Dodgers lead Giants by 1½ games

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers scored enough runs
early that they survived their nightly pitching misadventure and
headed to San Francisco with a 1½-game lead in the NL West race.

Cesar Izturis homered and Adrian Beltre had three hits and two
runs for the Dodgers, who survived a shaky start by Kazuhisa Ishii
and beat San Diego 9-6 on Thursday night.

San Francisco lost 7-3 to Houston. The Dodgers and Giants open a
three-game series Friday night in San Francisco.

"Tonight's game was huge, obviously, because of what happened
in San Francisco," said manager Jim Tracy, whose Dodgers play San
Francisco six times in their last 10 games.

"I think they have a complete realization of the fact that
everything's in front of them," Tracy said. "They don't have to
look to the side, they don't have to look behind them. If they want
to win the National League Western Division championship, it's
staring them right in the face."

The Dodgers, whose rotation has struggled, won for just the
fourth time in 11 games since Sept. 11, when they had a six-game

"It was a big game for us," Izturis said. "We have to go up
there and do our job, try to win games and win the series. I know
they're going to be tough, especially in San Francisco."

The Padres' playoffs hopes grew bleaker; they fell 5½ games
behind the Dodgers and 4½ games behind the Chicago Cubs in the
wild-card race.

The Dodgers knocked out Brian Lawrence -- starting on three days'
rest because David Wells was sick -- after four innings and went up
7-0 in the fifth.

The Padres then rallied for four runs with two outs in the fifth
off Ishii, who has been demoted twice in the last two months and
was pitching for the first time in 13 days.

Ishii dodged several jams until he got to the fifth, when he
walked the bases full before allowing Rich Aurilia's three-run
double to center, which eluded a diving Steve Finley. Ishii walked
Ryan Klesko and was relieved by Elmer Dessens, who allowed Ramon
Hernandez's RBI single. Klesko was thrown out trying to score from
second on Ramon Vazquez's single to left.

Ishii hadn't pitched since Sept. 10, when he allowed four runs
on four hits in 2 1/3 innings against St. Louis. Against the
Padres, he allowed four runs and four hits in 4 2/3 innings, while
walking six and striking out five.

Rookie Yhency Brazoban (3-0) pitched two scoreless innings for
the win. Eric Gagne pitched a perfect eighth before allowing three
singles and two sacrifice flies in the ninth. He held on for his
43rd save in 45 chances, the fourth two-inning save of his career.

Lawrence (15-13) pitched on three days' rest for the second
straight start. He allowed five runs, four earned, and six hits in
four innings. He struck out two and walked one.

Izturis homered to right leading off the third, his fourth, and
Finley had an RBI double. The Dodgers made it 5-0 in the fourth
when Izturis and Brent Mayne each had a sacrifice fly and another
run scored on a fielding error by second baseman Mark Loretta.

"We never should have been at that point," Padres slugger Phil
Nevin said.

The Padres had plenty of chances early against Ishii, but went
0-for-7 with runners in scoring position over the first three
innings, stranding five.

"To me, that was the game," Nevin said. "We had a pitcher on
the mound, I think it's safe to say, he was pretty low in
confidence, taken in and out of the rotation."

Game notes
Gagne is 15-for-15 in career save chances against San
Diego, and had not allowed a run to the Padres until Thursday. ...
Los Angeles slugger Shawn Green will sit out Saturday afternoon's
game at San Francisco in observance of Yom Kippur. He'll play
Friday night, even though the holiest day on the Jewish calendar
starts at sunset Friday. ... Loretta singled to center in the first
inning for his 200th hit. He and Tony Gwynn are the only Padres
players to get that many hits in a season. Gwynn did it five times,
including a club-record 220 hits in 1997.