LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Wilson Betemit has been a major disappointment so far this season when used in the Los Angeles Dodgers' starting lineup. He's been exceptional coming off the bench, though.
Betemit's three-run, pinch-hit homer with two outs in the fifth inning drove in the go-ahead runs, and the Dodgers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-4 Wednesday night.Batting for winning pitcher Randy Wolf, Betemit hit a 1-0 pitch from Kip Wells (1-8) over the center-field fence to give the Dodgers a 5-3 lead, and the Los Angeles bullpen limited the Cardinals to one run after that.Betemit is 4-for-5 with three homers as a pinch hitter, and 10-for-67 with one homer otherwise. He began the season as the starting third baseman, but has been splitting time lately with rookie Andy LaRoche."He's been awfully good for us coming off the bench," Dodgers manager Grady Little said. "He's a valuable part of this team."Wolf (5-3) allowed six hits and three runs, two earned, in five innings while walking one and striking out seven. The left-hander threw 89 pitches before Little decided to hit for him with two on and two outs in the fifth."We're probably looking for one more inning max out of him," Little said. "We had a chance to score some runs, and we took it."Betemit's bat did the talking for him on this night -- he left the clubhouse before reporters arrived.Wolf spoke on his behalf."As a competitor, you want to stay out there -- five innings isn't exactly what you want to do," Wolf said. "I think Grady had a good feeling about Wilson, and it turned out great. Wilson came up and he got the big hit of the night."The win was the fifth in six games for the Dodgers, putting them a season-high nine games over .500, and their second straight over St. Louis following a 10-game losing streak to the Cardinals.Takashi Saito, the fifth Dodgers pitcher, worked the ninth for his second save in two nights and 13th of the season. He has converted 23 straight opportunities dating to last year.Wells has lost his last seven starts, allowing 37 earned runs in 39 innings for an 8.54 ERA during that stretch. He leads the NL in losses and earned runs allowed (39).Wells gave up six hits and five runs in five innings while walking a season-high six and striking out five. He threw 125 pitches -- an average of 25 per inning."He made a mistake to Betemit, and that's three runs," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "But Kip worked as hard as he could and just made that one mistake. At that point, I figured he deserved to face Betemit. I had somebody up, but he earned the right to face him."Wells' pitch count was the third-highest of his career."I was trying to let it all hang out," he said. "For the most part, I made good pitches. But the ball Betemit hit was a changeup that was probably middle-in. I wouldn't expect the guy to hit it out of the ballpark, but he did."Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal, who had four hits in each of the previous three games, went 1-for-4 with a walk. The major league record for consecutive four-hit games is four, set by Brooklyn's Milt Stock in 1925.Furcal has 15 hits in his last 20 at-bats dating to Saturday, raising his batting average from .214 to .295.Furcal sliced Wells' second pitch of the game into the left-field corner for a double, went to third on an infield out and scored on a single by Nomar Garciaparra.The Cardinals went ahead 3-1 in the third with some help from the Dodgers, scoring on a two-out RBI single by Aaron Miles, a wild pitch and catcher Russell Martin's throwing error on the play.Juan Pierre's two-out RBI single in the fourth trimmed the Cardinals' lead to 3-2. Wells later struck out Jeff Kent with the bases loaded to end the inning.The Cardinals scored their final run in the seventh on pinch-hitter Scott Spiezio's two-out RBI single off Joe Beimel.
The Dodgers stranded eight baserunners against Wells in the first four innings, but only one after that. ... Taking into account that left-handed hitters were batting only .179 against the left-handed Wolf, La Russa started eight right-handed batters and one switch-hitter. ... Garciaparra, the Dodgers' first baseman, had two putouts in the first inning. In Wolf's previous start, Garciaparra became the 24th first baseman in big league history and the first for the Dodgers to go an entire game without a putout. ... Cardinals C Yadier Molina doubled in the third to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games. ... Furcal entered with 14 hits in his last 16 at-bats, becoming the first major leaguer to accomplish that feat since Derek Bell in April 2000.