1: Friday, September 12
San Diego0Final
LA Dodgers6
Game 2: Saturday, September 13
San Diego0Final
LA Dodgers4
Game 3: Sunday, September 14
San Diego2Final
LA Dodgers5

Padres 2

(58-89, 26-47 away)

Dodgers 5

(80-68, 44-31 home)

    4:10 PM ET, September 14, 2003

    Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California 

    123456789 R H E
    SD 000101000 2 5 1
    LA 00400100 - 5 12 1

    W: H. Nomo (16-11)

    L: B. Howard (1-2)

    S: E. Gagne (51)

    Backup catcher front and center

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Backup catcher David Ross has emerged as one of the more pleasant surprises and key role players for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    His hitting and his work behind the plate have allowed Paul Lo Duca to pace himself during the grueling stretch drive. Ross had the first two-homer game of his career Sunday as the Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 5-2 behind Hideo Nomo to complete a three-game sweep.

    "We've never ever questioned his ability. He has as much raw power and can hit them as far as anybody that we have in a Dodger uniform," manager Jim Tracy said. "He's been given opportunities this year, and he's taken advantage of them."

    Ross, who began the season at Triple-A Las Vegas, was recalled May 5 when backup catcher Todd Hundley went on the disabled list with a back ailment that required surgery and sidelined him for 2½ months.

    Ross has nine homers, 17 RBI and a modest .248 average in 36 games since his promotion. But his ability to handle pitchers is what allowed Lo Duca to play first base and left field while Fred McGriff and Brian Jordan were out with injuries.

    "You've got to wait your turn. I'm behind an All-Star and I'm learning a lot from him, so I'm not complaining," Ross said. "I try to work hard when I'm not playing so that I'll be ready when I get in there.

    Nomo (16-11) tied a career high for wins with help from a four-run third inning that included home runs by Ross, Robin Ventura and Jeromy Burnitz against rookie Ben Howard (1-2). It was the first three-homer inning this season for the Dodgers, whose 113 homers are the fewest in the majors.

    "That's pretty amazing -- and none of the home runs were hit by Fred McGriff, Shawn Green or Adrian Beltre," Ross said. "But that's what veteran players like Robin and Jeromy do. They get in there and spark young guys like me."

    Los Angeles won for the 13th time in 17 games and closed within 2½ games of Florida, the NL wild-card leader. The Dodgers, whose 26-13 record since Aug. 3 is the best in the major leagues, outscored the Padres 15-2 in the series after losing nine of 12 previous meetings this season.

    "The biggest difference to me was their offense. They scored some runs in this series," the Padres' Gary Matthews Jr. said.

    Nomo, who hadn't pitched since Sept. 1 because of rotator cuff inflammation, allowed two runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings with six strikeouts and no walks. He reached 16 wins for the third time -- all with Los Angeles.

    "I don't know what anybody else's expectations were for him today, but mine are always high," Ross said. "The guy has been solid for us all year, and if he wasn't sharp, I don't think he would have let himself go out there."

    Eric Gagne got four outs for his major league-leading 51st save and record 59th in a row. Gagne, who struck out two after hitting his first batter, worked more than one inning for the eighth time this season.

    Ventura hit a two-run homer after Cesar Izturis reached on a fielding error by second baseman Mark Loretta and Green hit into a forceout. Burnitz added his 28th homer -- his 10th since the Dodgers acquired him from the New York Mets during the All-Star break.

    Ross followed with a drive into the left-field pavilion. It gave the Dodgers consecutive homers for the first time in 174 games since Sept. 2 last season.

    "I faced him last year in Las Vegas, and I had pretty good success with him. But he's here for a reason, and today he showed why," Howard said.

    San Diego's Brian Giles homered in the fourth, his 18th overall and second in 15 games since Pittsburgh dealt him to the Padres. It ended a streak of 36 innings by Dodgers' starters without an earned run allowed.

    Sean Burroughs homered in the sixth to make it 4-2, but Ross homered off Scott Linebrink in the bottom half.

    Howard allowed four runs -- one earned -- and nine hits in five innings. He has given up eight homers in 22 1/3 innings.

    Game notes

    Green and Jordan connected back to back against Rick Helling in a 19-1 win at Arizona. Ross hit his first big-league homer that day -- off Mark Grace in the ninth inning. ... The loss was the Padres' 300th against the Dodgers, against 276 victories. ... San Diego had not been swept by the Dodgers in a three-game series at Los Angeles since May 1994. ... Nomo's second-inning single was his ninth hit this season. His career high was 12 in 1999 with Milwaukee. ... Padres CF Mark Kotsay prevented a run in the first with a perfect throw to the plate after Dave Roberts tripled and tried to score on a flyout to right-center by Izturis. ... The Padres have hit only one more homer this season than the Dodgers.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press