HOUSTON (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers remain confident no
matter how many runs they're trailing by, and how late in the game
Milton Bradley and Shawn Green hit back-to-back home runs in the
eighth inning to lift Los Angeles to a 7-6 comeback victory over
the Houston Astros on Monday night, the Dodgers' seventh straight
"We expect to win every inning, every out, every at-bat,"
closer Eric Gagne said after the Dodgers came from behind to win
for the fifth straight time on the road since the All-Star break.
"We're doing everything right right now," Gagne said.
Adrian Beltre added his career-high 24th homer for the Dodgers,
who have won 13 of their last 14 games.
"It was a great victory," manager Jim Tracy said. "It was
back-and-forth and we had some big step-up at-bats in the late
innings by Milton and Shawn. ... We made a couple of mistakes
early, but it was because we were aggressive. You can't fault
Green, hitting .412 (7-for-17) in the first five games of this
road trip, appears to have shaken an early season slump.
"I definitely think he's on an upward swing," Tracy said. "We
want him to get very, very confident in this stretch."
Green doesn't want to get too confident.
"It's July," he said. "I don't want to get too caught up in
this. But we're in a great stretch right now. I have felt a lot
better the last 2½ to 3 weeks."
The Astros feel worse after losing for the fifth time in their
last six games.
"We didn't play well," Houston manager Phil Garner said."We
had the game in the palm of our hands and we let it get away.
Ensberg got a big blow, but we couldn't stop them. It's frustrating
because we put runs on the board. We just couldn't throw the ball
over the plate. A pair of late home runs, that is going to happen
sometimes, but you have got to throw strikes to win games."
After Garner got his first win Sunday, the Astros thought this
slump, in which they have lost 10 of their last 15, might be
starting to break.
"I'm sure the fans are tired of this and we're tired of it,
too," Lance Berkman said. "The only way we can improve is to keep
the pressure on and keep doing our jobs. It's going to take a
three- or four-game winning streak to let us get our confidence
back. We gave ourselves a chance to win it tonight, but it didn't
work out. Hopefully in will in the future."
Giovanni Carrera (2-0) allowed two runs and two hits in 1 1-3
innings of relief for the victory, and Gagne threw just eight
pitches in a perfect ninth for his 26th save in 27 opportunities.
Dan Miceli (3-5) gave up the back-to-back homers to Bradley and
Green and took the loss, which dropped Garner's record to 1-3 since
taking over from Jimy Williams after the All-Star break.
In the eighth, Bradley homered to right on Miceli's first pitch.
Green followed with a homer to right on a 0-2 pitch to give the
Dodgers a 7-6 lead.
Beltre gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead in the second with a homer
off Brandon Duckworth, who lasted just 4 2-3 innings. The Los
Angeles third baseman surpassed his career high of 23 homers, set
Houston came back in its half of the second. Berkman and Jeff
Bagwell walked and Morgan Ensberg's bunt single loaded the bases.
Raul Chavez followed with a grounder to second baseman Alex
Cora, who instead of trying for the force, at first attempted to
chase Ensberg down as Berkman scored. Failing to get Ensberg, Cora
threw wildly to first for an error that scored Bagwell.
Duckworth then hit a grounder to second that scored Ensberg for
a 3-1 lead.
The Dodgers scored four runs in the sixth, with three unearned
because of two Astros errors. Beltre led off with a walk and went
to third when reliever Chad Harville fielded Bradley's bunt and
threw high over Bagwell's head at first base for an error.
Green's grounder to first then scored Beltre and Juan
Encarnacion's single to left drove in Bradley to tie it at 3.
Cora's single was misplayed in left field by Craig Biggio for an
error that allowed Encarnacion to score. Cesar Izturis then singled
in Cora for a 5-3 lead.
Ensberg hit a three-run homer in the sixth to give Houston a 6-5
Dodgers starter Wilson Alvarez went 5 2-3 innings, allowing four
runs, three earned, on three hits.
Duckworth allowed six hits but only one run as the Astros turned
three double plays behind him. He finished with one strikeout and
Ensberg's first three homers all came against Texas July
2-4 at home. ... The second-inning throwing error by Cora was his
first in 42 games. He has only three errors this season, fewest
among NL second basemen. ... It was the sixth time the Dodgers have
hit back-to-back homers this season. The last were by Jayson Werth
and Jason Grabowski on July 7 vs. Arizona.