LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Adrian Beltre's productive bat has been
tempered in recent weeks because of an ankle problem that will
probably bother him the rest of the season.
But little can stop the Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman from
getting the most out of a good pitch in his zone.
Beltre snapped a tie with a leadoff homer in the eighth inning,
lifting the Dodgers to a 4-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
"He's been swinging the bat well the last couple of nights and
he's gotten some big hits," teammate Paul Lo Duca said. "He's got
bone chips in his ankle and he's been playing with it the whole
"I don't know if it's going to get any better or any worse. I
don't know if that's an excuse for when he was going bad, because
his ankle's the same as it was two weeks ago."
Beltre drove a 3-2 slider into the left-field bullpen for his
16th homer, two innings after pinch-hitter Jason Grabowski hit a
tying two-run shot, and helped the NL West-leading Dodgers complete
a three-game sweep.
Both homers came against Rodrigo Lopez (5-3), who was scheduled
to start the game before Lee Mazzilli demoted him to the bullpen
Guillermo Mota (3-1) got the win with a scoreless eighth. Eric
Gagne got three outs for his 16th save, and extended his major
league record saves streak to 79.
Miguel Tejada had three hits for the Orioles, who have lost five
straight and 12 of 15 -- a free-fall that has put them a
season-worst eight games under .500 under Mazzilli.
Baltimore rookie Erik Bedard allowed a run and five hits in five
innings and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth.
Lopez, who was upset about being taken out of the rotation and
met privately with Mazzilli before the game, inherited a 3-1 lead
from Bedard and promptly gave up a double by Beltre on his first
Two outs later, Grabowski batted for starting pitcher Kazuhisa
Ishii and drove a 2-1 delivery into the right-field pavilion for
his fifth homer and third by a Dodgers pinch-hitter this season.
"You have to be a little more aggressive as a pinch-hitter,"
Grabowski said. "It's my only at-bat, so I've got to try to get a
good pitch and hit it hard.
"It's not the easiest job in the world, but that's what I'm
here for. Any time a home run ties a game or puts you ahead, it's a
big one. And the fact that it helped us win makes it that much
Lopez, a 28-year-old right-hander, complained publicly on
Wednesday about the way he felt the Orioles were treating him. He
said the pregame chat with Mazzilli was unproductive, but insisted
that he wasn't preoccupied by this week's events once he took the
"I wasn't thinking about anything else except pitching and get
the batters out. I kept my focus, but things happened," said
Lopez, who wasn't completely warmed up before he entered the game.
"One of the hardest things about going from starter to reliever
for me is the warming up part, so it's going to take me a little
bit longer to get myself loose," Lopez said.
Ishii allowed three runs and nine hits over six innings. The
left-hander, who entered with an NL-leading 49 walks, surrendered
his only one to Tejada leading off the sixth. It proved costly when
Javy Lopez doubled and B.J. Surhoff followed with a two-run single
to snap a 1-1 tie.
Ishii gave up singles to four of his first five batters, but got
out of the first inning with only one run scoring -- thanks in part
to a double-play grounder by No. 2 hitter Luis Matos, whose hitless
drought reached 19 at-bats after he went 0-for-4.
Melvin Mora, who entered third in the AL with a .351 average,
was removed for a pinch-runner during the inning. He bunted his way
on after the double play, but sprained a ligament in his left foot
getting back to first on Ishii's pickoff attempt. X-rays were
Jose Leon, who replaced Mora on the bases after a single by
Tejada, scored from second Rafael Palmeiro's single. It was the
Orioles' first lead in 35 innings, dating to the second inning of
Sunday's 7-3 loss to San Francisco. It didn't last long.
Mora has appeared in all 62 games for Baltimore and has a
team-high 11 home runs and has driven in 41 runs. ... The Dodgers
have played eight consecutive games without an error. The franchise
record is 11, set in May 1979. ... The Orioles, who came in with a
league-worst .245 average with runners in scoring position, were
2-for-4 in that situation.