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Streaking Dodgers send 'Stros to sixth straight loss

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The offense is finally coming around for the
Los Angeles Dodgers, and Brett Tomko has been solid every five
days. Now, if there was only something manager Grady Little could
do about that bullpen of his.

Tomko allowed just one infield hit over six scoreless innings,
and the Dodgers held on Wednesday night for a 9-6 victory over the
Houston Astros that extended their winning streak to five games.

"We feel pretty good about winning five in a row, but we know
that the best part of our season is still to come," Little said
after the Dodgers handed the defending NL champions their sixth
straight loss. "We like the way we're swinging the bats right now,
but we've got a few things to iron out in the bullpen."

Jeff Kent and Rafael Furcal hit three-run homers and Nomar
Garciaparra added a solo drive for the Dodgers, whose winning
streak comes after a five-game skid. They have scored 31 runs their
last three games, two more than they had in their previous seven.

"We've got a lot of experienced guys who don't care about the
highs and lows," Kent said. "That's what's great about this game.
Sometime you get them, sometimes they get you. You play 15 years
and you still can't figure it out."

Tim Hamulack relieved Tomko in the seventh and gave up three
runs, two on a double by pinch-hitter Eric Bruntlett and the other
on a broken-bat infield hit by Willy Taveras. Lance Berkman hit his
12th homer in the ninth, a three-run shot off Franquelis Osoria.
But Danys Baez came on and struck out Morgan Ensberg and Preston
Wilson to end it.

"It's not something we think about," Tomko said of the
bullpen's recent woes. "Our job is to go out there and go as long
as we can and then give it up to them.

"Everybody slumps. Hitters slump, Starters slump, bullpens have
days where they don't go out and do it, but it's not something we
sit around worrying about. Besides, there's going to be plenty of
games where we give it up and they're going to get us out of some
jams. That stuff all evens out."

Wilson's slow bouncer to third baseman Bill Mueller with two out
in the fourth was Houston's only hit against Tomko (4-1), who
struck out three and walked three. He was lifted after 104 pitches.

"I would have liked to have gone out and try to get another
inning or something, but Grady wants me to get a little rest. And
I'm fine with that," Tomko said. "I've thrown a lot of pitches in
my last four games, so it would be good to take a little bit of a
breather."

Wilson's hit originally was ruled an error, but the official
scorer changed it to a hit a half-inning later.

Taylor Buchholz (2-2) allowed eight runs and 12 hits over 4 1-3
innings in his fifth major league start, after giving up no more
than two earned runs in any of the previous four. The right-hander
came in with a 2.16 ERA and had limited opposing hitters to a major
league-low .154 batting average.

Kent, who also hit a three-run homer the Dodgers' 12-7 win
Tuesday night, made it 3-0 in the first with a two-out drive into
the left-field pavilion after singles by Kenny Lofton and J.D.
Drew. Kent's third homer of the season increased his career RBI
total to 1,333, tying Hall of Famer Duke Snider for 75th place on
baseball's career list.

Furcal made it 6-0 in the second with his second homer of the
season after singles by rookie Andre Ethier and Tomko.

"We're going to have to stop them from scoring here pretty
soon, and we've got to keep them in the ballpark once in a while,"
Houston manager Phil Garner said.

Game notes
Snider was at the game to autograph copies of his new book,
"Few and Chosen: Defining Dodger Greatness Across the Eras." ...
Wilson improved to 6-for-15 in his career against Tomko. ...
Wednesday marked the seventh anniversary of the night Garciaparra
hit two grand slams and a two-run shot for Boston against Seattle
at Fenway Park. It happened just 17 days after the Dodgers' Chan Ho
Park gave up two grand slams in one game to St. Louis' Fernando
Tatis at Dodger Stadium. ... Dodgers OF Jason Repko was placed on
the 15-day DL because of a high ankle sprain. Switch-hitting INF
Willy Aybar was recalled from the Dodgers' Triple-A Las Vegas club
and replaced Mueller at 3B in the seventh.