Series: Game 3 of 3

Houston won 2-1

Game 1: Monday, September 1
LA Dodgers1
Game 2: Tuesday, September 2
LA Dodgers4
Game 3: Wednesday, September 3
LA Dodgers2

Astros 8

(73-66, 31-37 away)

Dodgers 2

(72-66, 41-31 home)

    10:10 PM ET, September 3, 2003

    Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California 

    123456789 R H E
    HOU 400000004 8 9 0
    LA 020000000 2 6 1

    W: J. Robertson (13-7)

    L: K. Brown (13-8)

    Houston 8, Los Angeles 2

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Once the first inning was finished Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, the outcome was all but decided.

    That's the way it is for the punchless Los Angeles Dodgers.

    Jeriome Robertson set a franchise record for wins by a rookie left-hander, and the Houston Astros jumped on Kevin Brown for four first-inning runs in an 8-2 victory over the Dodgers.

    Only once this season have the Dodgers overcome a four-run deficit, and that was 4{ months ago.

    The Dodgers have a team batting average of just .242 and are averaging less than 3{ runs per game.

    "Unfortunately, that's just too many runs to spot a team, and it's kind of hard to come back when you put yourself in a hole like that," said Brown, whose ERA rose from 2.26 to 2.37.

    "To get four runs off him early is huge," Houston's Craig Biggio said. "We don't get that many runs off him historically. He's filthy."

    By winning the rubber game of a three-game series, the Astros moved into first place in the NL Central -- a half-game ahead of St. Louis and one game in front of the Chicago Cubs.

    "They're all big now," Astros manager Jimy Williams said. "Robertson gave us some good innings. The kid has really persevered, he's done some good things on the mound. He really believes in himself."

    The loss was just the second in seven games for the Dodgers, who fell 2{ games behind co-leaders Philadelphia and Florida in the NL wild-card race.

    Robertson (13-7) gave up five hits and two runs in 5 2-3 innings while walking none and striking out six. He was relieved by Brad Lidge with two outs and nobody on in the sixth after retiring the last seven batters he faced.

    "He threw everything for strikes -- changeup, slider, everything," Astros catcher Raul Chavez said.

    The 26-year-old Robertson had been tied with Jim Deshaies for the club record for most wins by a rookie left-hander. Deshaies was 12-5 in 1986.

    That was news to Robertson.

    "It's great, it's cool," he said. "It's the team I'm on. You can't win games without run support. And they've given me good defense all year."

    Robertson's ERA is 5.10 -- indicative of his run support.

    Richard Hidalgo hit a two-run single and Geoff Blum followed with a two-run double to give Houston its quick 4-0 lead.

    The Astros got four hits and a walk after Brown (13-8) retired the first two batters.

    "I just tried not to do too much, put the bat on the ball, hit it up the middle," said Hidalgo, who did exactly that.

    Brown said the Astros hit good pitches.

    "Sometimes you make good pitches and they still get hits off them," he said. "It's not like they were killing me, but they got base hits. I couldn't get them to hit it to anybody."

    The Dodgers got two runs in the second on an RBI single by Jolbert Cabrera and Cesar Izturis' run-scoring grounder.

    But that would be the extent of their offense. They had only one hit in the last five innings.

    Brown and reliever Paul Shuey combined to retire 17 straight before the Astros scored four runs off Shuey in the ninth on a bases-loaded walk to pinch-hitter Orlando Merced, a fielder's choice grounder by Biggio and a two-run single by Adam Everett.

    The Astros put two runners on with nobody out in the second and third, but Brown pitched out of trouble both times with the help of inning-ending double plays.

    Nine of the first 14 Houston batters reached safely on six hits, a walk, a hit batsman and an error. But Brown retired the next 14 before being lifted for a pinch hitter.

    Brown allowed six hits and four runs in seven innings while walking one and striking out five.

    Game notes

    Brown's ERA ranks third in the majors behind Jason Schmidt of the San Francisco Giants (2.21) and Mark Prior of the Chicago Cubs (2.36). ... Brown allowed one earned run or fewer in 16 of his previous 27 starts. ... An MRI on Dodgers RHP Hideo Nomo revealed inflammation in his rotator cuff. His next start has been pushed back from this weekend to Tuesday night in Arizona. ... Biggio was hit by a pitch for the 22nd time this season and the 236th time in his career in the second. He ranks third on baseball's career list. ... Dodgers C Paul Lo Duca returned to the lineup after missing one game due to a sprained jaw and went 2-for-3 with a walk. Lo Duca, whose mask was knocked off Monday by a foul tip, wore a hockey-style mask for the first time in a regular-season game.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press