<
>

Dodgers hadn't won two in a row in nearly a month

PHOENIX (AP) -- For the first time in almost a month, the Los
Angeles Dodgers are on a winning streak, even if it's just two
games.

Jeff Kent hit his 12th career grand slam and Olmedo Saenz added
a two-run shot to lead the Dodgers to a 7-4 victory over the
Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night.

The Dodgers have won consecutive games for the first time since
May 1, a span of 23 games.

"We're better than that," said Eric Gagne, who earned his
first two saves of the season in the last two victories. "We need
to show it. We need to come here tomorrow and get another one."

Arizona's Tony Clark tied the game 4-4 with a pinch-hit, two-run
homer in the seventh inning. But reliever Jose Valverde (1-2)
walked Milton Bradley leading off the eighth, and with one out,
Saenz hit a 1-2 pitch into the Arizona bullpen in left field to put
the Dodgers back in front for good.

Gagne, who missed the first 35 games because of a sprained right
elbow, pitched a perfect ninth for his second save in as many
nights. It was his sixth appearance, but only second save
opportunity.

"I don't care if it's a save situation or not for me right
now," Gagne said. "It's just a matter of getting back in shape,
getting back to game situations where I need to control my body and
control my emotions."

Kent's slam also went into the bullpen, a line drive just over
the fence down the line on the first pitch he saw from Shawn Estes
in the third inning to give Los Angeles a 4-2 lead.

Jose Cruz Jr. hit a two-run home run for the Diamondbacks.

After a tough stretch of injuries, the Dodgers have gotten
consecutive strong outings from starters Brad Penny and Derek Lowe,
and they have Gagne approaching his old form.

"We finally, almost 50 games into the season, have those pieces
in place," manager Jim Tracy said.

With the Dodgers leading 4-2 and two outs in the seventh inning,
Koyie Hill singled, and Los Angeles manager Jim Tracy lifted Lowe.
Left-hander Kelly Wunsch came in to force Clark, a switch hitter,
to hit from the right side. On Wunsch's first pitch, Clark homered
into the left field seats to tie it at 4-4.

Tracy explained the decision to remove Lowe.

"We got a guy out there that's pitched a terrific game. He's
close to 100 pitches. He's completely saturated," Tracy said.
"Tony Clark is hitting 145 points higher from the left side than
he is the right side.

"He has no home runs thus far this year from the right side. He
has three hits off Derek Lowe, two of which are home runs. You
know, it's a move that you've got to make."

Clark has two pinch-hit home runs this season, and has 23 RBI
in just 73 at-bats.

Although he gave up the tying homer and got just one out, Wunsch
(1-0) got the victory.

Arizona has lost four of six after winning eight of 10.

"We went through it earlier in the year, too, and we've gone
through it lately with the bullpen," manager Bob Melvin said,
"and we have to find a way to tighten it up."

The Diamondbacks scored twice before the first out of the game.
Craig Counsell led off with a single, then moved to third when Lowe
was called for two balks. Cruz followed with a home run over the
swimming pool in right-center field to make it 2-0. It was Cruz's
fifth homer of the season.

Two walks by Estes set up Kent's slam. Perez led off with a
single, then Cesar Izturis and Jayson Werth drew one-out walks to
load the bases. Bradley flew out to left for the second out to
bring up Kent, whose homer was his ninth of the season.

Both center fielder's made tough catches. The Dodgers' Bradley
caught one over his shoulder running toward the wall off Hill in
the second. Arizona's Cruz made a diving catch of Bradley's blooper
to save a run in the fourth.

Game notes
The Bank One Ballpark roof was closed after eight innings
because of a dust storm. ... In his last appearance in Arizona,
Lowe was hit near the elbow with a line drive and had to leave the
game. He took another line shot, this one from Alex Cintron, on
Friday night. But it hit the pitcher in his backside and he chased
the ball down and threw the batter out. ... Estes got his first
career stolen base. It was the fourth by a pitcher in franchise
history. ... Estes and Lowe were roommates in Seattle. ... After
the game, the Dodgers optioned RHP Buddy Carlyle to Triple-A Las
Vegas to make room for LHP Derek Thompson, who will start Saturday
night's game.