<
>

Kent saves day: HR in ninth ends Dodgers' skid

PHOENIX (AP) -- The prospect of another long night in Arizona
ended with one big swing from Jeff Kent.

His towering shot to left leading off the ninth inning was the
difference and the Los Angeles Dodgers snapped a four-game losing
streak by beating the Diamondbacks 4-3 Saturday night.

"Going down the stretch, all these games are going to mean
something," Kent said. "You hate to waste opportunities, and I'm
glad we didn't waste one tonight."

Kent's home run on a 3-2 pitch from Luis Vizcaino (3-4) put the
Dodgers back on top after Arizona had rallied from a 3-1 deficit to
tie it and raised the prospect of another extra-inning game. The
two went 15 innings Friday night with Arizona winning 9-7.

"That home run couldn't have been any bigger, any better for
us," said Dodgers starter Derek Lowe, who left the game after
getting struck in the left hand by a line drive in the fourth
inning. "The last thing we could have wanted is to go extra
innings."

Jonathan Broxton (3-0) threw one pitch, a lineout by Johnny
Estrada to end the eighth, to get the victory.

Takashi Saito, who blew his second save of the season Friday
night, pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th save.

Los Angeles remained one game ahead of second-place San Diego in
the NL West. The Padres won at Colorado. Arizona fell four games
back with its fifth loss in six games.

Lowe lasted only 3 2/3 innings before leaving with a bruised
hand. Lowe, winner of four of his last five starts, was struck by
Chad Tracy's line drive. X-rays were negative.

Manager Grady Little was confident Lowe would make his next
start, especially since the injury was not to his pitching hand.
Lowe wasn't so sure.

"The problem we're going to have right now is I still can't
move my thumb," he said. "We were kind of told to just play it by
ear. Luckily we have an off day Thursday so my scheduled start
wasn't until next Friday. Hopefully it won't be a problem, but you
don't know."

Lowe allowed a run and five hits, three of them infield singles.

With Arizona's bullpen spent from Friday night's marathon,
Miguel Batista went eight innings, allowing three runs and only
four hits. He blanked Los Angeles without a hit the last four
innings.

Orlando Hudson, who hit the game-winning homer Friday night, was
3-for-4, including an RBI single to tie it at 3 in the eighth. But
he blamed himself for the loss because of a baserunning blunder in
the fourth inning.

Hudson led off the Arizona fourth with a double, but failed to
tag up and take third on Luis Gonzalez's flyout to deep center.

"I thought it was going off the wall, I really did," Hudson
said, "but the first thing I should think about is tagging, and we
lose by that run. A bad baserunning mistake and we lose by that."

Moments later, Hudson was thrown out trying to steal.

Nomar Garciaparra's two-out single past diving first baseman
Tony Clark brought in two runs in the third.

The Dodgers added a run in the fourth when Andre Ethier doubled
off the Arizona bullpen fence in left, then scored from third when
shortstop Craig Counsell fielded Lowe's grounder for what should
have been a routine inning-ending out. But Counsell chose to toss
it to second for the force, and Hudson didn't get to the bag on
time.

Lefty Joe Beimel relieved the injured Lowe and gave up
consecutive singles to Estrada and Clark. Clark's grounder up the
middle brought Tracy home from second to cut the lead to 3-1.

The Diamondbacks made it 3-2 in the seventh. Estrada led off
with a double down the right-field line, took third on Clark's
flyout to deep right, then scored on Counsell's sacrifice fly to
center.

Just as they did Friday night, the Diamondbacks tied it in the
eighth. Stephen Drew led off with a pinch-hit single off Brett
Tomko, was sacrificed to second and scored on Hudson's single up
the middle.

Game notes
The crowd of 40,358 was Arizona's largest at home this
season. ... Counsell got his first start since coming off the
disabled list. ... The Dodgers were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring
position and are 2-for-15 in the first two games of the series. ...
Lowe also was hurt by a line drive at Arizona early last season.