The Los Angeles Dodgers' closer struck out the side in the ninth
for a 6-4 victory Thursday afternoon, extending his major-league
record for consecutive saves at the start of a season with his
Florida beat Los Angeles the previous two nights with walk-off
homers in extra innings, but the Marlins went down 1-2-3 on 11
pitches against Gagne.
"It seems the more work he gets, the more effective he gets,"
Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said.
Over the past 20 innings, the right-hander has allowed no runs
and three hits while striking out 32.
"His numbers speak for themselves," Florida's Mike Lowell
said. "You know you'll have a tough at-bat, because he throws
hard, and he throws off-speed pitches for strikes."
The Marlins lost the lead in the NL wild-card race to the
Philadelphia Phillies, who moved one-half game ahead by beating
Milwaukee 4-3. The Dodgers closed to within four games and salvaged
a split of their four-game series in Miami.
"It's nice to come away with a split after the tough games we
played the past few days," outfielder Jeromy Burnitz said.
Burnitz and Adrian Beltre hit two-run homers, increasing the
Dodgers' season total to 83 -- lowest in the major leagues.
"If I hadn't given up a home run in a jet stream, it would have
been an easier game," Brown said.
But Beltre's home run was also aided by a 15-mph wind, barely
clearing the center-field wall to give the Dodgers a 4-3 lead off
Mark Redman (10-6). Burnitz homered in the seventh off Armando
Almanza to make it 6-3.
"On a windy day, with anything in the air you're playing
Russian roulette," Redman said.
Los Angeles' Shawn Green went 3-for-4 with a walk, stole two
bases and scored twice.
Brown allowed only five hits and won for only the second time in
his past nine games. His start was moved up one day after
right-hander Andy Ashby came down the flu Wednesday.
"We had somebody go down, and somebody had to move up," Brown
said. "I told them I was available."
Redman needed 119 pitches to get through five innings, allowing
seven hits and four runs. Florida starters have an ERA of 6.67 in
the past five games.
Beltre hit his 13th home run in the fifth after Green walked
with two out. Green led off the seventh with a single and scored
with two out on Burnitz's 24th homer.
The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the first, scoring only their
second run in 20 innings. Paul Lo Duca was hit by a pitch, Green
singled and Ron Croomer hit a two-out RBI single.
Cabrera hit his seventh home run after Lowell singled and Derrek
Burnitz reached on an infield hit in the fourth when umpire Jim
Wolf ruled Lee was late touching first base, although TV replays
showed Burnitz was out. He then scored on a double by Jolbert
Cabrera to cut Florida's lead to 3-2.
Florida made it 6-4 in the eighth off Paul Quantrill when Juan
Pierre reached on an infield single, advanced when Lowell walked,
took third on a flyout and scored on Juan Encarnacion's infield
single. Lee popped out to end the inning.
That was the extent of the Marlins' comeback bid, and the
Dodgers improved to 51-1 when leading after seven innings. Their
relief corps' ERA of 2.08 is baseball's best.
"Their bullpen is unbelievable," Florida catcher Mike Redmond
said. "Those guys are pretty impressive."<
^Notes:@ The Dodgers won the season series 5-2. ... The top
three batters in the Marlins lineup grounded out to second base
seven times against Brown. ... Redmond went 0-for-3 against Brown,
dropping his lifetime average against the right-hander to .077
(1-for-13). ... The Dodgers improved to 44-12 when they score more
than three runs. ... Ivan Rodriguez flied out pinch-hitting and is
2-for-17 against Los Angeles this season.