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L.A. gets fourth straight win

9/9/2003 - Cesar Izturis

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers' offense is breaking
loose after a season of struggle and closing in on the leaders in
the NL wild-card chase.

Cesar Izturis went a career-best 5-for-5 and just missed hitting
for the cycle Monday night in the Dodgers' 10-3 victory over the
Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Dodgers, winners of four in a row and nine of 11, moved
within two games of wild-card leaders Florida and Philadelphia.

"We've been a good ballclub this year," manager Jim Tracy
said. "But with what's happening right now offensively, we're an
excellent team. We're a very tough team to beat."

Jeromy Burnitz put Los Angeles ahead 6-3 with a three-run homer
in the eighth, then Shawn Green sealed it with his sixth career
grand slam in the ninth.

The Dodgers have scored 10 runs just three times all season, but
two have come in the last three games.

"They got a lot of offense from the top of the order,
especially Izturis," Arizona manager Bob Brenly said. "It seems
like they had something going every inning."

The Dodgers trail the wild-card leaders by just one game in the
loss column with 20 to play.

The Diamondbacks remained six back with 18 left.

"For us, losing every game is losing ground because it's one
more day off the schedule," Luis Gonzalez said, "and we're
running out of time."

Leading off in place of injured Dave Roberts, Izturis tripled
and scored in the first, hit a two-run homer in the second and
singled in the fifth.

He hit one into the right-field gap in the seventh and tried to
stretch it into a double to complete the cycle, but was barely
thrown out by center fielder Steve Finley, sliding head first with
the tag applied by shortstop Alex Cintron.

Replays showed that the throw beat Izturis, but the tag was high
and he might have been safe.

"I saw the replay. I was safe, but it was a bam-bam play,"
Izturis said. "I could have been called safe or out."

Guillermo Mota (6-2) pitched 1 1/3 innings of relief to get the
victory.

Shea Hillenbrand, in his second career at-bat against Kevin Brown, tied the game with a three-run homer in the fourth after Cintron barely beat out what would have been an inning-ending double play.

Arizona reliever Oscar Villarreal (7-7), in his 78th appearance
of the season, walked Fred McGriff with one out in the eighth, then
gave up a single to Adrian Beltre. Burnitz followed with his 27th
homer of the season, an opposite-field shot to left, to put the
Dodgers up 6-3.

"I was out of whack pretty much all day, swinging at some bad
pitches and stuff," Burnitz said. "I just tried to stay behind
the ball and get a pitch to drive. He threw me a little fastball
away and I just put a really nice swing on it."

After reliever Stephen Randolph intentionally walked Paul Lo Duca to load the bases with no outs in the ninth, Green hit a 420-foot smash to right-center, his 15th homer and the Dodgers' second slam of the season.

"It's a frustrating night for us," Gonzalez said. "We were in
a 3-3 game feeling pretty good about it, then we just fell apart."

The Dodgers nearly pulled off a slick relay play to start the
fourth when Junior Spivey grounded up the middle, second baseman
Alex Cora gloved the ball and flipped it in the same motion to the
shortstop Izturis, whose throw to first was just late.

Luis Gonzalez singled to put runners on first and second with no
outs.

Brown struck out Raul Mondesi, and Cintron grounded into what
looked like a routine double play. But Cora's relay throw to first
was just late.

That brought up Hillenbrand, who belted Brown's 1-1 pitch 409
feet into the left-field seats, his 13th homer since he came in a
trade from Boston on May 29.

Brown, seeking his 14th victory, allowed three runs on four hits
in six innings. He struck out five and walked two. Miguel Batista
gave up three runs on nine hits in seven innings, striking out
seven and walking one.

Game notes
Villarreal tied the Diamondbacks record for appearances in a season. He and the Dodgers' Paul Quantrill lead the majors with 78 appearances. Quantrill got one out in the eighth. ... Roberts didn't start for the fifth consecutive game because of a neck sprain but came on as a pinch-runner in the eighth then stayed to play center field. ... Dodgers' RHP Andy Ashby went back to Los Angeles for examination of an inflamed right elbow.