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Beltre goes deep twice

4/11/2004

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Eric Gagne is going to have a lot more save
opportunities this season if Milton Bradley and the Los Angeles
Dodgers continue this offensive output.

Bradley hit his first homer for the Dodgers and Gagne got his
first save of the season, leading Los Angeles over the Colorado
Rockies 7-4 Saturday night for its fourth straight win.

"We've been playing such great baseball," Gagne said. "From
No. 1 to No. 8 in the lineup, we're just really solid. It's fun to
watch. We thought we had everything here, and then Bradley comes in
and it makes everyone a lot better. Milton's been swinging the bat
really good and we're doing the little things to win."

Adrian Beltre homered and drove in three runs and Hideo Nomo
bounced back nicely from a rough outing on opening day for the
Dodgers.

Nomo (1-1) allowed two runs and four hits in six innings and
struck out seven, after giving up seven runs and two homers over
five innings last Monday against San Diego in an 8-2 loss.

"I was pleased with the performance we got from Hideo,"
manager Jim Tracy said. "I saw better life with his fastball. His
split was much more consistent and he had much more command of it
tonight than he did in his first start."

Jeromy Burnitz, who split last season with the Dodgers and New
York Mets, hit his first home run for Colorado. But the Rockies
lost their fourth straight following an opening day win at Arizona.

Beltre, who had a career-high 23 homers last season, hit his
third in five games in the sixth for a 7-2 cushion after Burnitz
went deep in the top of the inning.

"He's got all the ability in the world," Dodgers hitting coach
Tim Wallach said. "I really saw him focus this spring on better
pitch selection and not being in a hurry to put the ball in play.
His swing is really good right now, and when it is, it's as good as
anybody's."

The Rockies nicked Jose Lima for a pair of runs that sliced the
margin to 7-4 in the seventh, then Gagne got out of his own jam in
the ninth by inducing Burnitz to ground out with runners on second
and third for his first save of the season. It extended his major
league-record save streak to 64 in a row since Aug. 28, 2002.

"I'm not looking for an encore," said Gagne, last year's NL Cy
Young winner. "I'm not looking for numbers. I'm just looking to
make the playoffs and not sit at home watching the Marlins win it.
But it's good to get that first save out of the way. It was a great
year last year, and I'm just going to listen to the fans and feed
off them again."

Rockies center fielder Preston Wilson, who hit a career-high 36
homers last season and led the NL with 141 RBI, left the game with
a sore left knee after striking out in the third inning.

"He has a little swelling," manager Clint Hurdle said after
the Rockies lost to the Dodgers for the ninth straight time. "He
had the same swelling in the spring, and it just flared up. He was
going to have tomorrow off, anyway, so there was no sense in having
him hobble through it."

Los Angeles scored in each of the first three innings and built
a 6-1 lead against Denny Stark (0-1). Bradley, who joined the
Dodgers last Sunday in a trade with Cleveland, drove a 3-1 pitch
halfway up the right-field pavilion in the first inning with the
bases empty.

"I'm just trying to get comfortable and find my swing,"
Bradley said. "It was a good feeling, just to get the team off on
the right track."

Nomo forced in the tying run with a two-out walk with the bases
loaded to Aaron Miles in the second, but Los Angeles regained the
lead in the bottom half when Paul Lo Duca doubled and scored on
Beltre's single.

Dodgers leadoff hitter Dave Roberts, who stole four bases in
Friday night's 5-1 win, triggered a four-run third with a bunt
single and a stolen base before Bradley singled him home. Shawn
Green and Juan Encarnacion also had RBI singles and Beltre capped
the rally with a sacrifice fly.

Game notes
The Dodgers have had longer winning streaks against nine
other teams, including a franchise-record 16-game streak against
San Diego (1973-74). ... Rockies C Charles Johnson, who has homered
in each of his first three games, did not start. He is 3-for-23
against Nomo with no RBI and 15 strikeouts. ... Saturday was the
42nd anniversary of the first game at Dodger Stadium, which the
home team lost 6-3 to Cincinnati. ... Nomo is 9-2 in 16 career
starts against the Rockies, including the only no-hitter ever
pitched at Coors Field. ... C David Ross, the only player on the
Dodgers roster who had yet to get into a game this season, will
start Sunday while Lo Duca moves over to left field. It will be the
first time the Dodgers will start a different lineup from the one
they used on opening day. ... Lo Duca's passed ball in the eighth
inning was his fourth -- just two fewer than all of last season.