Perez helps his own cause with first career HR

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- For one night, Odalis Perez had more to say about his hitting than his pitching.

Perez hit his first career home run and scattered five hits over eight innings to outduel Rick Helling as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 1-0 Wednesday night.

Perez became the first pitcher to homer in a 1-0 victory since June 17, 1983, when former Dodger Bob Welch did it against Cincinnati at Los Angeles.

"It was a great feeling,'' said Perez, who hit one home run in Class-A and another at Double-A while in the Atlanta Braves' system. "When I got back to the dugout, the guys just stayed quiet and didn't say anything. So I said a bad word to them, and then they got up and congratulated me.''

Perez (12-8) was 16-for-109 (.147) lifetime at the plate with five RBI before homering into the first row of the right-field pavilion with two outs in the fifth. He became the fourth Dodgers pitcher to go deep this season, joining Kevin Brown, Andy Ashby and Omar Daal.

"The first ball that he flied out on, I could tell he had a
good swing on -- and he just missed it,'' Helling said. "With two
outs and nobody on, the last thing I thought about was the pitcher
hitting a home run -- but I don't think anybody's going to hit a
home run, because I'm concentrating on making a pitch.''

The last time four Dodgers pitchers homered in the same season
was 1930, when Sloppy Thurston, Ray Phelps, Jumbo Elliott and Watty
Clark all went deep.

"Some of the guys were mad at me because Omar had a home run,
Ashby had a home run and Kevin Brown had a home run,'' Perez said.
"I hit home runs in batting practice almost all the time. Now I've
got one, so I feel proud of myself.''

The Dodgers, who lead the NL with 13 shutouts, won for the 11th
time in 14 games to maintain their 2-game lead over San Francisco
in the NL wild-card race.

The Diamondbacks, who have won 14 of 18, still lead Los Angeles
by seven games in the NL West.

Perez beat the defending World Series champs for the first time
in five career decisions, striking out four, walking none and
retiring his last 12 batters.

"I used all my pitches and threw my fastball more,'' Perez
said. "That's a great team, and for me to go out there and have
the confidence I had was great. The guys who had been hurting me a
lot didn't tonight.''

Eric Gagne struck out three in the ninth, fanning pinch-hitter
Erubiel Durazo with runners at first and second to end it. Gagne's
45th save in 49 chances broke the Dodgers franchise record set by
Todd Worrell in 1996.

"I never really met him, but I knew a little bit about him because I've always liked closers,'' said Gagne, who was converted into a reliever in spring training. "Those were the only guys I looked up to -- people like Worrell, John Wetteland, Mariano Rivera and Robb Nen.''

Perez, who had a 10-4 record when he pitched in his first
All-Star Game in July, is 2-4 with a 3.52 ERA in nine starts since
then. He worked with runners on base in every inning except the
first, stranding a runner on second in three consecutive innings.

Helling (8-9) dropped to 0-6 lifetime against the Dodgers
despite allowing only one run and four hits in seven innings.
Helling, who sprained his right ankle in an 8-0 loss to Los Angeles
on July 2, is 1-1 with a 1.54 ERA in five starts since coming off
the disabled list.

"It's starting to look like it's just not my year, as far as
wins and losses,'' Helling said. "There's not much more I can do.
I feel like I'm pitching as well now, if not better, than I did the year I won 20. And I'll be lucky to win half that many this year.''

Helling allowed a single by Dave Roberts and a ground-rule
double by Marquis Grissom to open the first, and did not give up
another hit until Perez's homer. Home runs have accounted for 45 of
the 70 runs the right-hander has allowed this season.

Game notes
The Dodgers assembled in center field before batting practice to take their team photo -- just in case this was their final game of the season. They usually do it after the September
callups. ... Dodgers SS Alex Cora, who got a concussion in a
collision at second base with Arizona's Tony Womack on Monday
night, did some cardiovascular work on the bicycle and treadmill,
and also lifted weights. Cesar Izturis played shortstop. ...
Arizona's Jay Bell made his first start at shortstop since the end
of the 1998 season. He was the Diamondbacks' regular shortstop that
season before being shifted to second base for the final 15 games.