Second straight shutout for L.A.


LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kevin Brown and Shawn Green were the ones the
Los Angeles Dodgers were counting on to lead them to their first
postseason berth in seven years.

Both appear ready to help them make the final push.

Brown combined with two relievers on a six-hitter and Green
homered as the Dodgers shut out the San Diego Padres for the second
straight game, 4-0 Saturday night.

Los Angeles' 12th victory in 16 games kept the Dodgers 3 games
behind Florida in the NL wild-card race and put them within a game
of second-place Philadelphia. Despite this current stretch, they
have gained ground on the wild-card leader only twice.

"It's a little frustrating," Green said. "But at the same
time, we keep winning and try to take care of our business. That's
all we can do. Hopefully we'll sneak in there.

"Florida's playing really well right now, but they've got a
tough road ahead. I know they've got to play Philly quite a bit and
Atlanta a few more times. So if we win our games, I think we'll
have a good shot."

One night after Wilson Alvarez beat the Padres 6-0 with a
three-hitter for his first shutout in six seasons, Brown (14-8)
scattered six singles over seven innings. He struck out nine,
walked two and stranded six.

The Dodgers' starting pitchers have thrown 33 consecutive
scoreless innings.

"I'm just glad to be a part of it," Brown said. "It was just
a huge relief to have a couple of runs early. Thankfully, I was
able to do something with it and keep them off the board."

The turning point for the right-hander came quickly. Sean Burroughs and Mark Loretta opened the game with singles and were on
second and third when Brown caught a broken-bat liner by Gary Matthews Jr. for the third out.

"Brown seems to be particularly good at that," said Loretta,
who was 3-for-3 against Brown. "When he gets in jams, he bears
down and makes his best pitches."

Tom Martin and Eric Gagne pitched a scoreless inning of
relief apiece.

It was the second time in two weeks that the Dodgers had
consecutive shutouts; they beat Colorado 5-0 and 3-0 at home Aug. 30-31. The Padres were blanked in back-to-back games for the
first time since July 25-26 of last season, when the Diamondbacks
beat them 10-0 and 12-0 at Arizona.

The Dodgers' 15th shutout tied them with Seattle for best in the
majors and lowered their team ERA to 3.05 -- also the best in the
big leagues. They haven't finished a season with an ERA under 3.00
since 1989 (2.98).

Jake Peavy (11-11) allowed four runs and seven hits over four
innings. One of the runs was unearned because of Loretta's fielding
error at second base.

Green, who has been playing with an ailing right shoulder since
spring training, has homered in five of his last six games to raise
his season total to 17.

"He never makes excuses, and he never did," teammate Paul Lo
Duca said. "But he's the kind of guy who can carry a team, and
hopefully we can lean on him."

Green hit a two-run shot to right in the first, then flied out
to the fence in the second inning with the bases loaded. It would
have been Green's second grand slam in six games.

His next time up, Green flied out to the edge of the warning

"My swing is a lot better right now, and my shoulder feels
pretty good right now," Green said. "In August, I was getting a
lot of hits, but I just wasn't getting any home runs."

Alex Cora drove in the Dodgers' third run with a sacrifice fly
in the third, and Lo Duca made it 4-0 in the fourth with an RBI
single after Dave Roberts reached on Loretta's error and stole

Game notes
Loretta's three singles made him 10-for-28 lifetime against
Brown. ... Brown, who set a Padres single-season record with 257
strikeouts in 1998, hasn't pitched in a postseason game since the
'98 World Series -- when the Yankees beat him in Game 4 to complete
a sweep of San Diego. ... Brown's win total is his highest since
1999, when he recorded his second consecutive 18-win season. Since
then, he has been on the disabled list seven times totaling 210
days and is 40-22 in 92 starts with a 2.75 ERA. ... The Padres have been outscored 106-62 in the first inning. Last season they were outscored 119-87. ... Peavy entered the game as the only member of the Padres' rotation with a winning record, winning 10 of 15 decisions after the Padres had lost each of his previous eight starts (0-4).