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Beckett keeps Dodgers lineup in check

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Josh Beckett is learning how to win without
his best stuff.

Beckett labored through six gritty innings, and the Florida
Marlins got home runs from Carlos Delgado, Miguel Cabrera and
Damion Easley in a five-run sixth to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers
8-3 Wednesday.

Despite losing All-Star third baseman Mike Lowell to a nose
injury, the Marlins took two of three from the defending NL West
champions after getting swept in a three-game series at San Diego.

The Dodgers, who haven't won back-to-back games since winning
their third in a row on May 1, have lost three consecutive series --
dropping two of three to Atlanta and three of four at St. Louis.

Beckett (6-3) allowed two runs and five hits and singled home a
run. The right-hander, whose strikeout-to-walk ratio has always
been in the 3-to-1 range, fanned six and walked five.

"Today he struggled big-time with his control, but he found a
way," catcher Paul Lo Duca said. "He had a lot of pitches for six
innings and he didn't have his best stuff, but he battled and kept
us in the game."

Beckett, the World Series MVP in 2003, has made 82
regular-season starts in the majors and still hasn't won more than
two consecutive decisions. His career record is 32-29, which
surprises a lot of his supporters who expected bigger things from
him by now.

"He's going to have those expectations anyway because he's got
dynamite stuff," Lo Duca said. "He's still maturing, and I really
think he's going to win a Cy Young before he's done. I think he's
starting to figure it out. He just has to realize he doesn't have
to strike everybody out."

All three Florida homers came off Jeff Weaver (4-3), who was
charged with six runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings and is 0-2 in
four career starts against the Marlins.

Delgado hit his second opposite-field, two-run homer in two
days, giving Florida a 3-2 lead in the sixth after Lo Duca's
leadoff single. Cabrera followed with his eighth homer on an 0-2
pitch, giving the Marlins back-to-back home runs for the first time
since last June 29 in Atlanta.

"Delgado actually hit a pretty darn good pitch out of the
ballpark," Dodgers catcher Paul Bako said. "He hurt us on a pitch
that Weave didn't really make a mistake on. But then he made a
mistake to Cabrera, and things kind of just snowballed from
there."

Easley hit his third homer two outs later, and Alex Gonzalez
chased Weaver with a double. Duaner Sanchez walked Beckett before
Juan Pierre capped the rally with an RBI single that made it 6-2.

The Dodgers got a run back in the seventh on J.D. Drew's RBI
single, but shortstop Gonzalez made a great over-the-shoulder grab
in short left field two outs later to rob Milton Bradley of a
potential two-run single that would have cut Florida's lead to one.

Lowell left in the second inning with a bruise after he lost
Bradley's popup in the sun near the dugout and was hit on the nose.
Bradley, given a second chance, drew a walk.

"I knew I was going to get it in the sun. Most people turn
away, but I'm not that smart," Lowell said. "It hit a little bit
of my nose and a lot of my upper mouth. It's just real sore, but
I'm glad it's not broken. I guess it would have been scary if it
hit me higher on the nose, and then I had to have surgery and ruin
this beautiful face."

Lowell was replaced by Joe Dillon, recalled from Triple-A
Albuquerque. Dillon filled the roster spot vacated when reliever
Jim Crowell was designated for assignment after giving up six runs
and six hits in the eighth inning of Tuesday night's 14-5 loss.

Dillon, who turns 30 on Aug. 2, signed with the Marlins as a
free agent in March 2004 and hit 46 home runs in the minors last
season, including 33 at Triple-A. Two years ago, he was the
baseball coach at his alma mater, Texas Tech, where his
single-season school record of 33 home runs still stands.

"I was going back to school to finish my degree, and I didn't
think I'd be in this situation," said Dillon, whose parents,
sister and brother-in-law flew down from the Sacramento area to
witness his first day in the big leagues.

"There was six or seven months there where I didn't even think
about playing anymore. I thought I was done," Dillon said. "But
everything worked out. It's been a roller coaster, but this is what
my goal was, so I hope I can stay here and contribute and help the
team win some games."

The promotion was so sudden, Dillon had to use Lo Duca's shoes,
Jeff Conine's bat and one of Gonzalez's gloves. Dillon came up for
the first time in the majors in the fifth and singled.

Game notes
After the game, Florida optioned RHP Travis Smith to
Albuquerque and recalled RHP Logan Kensing from the Isotopes. ...
Gonzalez, who won Game 4 of the 2003 World Series with a
12th-inning home run off Weaver, is 1-for-9 against him since. ...
Dodgers INF Antonio Perez came off the disabled list after being
sidelined for 35 games because of a strained left hamstring. OF
Jason Grabowski was placed on the 15-day DL because of a right
shoulder problem, which has been bothering him all season.