Beltre then calmly stepped out of the dugout, settled into his
stance and did the honors himself Tuesday night.
Beltre's two-run shot in the seventh sparked the Dodgers' sixth
straight comeback victory on the road, 7-5 over the slumping
"We believe we can come back and win any game the way we are
swinging the bats," said Beltre, who hit his career-high 25th
homer. "You get in a groove and feel confident that you can do a
lot of damage."
The Dodgers have won 14 of 15 and eight consecutive road games,
something they haven't done since June 1982. Los Angeles also moved
a season-high 16 games above .500 at 54-38.
Jeff Weaver (7-9) gave up four runs on seven hits in six
innings, but left trailing 4-1 when the Dodgers began to rally for
their eighth consecutive win.
Eric Gagne got four outs, including three strikeouts to end the
game, for his 27th save in 28 chances.
"It's been a fantastic road trip. This is a great way to start
the second half. It's a tremendous momentum builder," Dodgers
manager Jim Tracy said. "We have created a mind-set where we don't
feel like anything is insurmountable."
Los Angeles went out and proved it again Tuesday, taking
advantage of another Astros' meltdown in the late innings.
Jason Grabowski led off the seventh with a pinch-hit single and
Pete Munro hit Dave Roberts with a pitch. David Weathers (1-2) came
in and got Cesar Izturis to line out to shortstop, but Adam Everett
made a throwing error to advance the runners.
Paul Lo Duca singled them in on the next at-bat and Beltre
followed with homer on the first pitch to give the Dodgers a 5-4
Los Angeles added two more runs in the eighth, on Beltre's RBI
single and Milton Bradley's fielder's choice.
"I stunk. We've got a 4-1 lead and I just don't make the
pitches," Weathers said. "I might as well be pitching
underhanded, like in softball. I don't want to use the word
`frustrating' because that's too easy. Embarrassing is the right
Morgan Ensberg hit a solo homer in the eighth for Houston, which
has lost four of five since Phil Garner replaced Jimy Williams as
manager during the All-Star break.
The Astros are a season-high 14 games behind NL Central-leading
St. Louis and one more loss from dropping into last place with
Pittsburgh. With every defeat, Houston's preseason dreams of going
to its first World Series look more and more doubtful.
Houston's discouraging start after the break has clearly
befuddled the veteran clubhouse. Hardly anyone stuck around to talk
with reporters after this loss.
"Bleak crowd tonight, huh?" Garner said.
Said Ensberg: "I don't know what to think. I don't know if
we're snakebit. I don't know if it's bad luck. It's the same
frustrating things that have been going on the last couple months.
I don't know what the answer is."
The Astros got off to an impressive start against Weaver.
In the third, Lo Duca's RBI single scored Izturis to close the
gap to 3-1. Jeff Bagwell homered in the bottom of the inning to
extend the Astros' lead.
But Houston's bullpen blew a lead against Los Angeles for the
second straight night, drawing the ire of the frustrated fans.
Weathers, who allowed two runs on three hits in his short
outing, was booed by the crowd of 34,154 as he left the mound.
"People pay to see major league baseball and then I don't pitch
like a major league pitcher," he said. "I deserve to get
Bagwell's 432nd homer moved him past Cal Ripken Jr. into
32nd place on the career list. ... The Astros have now spent 28
days in fifth place in the NL Central, the same amount of time
they've spent in first this season. ... Cora, who had only two
errors this season before this series, has committed errors on
back-to-back nights. ... The Astros tied a season high with three