Dodgers win two in a row after eight-game skid

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- It says a lot about the weak NL West that the
Los Angeles Dodgers have won only two of their last 10 games yet
still remain within reach of the first-place San Diego Padres.

Jeff Kent hit a sacrifice fly with one out in the 10th, his
second late-inning RBI, and the Dodgers beat the Padres 4-3
Thursday for a split of their four-game series.

Los Angeles has won two in a row after losing the first eight
games of a 13-game, four-city trip.

"Unexpectedly, the division has been weak," Kent said. "We've
played so badly, yet here we are, five, six games out, whatever it
is. And we're not even at full force. We're not even close."

Actually, Los Angeles is 4½ games back, in third place. The
Dodgers have lost only two games to San Diego in the standings
during their skid, mainly because the Padres, who also have several
injured players, lost 12 of their first 15 games this month.

"Yeah, we're doing damage to ourselves, but we've still got a
lot of time left to get our guys out of the training room, get them
out on the field and play baseball the way the Dodgers can play
baseball," Kent said.

Closer Eric Gagne is scheduled to have reconstructive elbow
surgery on Friday. Outfielder Milton Bradley is on the crowded
disabled list, and outfielder J.D. Drew missed his second straight
game with a sore left elbow and isn't expected to play in the field
during a weekend series at Anaheim, although he might be able to

"I will not fault the effort we are getting each and every
day," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "To come back and win in
the manner we did today, with as many young players we had involved
today, it's a very, very good character-building win."

Cesar Izturis doubled to right-center field off Trevor Hoffman
(0-4) opening the 10th, was sacrificed to third by Mike Edwards and
scored on Kent's fly to center.

San Diego's Mark Sweeney reached second with one out in the
ninth, but was picked off by Duaner Sanchez (2-3). Dave Roberts
then flied out to left.

Yhency Brazoban pitched the 10th for his 13th save in 16

After going 22-6 in May to set a franchise record for wins in a
month, the Padres have lost 14 of 21 in June.

Padres right-hander Brian Lawrence was cruising with a three-hit
shutout, a season-high eight strikeouts and a 3-0 lead going into
the eighth before he was chased and the Dodgers tied the game. Kent
hit a bases-loaded single to score the first Dodgers run, and
Olmedo Saenz followed with a two-run single.

Padres manager Bruce Bochy was quick with the hook after
Lawrence opened the eighth by allowing pinch-hitter Oscar Robles'
double into the right-center gap and walking left-hander Jason

"I hung a pitch and didn't want to give in to the
left-hander," Lawrence said. "I think Boch wanted to get me out
of there and not give up a three-run homer.

"I can't say how well I would have done if I had stayed in
there," he added. "With the bullpen we have, you can never go

This time, though, it did go wrong.

Akinori Otsuka came on and got two outs, but then loaded the
bases with a walk to Jayson Werth. Kent singled to left past diving
shortstop Khalil Greene to score Robles, and Saenz singled to left
to bring in Grabowski and Werth.

"For seven innings, we were pretty much flawless," Bochy said.
"That was a game that we definitely gave away. We made too many

San Diego took a 3-0 lead off Elmer Dessens, who threw 93
pitches in just four innings. Ryan Klesko hit his 13th homer with
two outs in the third, an opposite-field shot to left. Geoff Blum
walked leading off the fourth and Sean Burroughs singled, and both
scored. Blum came in on Miguel Ojeda's groundout and Burroughs on
Lawrence's sacrifice fly.

Dessens allowed three runs, four hits and four walks and struck
out four.

Reliever Derek Thompson pitched three scoreless innings in
relief of Dessens to keep the Dodgers in it. With runners on first
and third and one out in the seventh, he fielded Brian Giles
comebacker and started an inning-ending double play.

"We needed to at least split," Thompson said. "We can't
afford to lose any more ground, especially against this type of
team. It's definitely huge to come back and win that game, to keep
things right where they're at."

Game notes
After starting at catcher four of the last five games, San
Diego's Robert Fick played 1B, the fourth position he's started at
this year. He also was the DH in one interleague game. ... Nick
Hardwick of the San Diego Chargers, wearing a brown Padres
throwback jersey from the early 1980s, delivered the ceremonial
first pitch like any center would, by turning around, bending over
and hiking it to Mark Sweeney.