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Artful Dodger: Sele tames Giants, now 6-0 at home

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- After spending the first month of the season
in the minor leagues, Aaron Sele has given the Los Angeles Dodgers'
shaky starting rotation quite a boost.

Fact is, the 36-year-old right-hander has been unbeatable at
home.

Sele worked six strong innings, Nomar Garciaparra extended his
hitting streak to 21 games, and the Dodgers beat All-Star Jason Schmidt and the San Francisco Giants 3-1 Sunday.

Sele (6-2) allowed four hits and one run while walking two and
striking out a season-high seven before being relieved by Brad Penny to start the seventh. Sele is 6-0 with a 1.65 ERA in seven
starts at Dodger Stadium this season.

"This guy throws strikes," Dodgers manager Grady Little said.
"He changes speeds and throws strikes. That's the No. 1 ingredient
to winning baseball."

Sele, who went 6-12 for the Seattle Mariners last season, has no
explanation for his remarkable success at home.

"I like pitching with this team behind me," he said. "Teams
usually put the ball in play against me. The guys play great
defense."

As Little pointed out, Sele is anything but overpowering. His
fastball rarely rises above 85 mph, and most of his strikeouts come
on off-speed pitches.

Sele has had a much tougher time on the road, going 0-2 with a
4.71 ERA in four starts.

The Dodgers enter the All-Star break with a 46-42 record and
trail NL West-leading San Diego by two games.

"We're right where we need to be," Sele said. "Everybody's
bunched up. We've got a good chance going into the second half."

The Giants are 45-44 after going 5-6 on a season-high 11-game
road trip, and trail the Padres by 3.5 games.

Penny, an All-Star who hadn't pitched since Wednesday, retired
only one batter in the second relief appearance of his career,
leaving with runners at first and second. The Giants loaded the
bases with two outs on Jose Vizcaino's infield hit before Moises Alou grounded into a force play against Danys Baez, the third
pitcher of the inning.

It was the second time Alou failed to come through with two outs
and the bases loaded.

"I felt real good about my last at-bat, but I was very upset I
couldn't lift the ball," Alou said. "He threw me some fastballs
to hit. One I got under it, and the one I grounded out on I hit
real hard, but right at the shortstop. My second time with the
bases loaded and I don't produce, you have to be upset."

Takashi Saito, the fifth Dodgers pitcher, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth
for his eighth save in as many chances.

Schmidt (6-5) allowed seven hits and three runs in six innings
with one walk and three strikeouts. He hasn't won since June 6,
going 0-3 with three no-decisions.

"We didn't give him anything to work with," Giants manager
Felipe Alou said. "Nobody's happy about it."

Barry Bonds returned to the Giants' lineup after taking Saturday
off because of a sore right knee and went 1-for-4. He has 720
career homers, 35 behind all-time leader Henry Aaron.

The Dodgers scored all the runs they would need in the first.
Rafael Furcal singled, and scored on Cesar Izturis' double. Izturis
took third on Garciaparra's fly to right, and scored on Andre Ethier's sacrifice fly.

After getting only two baserunners in the first four innings,
the Giants scored in the fifth on a two-out, bases-loaded single by
Omar Vizquel. Sele then retired Alou on a popup.

Garciaparra, hitting .358 and tied for the NL batting lead with
Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez, singled to start the sixth and later
scored on a single by Jose Cruz Jr. to complete the scoring.

"I'm not worried about it," Garciaparra said of his hitting
streak. "You just go out and keep playing. Today the biggest
at-bat for me was the first one, moving the guy over."

Game notes
Garciaparra had a career-high 30-game hitting streak as a
rookie with the Boston Red Sox in 1997. ... Bonds and Alou were in
the San Francisco lineup together for just the 24th time this
season. The Giants are 14-10 in those games. ... Dodgers 2B Jeff Kent sat out his sixth game because of a strained muscle in his
left side, and CF Kenny Lofton missed his second game due to
tightness in his right hamstring. ... Sele capped an 11-pitch
at-bat against Schmidt by hitting a broken-bat single in the third.
... Bonds is 1-for-8 with four strikeouts against Sele in his
career. ... Vizquel was replaced on the bases by Vizcaino in the
fifth because of tightness in his left hamstring. He's listed as
day to day. ... J.D. Drew was held out of the Dodgers' starting
lineup. Ethier replaced him, batting cleanup for the first time as
a major leaguer. ... San Francisco's Ray Durham, who had two hits
including a three-run homer and scored four times Saturday, struck
out in each of his three at-bats against Sele, and flied to right
against Baez.