LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers didn't look at this
series against the Boston Red Sox as a possible World Series
preview -- or even a measuring stick against the team that came to
town with baseball's best record.
But their three-game sweep of the first series between the teams
since the 1916 World Series, capped by Sunday's 9-6 victory, put
Los Angeles alone atop the NL West for the first time since Aug. 10
of last season, and dropped the Red Sox out of first place in the
AL East for the first time since April 15.
"I don't even think we worried about those guys having the best
record,'' Dodgers left fielder Brian Jordan said. "We just caught
them at a good time. They haven't been playing well lately, and we
"The chemistry here has been great, and that's the key,'' said
Jordan, who came to the Dodgers last winter from Atlanta along with
left-hander Odalis Pezez in a trade for Gary Sheffield.
"You can have a bunch of superstars on your team, but if the
chemistry's not there, you're not going to win. Right now our bench
players have given us a boost, and they're always ready. And when
you've got guys pulling for each other and having fun, you can go a
Dave Hansen drove in three runs in a rare start at first base.
Cesar Izturis and reserve catcher Chad Kreuter each had two RBI
for the Dodgers (46-28), who are 18 games over .500 for the first
time since Sept. 8, 1997 (81-63).
Hansen, who needs three pinch-hits to break Manny Mota's
franchise record of 106, is 7-for-25 with eight RBIs in his eight
starts at first and third base.
"You don't go out and find Dave Hansens every day,'' Dodgers
manager Jim Tracy said. "He's tremendous, as far as preparation is
concerned. You know you're going to get the very best he has to
offer, no matter what situation you put him in.''
Before the game, Tracy vowed he would not use major league save
leader Eric Gagne under any circumstances, following his fourth
save in as many days. The offense settled that issue early, staking
Andy Ashby to a 9-0 lead with four runs in the second inning and
five in the third.
Ashby (7-6) won for the fifth time in seven decisions, allowing
five runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. He also had an RBI
Rickey Henderson hit an RBI single in the fifth, and the Red Sox
got home runs from Carlos Baerga and pinch-hitter Juan Diaz during
a four-run sixth. Diaz's two-run shot was his first homer in the
big leagues, and it chased Ashby after 104 pitches.
"I would have liked to have given us a few more innings,
especially with the offense coming out and scoring that many
runs,'' said Ashby, who got as much run support in this outing as
he received in his previous four starts combined.
Guillermo Mota relieved and gave up just one hit in 2 1/3
"We just got in too big of a hole to make it up today,'' Boston
manager Grady Little said. "It was a rocky road right from the
Rolando Arrojo (4-2) was charged with nine runs and nine hits in
2 1/3 innings, after allowing only four earned runs over 25 innings
in his previous four starts this season. The right-hander moved
into the rotation June 1 when an ineffective Darren Oliver was
demoted to the bullpen.
"I think we might have gotten a little predictable, but they
did a good job of hitting,'' Boston catcher Jason Varitek said.
"They had a good plan against him and they stuck with it. We need
to maybe take a look at it and change programs.''
Jordan led off the second with a single to left and advanced to
third when the ball squirted through Henderson's legs for a
two-base error. Hansen followed with an RBI single, and Arrojo
walked two batters before giving up a two-out RBI single to Dave
Roberts and a two-run single by Izturis.
Arrojo gave up hits to his first four batters in the third --
including a two-run single by Hansen, who started at first base
while Eric Karros got the day off.
Dodgers catcher Paul Lo Duca also got the day off and was
replaced by Kreuter, whose two-run double gave Los Angeles an 8-0
cushion and chased Arrojo. Ashby greeted Oliver with an RBI single
that capped the five-run third.
Flags at Dodger Stadium were at half-staff in memory of St.
Louis Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile, who was honored with a moment
of silence before the game. ... Arrojo threw 58 pitches -- one fewer
than Gagne threw during his four saves in four days. ... The Red
Sox, needing a situational left-hander, obtained Alan Embree in a
four-player deal with San Diego, but won't have to drop a player
from the 25-man roster until he joins the team Tuesday in Boston.