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Green hits grand slam, solo homer in win

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- After getting off to one of the slowest
starts of his career, Shawn Green has steadily been catching up to
his more productive teammates.

Green hit a grand slam and a solo homer to lead the Los Angeles
Dodgers past the Atlanta Braves 7-4 Saturday, snapping Mike
Hampton's string of seven straight wins.

The Dodgers' right fielder is batting .301 in his last 38 games
with 12 homers and 33 RBI, including a pair of solo shots Thursday
night. Overall, he is hitting .266 with 22 homers and 72 RBI for
the NL West leaders.

Green had 91 homers and 239 RBI in a two-year span before
slumping to 19 homers and 85 RBI last season because of an injured
shoulder that required surgery in the offseason.

"I've worked hard and I had faith that eventually it was going
to turn," he said. "I dug myself a pretty good hole, as far as my
personal season goes, but the team has been winning, so I knew I'd
have a chance to contribute more as the season went on."

Jeff Weaver (11-10) won his fourth consecutive decision,
allowing three runs and eight hits in seven innings. With two outs
in the first, he hit three consecutive batters with pitches -- tying
a major league record. But he escaped that jam, and another
bases-loaded situation in the fifth.

Weaver also had two hits, including a single in the sixth to set
up a sacrifice fly by Steve Finley that increased the Dodgers' lead
to 7-3.

The Braves had the potential tying run at the plate in the
eighth after an RBI single by pinch-hitter Julio Franco made it
7-4. But J.D. Drew, who hit a two-run homer in the third, fouled
out against Yhency Brazoban.

Dodgers closer Eric Gagne got the day off after a three-day span
in which he threw 69 pitches and allowed six runs and nine hits
over three innings. So Giovanni Carrara pitched the ninth for his
second major league save and first since 2002.

Gagne watched the game from the dugout instead of the bullpen,
and was relieved in more ways than one after Carrara retired
Charles Thomas on a popup and Franco on a groundout with the bases
loaded to end it.

"I felt real confident in him," Gagne said. "Our bullpen's
good, so I don't even worry about it anymore. I watched the game
like a fan today.

"It was very weird because I'm used to being in there in that
situation. I feel a lot more comfortable on the mound than sitting
on the bench. Of course I want to be out there every day, but I had
to take a day off and try to get myself straight."

Things looked bleak for Weaver after he plunked Drew, Chipper
Jones and Johnny Estrada. But the right-hander collected himself
after a visit from pitching coach Jim Colborn and threw a
first-pitch strike to Andruw Jones before retiring him on a foul
popup.

"He just wanted to give me a breather and refocus," Weaver
said. "He told me to stay back a little bit and don't get ahead of
myself, so I was able to figure it out enough to get by. My cutter
wasn't as sharp as it's been, and I just pulled a few of them. But
I didn't get away from using them, which was key."

Hampton (9-9) gave up six runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings,
walking three. He lost for the first time since June 29, when
Florida beat him 5-4 in Atlanta. He was 0-5 in his first eight
starts before ending the drought with a 5-1 win over the Dodgers on
May 23.

The Dodgers loaded the bases in the first with singles by Finley
and Milton Bradley and a walk to Adrian Beltre. Green followed with
his second slam of the season, driving a 2-1 pitch into the
pavilion seats in right-center.

Hampton has allowed 25 first-inning runs in 24 starts, his
highest total in any inning this year.

"It is what it is," Hampton said. "But I don't go into each
start thinking, `Oh, man, I'd better get through this first
inning.' A lot of those first innings were earlier in the season
than later, but I don't put too much stock in it. If you make
mistakes, they're going to get hit no matter what inning it is. And
if you make pitches, you're going to get outs."

The NL East-leading Braves closed to 4-2 in the third when
Marcus Giles led off with a single and Drew drove the next pitch to
left-center for his 28th homer -- eclipsing his previous career high
set in 2001 with St. Louis.

Green got one of the runs back in the bottom half with his 22nd
homer. It was the 13th allowed by Hampton, who had given up just
two in 50 2-3 innings over his previous eight outings.

Chipper Jones' RBI single pulled Atlanta to 5-3 in the fifth,
and the Braves loaded the bases again before Weaver retired Thomas
on a flyout. Jayson Werth made it 6-3 with an RBI single in the
bottom half.

Game notes
Green has three multihomer games this season and 26 in his
career. ... Weaver has hit 12 batters, one more than he plunked
last season with the Yankees. His career high is 17, as a rookie
with Detroit in 1999. ... The only other grand slam allowed by the
Braves this season was by Boston's Doug Mirabelli, on July 3 in
Atlanta against John Thomson. The Red Sox won that game 6-1.