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Stark holds Dodgers hitless for first five innings

8/31/2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Dave Roberts took one for the team, and the
time it took for him to gather himself was all Los Angeles needed
to get Colorado pitcher Denny Stark off his game.

Jeromy Burnitz's two-run single keyed a four-run sixth as the
Dodgers beat the Rockies 5-0 Saturday night -- after being no-hit by
Stark for five innings.

"Most of the time, if you look at the track record, if a guy
loses a no-hitter, either the game gets out of whack in a hurry --
or he throws a one-hit shutout," Dodgers reliever Paul Shuey said.
"It can go either of two ways. It's just the nature of the beast.
Even if you're going good, it can go that far south."

Roberts broke up the no-hit bid with a single to shortstop Juan
Uribe, who raced to his left to smother the grounder and couldn't
get the throw to first in time.

"The ball was a bullet," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.
"Juan slid to his left, lost it on the turn, but did everything he
could to get him out."

Roberts stole his team-high 35th base -- but his head collided
with second baseman Ronnie Belliard's left knee, and Roberts rolled
over grabbing the back of his neck. He was attended to for several
minutes by assistant trainer Matt Wilson before play resumed, but
came out with a sprained neck after the four-run rally.

"He jarred his neck pretty good," teammate Shawn Green said.
"It's always scary when that happens to the head or neck, and it's
one of the dangers of going in there headfirst."

The delay apparently affected Stark -- who walked Paul Lo Duca
and Green to load the bases before issuing a one-out walk to Adrian
Beltre. Two pitches later, Burnitz hit a liner to right that scored
two more and chased the right-hander. Cora then greeted Aaron Cook
with an RBI single to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.

Stark (2-3), who entered with a 3-0 record and 1.60 ERA against
the Dodgers, was charged with four runs, two hits and a season-high
six walks in 5 1-3 innings.

Guillermo Mota (4-2) got the victory in relief of Kazuhisa
Ishii, helping the Dodgers extend Colorado's road losing streak to
seven games and remain within 1{ games of Florida and Philadelphia
in the NL wild-card race.

Mota, who leads all NL relievers with 87 innings, retired all
six batters he faced and struck out four while lowering his ERA to
1.55 in 62 appearances.

"Mota's been there for us all year. I don't think he's had any
bad slumps at all," said Shuey, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth. "He's
a solid three-pitch guy who's been able to eat through a ton of
innings for us. And a lot of them have been key innings.

"He's got electric stuff. He's gone out there every time
throwing 95-98 and putting it where he wants to. He's got a nasty
changeup that really does rival Eric Gagne's, and he's got a nasty
slider to boot."

Ishii, activated from the disabled list after missing a month
with a sprained left knee, threw 96 pitches over five scoreless
innings and allowed three hits in his first start since July 29.
The left-hander struck out five, tied a career high with six walks
and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth before he was removed
for a pinch hitter.

"When he got into trouble, he would bear down and made pitches
he had to make and held us at bay," said Jay Payton, who was
0-for-4 with two strikeouts after hitting a pair of two-run homers
against Kevin Brown in Friday night's 6-4 loss.

Belliard led off Colorado's fifth with a ground-rule double,
then stayed put as Ishii knocked down Uribe's comebacker and threw
late to first. Todd Helton walked, but Preston Wilson fouled out
and Larry Walker took a called third strike.

"We had our chances with Ishii. He had six walks. But as wild
as he was, he had resolve and found ways to get outs when he needed
to," Hurdle said.

Robin Ventura drove in the Dodgers' fifth run with a
seventh-inning single against Cook.

Game notes
Helton, whose .355 average is second in the league behind
Albert Pujols, walked all four times. ... LHP Victor Alvarez was
optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas to clear a roster spot for Ishii,
who didn't make any minor league rehab starts before returning to
the rotation. ... The game was held up for several moments in the
third after Dodgers C Paul Lo Duca took a foul tip off the base of
the mask with Preston Wilson up. ... The Rockies have lost 25
consecutive road games in which they scored fewer than three runs.
The last time they won under those circumstances was last Sept. 24
at Dodger Stadium, when Stark allowed one hit over seven innings in
a 1-0 win over Odalis Perez.