LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Adrian Beltre didn't make the All-Star team despite the best first half of his career. The way he and the Los Angeles Dodgers are playing, a postseason berth would be a nice consolation prize.
Beltre, a seven-year veteran third baseman, had five RBI to
raise his total to 71 -- just 14 fewer than his career high. He has
hit a career-high 27 home runs despite playing all season with bone
spurs in his ankle.
"It's very apparent when he swings through something -- it bites
him and he falls down, so that's a pretty good indication that it's
bothering him," Dodgers outfielder Jayson Werth said. "So to play
every day and do the things that he's been doing on top of that, I
mean, that's nothing short of amazing to me."
Beltre, who hit a game-ending homer in the ninth inning Friday,
capped a six-run fourth against Ismael Valdez (9-6) with a towering
drive deep into the left-field pavilion, giving the Dodgers an 8-1
lead after RBI singles by Alex Cora and Cesar Izturis.
"He's having a tremendous year," Padres manager Bruce Bochy
said. "We got behind him with the bases loaded and he got a good
pitch to handle. We had to go after him, but Izzy didn't quite get
the pitch where he wanted it."
Juan Encarnacion followed Green's seventh-inning homer with a
solo shot and also robbed Ryan Klesko of a three-run homer in the
first to help maintain the Dodgers' 3½ game lead in the NL West
over San Francisco and dropped the Padres 4½ out. Los Angeles is a
season-high 18 games over .500.
"They jumped on us early and kept scoring," Klesko said.
"Last night was tougher to swallow because we had the lead. Do
they have a good team? Yes. Otherwise they wouldn't be in first
place. But I'm not going to sit and analyze them. Our job is to
Wilson Alvarez (4-4) allowed a run and five hits over seven
innings with five strikeouts and one walk. The left-hander has
allowed no more than one earned run in 13 of his 21 starts for the
Dodgers since signing as a free agent in January 2003.
Sean Burroughs and Mark Loretta opened the game with singles and
Klesko drove a 2-0 pitch to right field with two outs. The 6-foot-3
Encarnacion drifted back on the ball and timed his leap perfectly
against the 8-foot wall, depriving Klesko of a home run.
"It doesn't matter whether I thought it was gone. He made a
good play," Klesko said. "I should have hit it father, I guess.
If I had gotten all of it, it would have gone out of the stadium."
In the fourth, Encarnacion came in on the dead run to make an
inning-ending diving grab of Jay Payton's fourth-inning blooper.
"Encarnacion was a hero tonight," Alvarez said. "He saved me
in the first inning. When Klesko hit it, I thought it was just a
flyball, but it kept going. I saw Juan jump and bring it back in,
and that was a big relief. That catch was the difference in the
Jay Witasick, working his third inning of relief, gave up
Green's 14th homer and Encarnacion's 13th. The Dodgers have hit 112
this season -- just 12 shy of last year's total, when they tied the
New York Mets for the fewest in the majors. It was the fifth time
this season the Dodgers have hit back-to-back homers.
"Everyone's on top of the world right now, though we're
obviously, not going to win the rest of our games this year. But
this is the best stretch of any team I've ever been on," Green
Valdez allowed eight runs and a season-worst 11 hits over four
innings after winning his previous three starts. He is 4-4 with a
6.99 ERA in nine starts since beating Milwaukee 4-0 on June 5.
The right-hander, who got his first 52 big league victories with
the Dodgers, started against them for only the second time in his
career. He pitched four-hit ball over 6 2/3 innings on June 8,
2001, in a 1-0 win for the Angels.
San Diego's runs came on Brian Giles' sacrifice fly in the third
and Xavier Nagy's RBI single in the eighth.
Loretta's three hits raised his season total to 131, the
most in the NL. He also has the most multihit games in the league
with 42. ... Padres SS Khalil Greene was back in the lineup after
missing two games because of a bruised left shin. ... Valdez
pitching for his sixth team in a span of five seasons, also made
two relief appearances against Los Angeles this season.