Dodgers win sixth straight thanks to Alvarez

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Wilson Alvarez scattered four hits over seven
scoreless innings, and Dave Roberts hit his first inside-the-park
home run as the Los Angeles Dodgers won their sixth straight with a
6-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night.

Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said before the game he would use
All-Star closer Eric Gagne for the fifth straight day -- something
he's never done -- if a save situation warranted. But Alvarez (2-1)
gave Gagne the night off with help from Paul Shuey, who pitched two
innings and allowed a homer by Damian Miller in the eighth.

Alvarez, making a spot start, retired 17 of his last 18 batters,
struck out six and walked none in his third start this season and
first since July 13 -- delaying Chicago manager Dusty Baker's 900th
regular-season victory for at least another day.

Roberts, whose hamstring problems have landed him on the DL
twice this season, lined a 3-2 pitch down the left-field line
leading off the first inning and circled the bases as the ball
struck the front of the box seats and caromed past Moises Alou.

Alvarez filled in for Kazuhisa Ishii, who's expected to return
from the disabled list next Thursday after a few more bullpen

The veteran left-hander gave up singles to his first two
batters, who were quickly erased -- Doug Glanville on a pickoff at
first, and Ramon Martinez on a double-play grounder by Sammy Sosa.
Alvarez also stranded a runner at third base in the second by
striking out Alex Gonzalez.

Matt Clement (9-10) allowed five runs, six hits and four walks
in five innings, including a two-run homer by Robin Ventura.

Roberts' second homer of the season triggered a four-run inning.

Shawn Green walked with one out, advanced to third on a single
by Jeromy Burnitz and scored on Adrian Beltre's sacrifice fly.
Ventura followed with his second homer in eight games since joining
the Dodgers in a July 31 trade with the New York Yankees.

Ventura, whose 16 career grand slams are the most among active
players, came up with the bases loaded in the third and grounded
out to first base to drive in the Dodgers' fifth run. Alex Cora
added an RBI single in the sixth against Antonio Alfonseca.

Game notes
Cubs 1B Eric Karros got a laugh out of his ex-manager about
45 minutes before gametime when he burst into Tracy's office,
pounded a bat on a coffee table and asked if he was in the Dodgers'
lineup. ... The Dodgers have never drawn fewer fans in a season
than the World Series champion Anaheim Angels, who play about 35
miles down the freeway -- but it's going to be close this time. Each
team has played 59 home dates, with the Dodgers holding a lead of
just 17,478. ... Monday is the 12th anniversary of Alvarez's
no-hitter over Baltimore, which came in only his second big league
game. That was the only year he and Sosa were teammates with the
White Sox. ... Dodgers 1B Fred McGriff is scheduled to be activated
from the DL next Thursday after a three-game minor league rehab
stint in Vero Beach, Fla.