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Nippert gets first major-league win for D-Backs

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers are assured of their
worst finish in 12 seasons.

Alex Cintron drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly,
Dustin Nippert allowed one hit over five innings for his first
major league victory and the Arizona Diamondbacks spoiled Los
Angeles' home finale with a 3-2 victory Thursday night.

"It's hard to believe that we won the division last year and
this year we're out of it," losing pitcher Odalis Perez said.
"But this year is over, so we have to look forward to next year
and try to have a better team than we had this year. It's
frustrating to know you have three games left and then you go
home."

The Diamondbacks won the season series 13-5 after going 3-16
against Los Angeles last season. They were 8-1 at Dodger Stadium,
becoming the first team to beat the Dodgers eight times in Los
Angeles in one year.

"I think every game we played these guys in the first two
series came down to the last pitch," Arizona manager Bob Melvin
said. "But they've had a rash of injuries. Anytime you lose your
closer and some of your best players, it's tough, but they
continually battled. We're happy about the fact that we won some
games against them. If we didn't, our record wouldn't be as good as
it is right now."

The Dodgers lost as many as seven home games to one team in the
a season 11 times, but only twice over the last 35 years. The San
Diego Padres held a 7-3 edge at Chavez Ravine in 2002.

"To come in here and beat those guys on their home field, it's
very gratifying," Quinton McCracken said. "Anytime you can play
well against such a fabled organization, it's a good feeling --
especially when it's been a down year for both teams."

Arizona's eighth straight win over Los Angeles assured the
Dodgers of finishing lower than third in the NL West for the first
time since 1993. The Diamondbacks lead the Dodgers by five games
with three to play.

"After experiencing as a manager what we went through a year
ago, seeing some of those champagne parties that have taken place
over the last couple of days has been pretty painful -- to the point
where I turn the television set off," said manager Jim Tracy, who
guided the team to 93 victories last season. "I don't want to
watch it because I've experienced it firsthand and I know what it
feels like. So now, it's not a whole lot of fun to watch."

The crowd of 45,053 on Jeff Kent bobblehead night pushed the
Dodgers' home attendance to 3,603,646, the second-highest total in
franchise history and just 5,235 shy of their 1982 total. Despite
the team's worst overall record in 13 years, this is the first
season since 1983 that every home game drew at least 30,000.

The injury-ravaged Dodgers, who last season won their first
division title in 16 years, are limping to the finish line in more
ways than one with a 70-89 record. They finished their home
schedule 40-41, only their fifth losing record at home since moving
from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958. The worst was 37-44 (1992 and
1999).

Nippert (1-0) struck out six and walked five in his third big
league start, allowing one run on a fourth-inning RBI single by
Jayson Werth. The 24-year-old right-hander was promoted this month
from Double-A Tennessee, where he led the Southern League with a
2.38 ERA. He didn't make his season debut until May 29, after
recovering from Tommy John surgery on his elbow in July 2004.

Brandon Lyon pitched the ninth for his 14th save, allowing
Dioner Navarro's third homer.

Perez, making his second start since Aug. 17 and limited to four
innings before the game by Tracy, made the most of his 2005 finale
by allowing one hit and retiring 12 of his 14 batters before rookie
Franquelis Osoria (0-3) took over.

After Royce Clayton opened the game with a single, the
Diamondbacks did not get another hit until McCracken --
pinch-hitting for Nippert -- singled leading off the sixth. It was
the Diamondbacks' major league-leading 62nd pinch-hit and the 18th
for McCracken, one shy of the club record set by Carlos Baerga in
2003.

One out later, Hong-Chih Kuo relieved and McCracken advanced to
second on a balk. He scored on a double by Luis Gonzalez, who came
home on Cintron's sacrifice fly, giving Arizona a 2-1 lead. Luis
Terrero was hit by rookie Jonathan Broxton's pitch with the bases
loaded in the eighth, forcing home Arizona's third run.

Game notes
The Diamondbacks had never won more than six games in an
opponent's ballpark. They were 6-3 at San Francisco in 2001. ...
For the first season since 1999, no Dodgers pitcher hit a home run
at Chavez Ravine.