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Dodgers top Giants, pull even in wild-card race

9/12/2002

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- As usual, Hideo Nomo wanted to talk about
anything but himself.

He left that to manager Jim Tracy, who had plenty to offer on
another solid pitching performance by the Los Angeles Dodgers
right-hander.

Nomo remained perfect in San Francisco and Brian Jordan hit a
three-run homer and drove in four runs as the Dodgers defeated the
Giants 7-3 Wednesday to pull even in the NL wild-card race.

Nomo (14-6) allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings with
eight strikeouts and five walks to improve to 8-0 in San Francisco
and help the Dodgers end a four-game losing streak. They also
snapped a string of five straight wins by the Giants.

''You've heard the word warrior used with this guy,'' Tracy
said. ''All the right words are used with this guy. A battler. He's
never going to give in to you. ... I don't know where this club
would be without the presence of Hideo Nomo. He's obviously become
the mainstay of our rotation.''

Nomo seemed to get stronger after reaching 100 pitches. He gave
way to Paul Shuey after 132 pitches -- a number well below the 180
he once tossed in a game in Japan.

''The games I pitch in I want to win,'' he said, after giving
Jordan the majority of the credit for the crucial victory. ''I
would do whatever it takes for the team.''

Tracy vowed that his struggling Dodgers weren't about to fall
out of the playoff race, and he was right. They still have four
important games left with the Giants, their NL West foes.

Jordan's shot deep into the left-field bleachers highlighted a
four-run fifth against the Giants, whose 5-2 win Tuesday had given
them their first lead in the wild card since Aug. 13.

The chants of ''Beat LA! Beat LA!'' that have been a fixture in
this playoff-type series quickly faded out after Jordan's big hit.
The drive followed a triple by Marquis Grissom, a tiebreaking
double by Paul Lo Duca and a single by Shawn Green. Grissom was
3-for-5, missing hitting for the cycle by a homer.

Giants manager Dusty Baker seemed to make the right call
starting Tom Goodwin in right field in place of regular Reggie
Sanders. Baker thought Goodwin would do better against Nomo, who is
10-3 in 15 career starts against San Francisco.

Goodwin came in hitting .333 in his career (3-for-9) against
Nomo, while Sanders was just 3-for-17 (.176). Goodwin was 2-for-4
with an RBI and a stolen base, and also scored a run, but he didn't
get much help.

The Giants had handed Kevin Brown his first career loss in San
Francisco on Tuesday. They couldn't do it against Nomo, who worked
out of a jam in the third when he loaded the bases with a walk to
David Bell with two outs. Nomo then struck out pitcher Kirk Rueter.

Nomo received plenty of run support, unlike Brown.

''I'm not going to say we were lost,'' Jordan said. ''San
Francisco's pitchers had thrown great. We just knew it was
important to win today to salvage the series and leave with it
even.''

The Dodgers immediately got to Rueter (12-8) following an
emotional pregame tribute to the victims of last year's terrorist
attacks.

The big screen on the center-field scoreboard read ''9.11.01 We
will never forget'' and showed a series of black-and-white photos
from the events of a year ago. Bagpipes skirled, flags were at
half-staff, with a flag of the Fire Department of New York
included, and players walked in a line and surrounded the infield
dirt to salute a huge flag that covered nearly the entire outfield.
It was held by police officers and firefighters.

In place of ceremonial first pitch, the ball was placed on the
mound by John Beaven, who lost his father in the World Trade Center
attacks. Families of eight Bay Area people who lost their lives on
Sept. 11 were present and stood in the infield. Those victims'
names were listed on the big screen. Members of the San Francisco
Fire Department tossed wreaths of white carnations into McCovey
Cove from a fireboat outside the park. White doves were released as
everyone joined together to sing the national anthem.

Rueter allowed back-to-back singles to Grissom and Lo Duca and a
walk to Green to load the bases in the Dodgers' two-run first.
Jordan drove in Grissom on a fielder's choice in which Bell
appeared to step on the base for a forceout, but Lo Duca was called
safe by third base umpire Ed Montague. Lo Duca scored on an Eric
Karros' groundout as the Giants turned a double play to end the
inning.

''It was a very emotional day,'' Rueter said. ''It was very
emotional for all of America. Of course it was on our minds, but I
went out there with my normal stuff. I just go out there and try to
make good pitches. There was one to Brian Jordan I wished I had
back.''

Game notes
Nomo threw a season-high 132 pitches, 78 of which were
strikes. It was a season-high for any Dodger pitcher. ... Barry
Bonds drew his major-league leading 167th walk and hit an RBI
double in the ninth off Eric Gagne. ... RHP Joe Nathan pitched the
ninth for the Giants in his first major league appearance in
exactly two years.