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Los Angeles 2, San Diego 1

9/24/2003

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Time is running out on Alex Cora and the Los
Angeles Dodgers.

Cora drove in the go-ahead run with a double in the ninth
inning, lifting Los Angeles to a 2-1 victory over the San Diego
Padres on Tuesday night.

The Dodgers stayed 3{ games behind Florida in the NL wild-card
race with only six remaining. The Marlins have five to play.

"Nothing is impossible," Los Angeles starter Wilson Alvarez
said. "We're still in it. Hopefully, this game will make all the
guys here play a little harder tomorrow because we can't lose from
now on. We have to win every day."

Although he didn't get a decision, Alvarez played a big part in
the win by limiting the Padres to one run over seven innings.

The Dodgers also got a perfect eighth inning from Tom Martin
(1-2), and Eric Gagne finished with three straight outs for his
54th save. It extended his major league record for consecutive
saves to 62, dating to last year.

"What you are beginning to see with (Gagne) is the level of his
performance, if it's possible, has raised itself," Los Angeles
manager Jim Tracy said.

Gagne moved into third place on the single-season saves list
behind Bobby Thigpen (57) and John Smoltz (55).

"Of course, we're in there, we're alive," Gagne said of the
Dodgers' playoff chances. "It's not as good as yesterday or the
day before, but we're still in it mathematically."

Adrian Beltre hit a solo home run for Los Angeles, a shot to
center off Jake Peavy in the seventh inning that tied the score at
1.

Beltre's 412-foot homer was his 23rd of the year, adding to his
career high.

"I just wish I could have that one pitch back," Peavy said.
"You have a guy who's hot there and I made a bad pitch to him."

Cora's double off Rod Beck (3-2) with one out in the ninth
scored Jeromy Burnitz from first base. Burnitz reached on a one-out
single off Beck, who started the ninth.

With Burnitz running on the pitch, Cora lined a shot into the
left-center gap to score Burnitz without a throw.

"When Bernie got on I had a feeling that the hit-and-run might
be on if I got ahead in the count," Cora said. "You have to
execute in that spot. Bernie got a great jump and I got my bat on
the ball."

Beck had one of his few poor performances since coming to San
Diego on June 2. Beck, who assumed the closer's role while Trevor
Hoffman was sidelined after two shoulder surgeries, has 21 saves in
21 chances.

"It was a fastball that I was trying to go in, but it just
sailed up and away," Beck said of the pitch to Cora. "I was just
off today, not driving the ball."

Alvarez matched Peavy through seven innings. But the Dodgers'
left-hander hurt himself with a wild pitch in the fourth inning
that allowed Mark Loretta to score from third base.

Alvarez issued a leadoff walk to Loretta, who went to third on
Phil Nevin's single.

The run snapped Alvarez's consecutive scoreless innings streak
at 25. Alvarez did not allow a run in seven innings against Arizona
in his last start and shut out the Padres at Los Angeles on Sept.
12.

"That was another terrific performance by Wilson Alvarez,"
Tracy said. "I don't know what else this guy can do. He's been
phenomenal."

The Dodgers have thrown four wild pitches in the first two games
of the series, allowing three runs to score.

Alvarez and Peavy each allowed one run on five hits through
seven innings. Alvarez struck out five and walked one. Peavy had
three strikeouts and gave up one walk.

Before Beltre homered, Los Angeles did not challenge Peavy. The
only real scoring threat came in the first inning with runners at
first and second after two-out singles by Shawn Green and Robin
Ventura. But Peavy ended the inning by striking out Beltre.

Game notes
Beltre has 17 home runs and 46 RBI since the All-Star
break. ... The Dodgers have scored two runs or fewer in 59 games.