Series: Game 2 of 3

LA Dodgers leads 2-0 (as of 9/11)

Game 1: Friday, September 10
St. Louis6Final
LA Dodgers7
Game 2: Saturday, September 11
St. Louis5Final
LA Dodgers6
Game 3: Sunday, September 12
St. Louis7Final
LA Dodgers6

Cardinals 5

(93-48, 45-25 away)

Dodgers 6

(83-58, 44-25 home)

    10:10 PM ET, September 11, 2004

    Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California 

    123456789 R H E
    STL 000004010 5 10 2
    LA 00010122 - 6 10 0

    W: S. Stewart (1-2)

    L: C. Eldred (3-2)

    S: E. Gagne (40)

    Closer saves second straight

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- In a breakout season, Cesar Izturis has been a big contributor to the Dodgers' drive for their first division title since 1995.

    On Saturday night, he made his biggest contribution yet.

    Izturis hit a go-ahead two-run single in the eighth inning, Steve Finley homered for the fourth time in three games and Los Angeles beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-5 for their fifth straight victory.

    "I would say the biggest difference in him is experience," Dodgers third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "He's more disciplined, he has a better approach and he's still learning. It's only his third full year in the big leagues, so he's got a lot more to learn. Hopefully, he keeps doing what he's doing."

    David Ross led off the eighth with a bunt single against Julian Tavarez. Cal Eldred (3-2) relieved and Jose Hernandez followed with a grounder to second baseman Tony Womack, whose hurried flip to Gold Glove shortstop Edgar Renteria was dropped for an error.

    Both runners advanced on a passed ball by rookie Yadier Molina, and Izturis drove a 3-1 pitch to center field to put the Dodgers back in front and raise his average to .290.

    "To me, the game turned on three straight innings that we didn't get the leadoff man out," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "That was more important than anything else that happened."

    Reliever Scott Stewart (1-0) got the win, retiring one batter -- Jim Edmonds on a groundout to end the eighth after Larry Walker snapped a 5-all tie with an RBI single off Mike Venafro.

    Eric Gagne pitched a scoreless ninth, joining career saves leader Lee Smith, Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, Trevor Hoffman and Robb Nen as the only pitchers with three consecutive 40-save seasons.

    In the second game of a series between division leaders, the Dodgers maintained their six-game lead in the NL West over San Francisco, which beat Arizona 5-3.

    "We know we can beat anybody," said Gagne, who got his second save over the Cardinals in two nights after St. Louis swept a three-game set with the Dodgers at Busch Stadium last week. "It doesn't matter if they beat us six in a row, we still believe we can beat them if we just come out and play hard solid baseball."

    Trailing 4-1 after Edmonds hit a three-run homer off Jeff Weaver in the sixth inning, the Dodgers rallied in the bottom half against Woody Williams.

    Shawn Green singled with two outs, and slumping Milton Bradley -- dropped to sixth in the order for the first time this season -- was grazed on the left knee with a breaking ball to load the bases. Williams' next pitch struck Alex Cora on the right arm, forcing home Jayson Werth.

    Williams felt Bradley and Cora easily could have avoided getting hit and he walked toward home plate to point that out to umpire Charlie Reliford.

    "I felt like I threw a good pitch to Cora and he leaned into it," Williams said. "The rules of baseball say you've got to try to get out of the way, but it's over and done with. It's just a shame I let the ball go as far inside as I did. Charlie's a very professional umpire and he let me have my say."

    Los Angeles tied it 4-all in the seventh on Finley's two-out RBI single against Tavarez, and Bradley followed with a hard hit ball up the middle that Renteria smothered. But he couldn't get the force at second on Green, and Finley scored the tying run.

    "There's no level that we can't play on," Bradley said. "They've been on such a high level for most of the year, so for us to take a couple of ballgames from them -- especially the way we came back and took this one, it's just a testament to this ballclub and the confidence and belief that we have."

    Finley gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead in the fourth when he drove a first-pitch fastball to right-center, barely over the reach of right fielder Walker with one out.

    It was Finley's 33rd homer and 10th in 37 games since joining Los Angeles in a trade with Arizona on July 31.

    Womack and Walker beat out infield hits with two outs, and Albert Pujols followed with a tying RBI single one pitch after Weaver got a visit from pitching coach Jim Colborn. Two pitches later, Edmonds homered to give St. Louis a 4-1 lead.

    Edmonds' 41st homer left him one short of tying his career best and two shy of matching the Cardinals' franchise record for left-handed hitters, set by Hall of Famer Johnny Mize in 1940.

    Game notes

    John Mabry made his fifth start at third base this season in place of NL RBI leader Scott Rolen, who sat out after fouling a ball off his left shin and straining his calf during Friday night's 7-6 loss. ... Cora was plunked for the 16th time, tying the L.A. Dodgers record set in 1965 by Lou Johnson and equaled last season by Mike Kinkade. ... Williams allowed two runs and five hits in 5 2-3 innings, the first time in 16 starts that he did not go at least six. ... Weaver allowed four runs and seven hits in seven innings with six strikeouts and no walks.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press