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Streaking Nomar delivers Dodgers' win over Rockies

DENVER (AP) -- Right-hander Brett Tomko had never seen home plate
quite so up-close.

Nomar Garciaparra singled home the go-ahead run in the seventh,
scoring Tomko, whose headfirst slide was the highlight of the
evening as he won for the first time at Colorado's ballpark when
the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Rockies 5-4 Monday night.

"I don't know when the last time I did a headfirst slide, it
might have been softball in college," Tomko said. "It might have
been instinct to get away from the ball."

Garciaparra extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an RBI
single off rookie Ramon Ramirez, who hadn't given up a run in his
first 15 1/3 innings covering 11 appearances but allowed three runs
in just 1/3 of an inning.

"He's going to give up some runs in the big leagues sooner or
later. Tonight just happened to be the night," Colorado manager
Clint Hurdle said.

Ramirez was philosophical about the end to the longest scoreless
streak by a Rockies reliever to being a major league career.

"It's just a game and tonight wasn't my night," said Ramirez,
whose ERA jumped to 1.72.

Ramirez (2-1) replaced starter Josh Fogg to start the seventh
and issued a leadoff walk to Tomko. Rafael Furcal followed with a
single and one out later, Garciaparra singled to right and Tomko
scored to break a 2-all tie when Brad Hawpe's throw pulled Danny
Ardoin off the plate just enough to miss the tag.

"It's fun to get dirty sometimes," Tomko said. "I don't know
about a headfirst slide. I'll probably get reprimanded, but you've
got to do what you've got to do."

Ray King came in and surrendered a two-run double to J.D. Drew
that made it 5-2.

Tomko (5-1) allowed three runs, two earned, on five hits and one
walk in seven innings.

He had lost his previous four decisions in downtown Denver's
spacious ballpark and got off to a rough start again, allowing an
unearned run in the first and an RBI double to Clint Barmes in the
second before settling down and retiring 15 straight batters before
Hawpe's ninth homer cut LA's lead to 5-3 in the seventh.

Takashi Saito pitched the final two innings, giving up Matt
Holliday's 11th homer in the ninth before finishing up for his
first career save.

Dodgers manager Grady Little said he was going to use both Saito
and Danys Baez in closing situations until Eric Gagne returns to
the bullpen later this month.

Jeff Kent added three doubles as the Dodgers (20-19) moved above
.500 for the first time since April 10.

Garciaparra, who signed with Los Angeles during the offseason,
strained his right side during the Dodgers' final spring training
game and was put on the disabled list. Since his return, he's
knocked in 23 runs in 21 games, and during his hitting streak, he
he's batting .443 (19 for 43) and has 14 RBI and the Dodgers are
8-2.

"I'm happy to be playing. I'm happy to where I'm at. Happy to
be with this club," Garciaparra said. "That's the way it is."

Although the former All-Star shortstop is playing first base for
the first time in his major league career, he's the only first
baseman in the National League with at least 100 chances who hasn't
committed an error.

He did, however, bobble a foul ball off the Barmes' bat in the
fourth that fell into the Rockies' dugout.

Fogg had trouble finding the plate, throwing 46 strikes and 47
balls. He allowed Jose Cruz Jr.'s second homer of the season, a
solo shot in the second, then allowed Kent's double down the
left-field line that scored Garciaparra to tie it at 2-all in the
sixth.

The Rockies scored an unearned run in the first. Saenz overthrew
first base on a groundball to third by Luis Gonzalez, who ended up
at second and scored on Garrett Atkins' single that barely eluded
shortstop Furcal.

"I laughed about it a little because that's this place," Tomko
said. "I've seen some crazy stuff happen here."

And sliding headfirst into home plate topped them all.

Game notes
Kent's only other three-double game of his career came on
Sept. 18, 1998, against the Dodgers while he was with the Giants.
... Rockies RHP Jose Mesa pitched a scoreless eighth, giving him 20
career scoreless innings against Los Angeles, the only team which
hasn't scored on him.