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Lima allows one run to record fourth-straight win

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Alex Cora made sure Jose Lima got a win out
of his latest impressive outing.

Lima pitched seven solid innings and was lifted for a
pinch-hitter in the bottom half, when Cora hit a tiebreaking home
run that helped the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates
2-1 on Wednesday night.

Cora's two-out homer down the right-field line in the seventh
against Josh Fogg was his career-high seventh this season and the
125th by the Dodgers, one more than they had all last season.

"I've been consistent with my swing the whole season," Cora
said. "Some fastballs I'm getting the bat head out on and they're
going out, but I'm not trying to hit home runs. It's just a case of
being patient and getting your pitch. It was a fastball low and
away, I just dropped the head of the bat and it went out. I was
just hoping it would stay fair."

The NL West leaders won for the 23rd time in 29 games and put
themselves a season-high 20 games over .500 for the first time
since the end of the 2002 season. They opened up a 5½-game lead
over San Diego, their largest since July 3, 1994.

But center fielder Steve Finley, in just his third game with the
team after last Friday's trade from Arizona, left after five
innings because of soreness in his right hamstring and isn't
expected to play in Thursday's matinee.

Lima (10-3) threw just 73 pitches, allowing a run and six hits
while striking out two. The right-hander kept the score tied in the
sixth by retiring Craig Wilson on a grounder to short with two men
in scoring position.

"Lima is the most positive thing around here," Eric Gagne said
after posting his 32nd save. "He's amazing. He brings positive
energy every day and it rubs off on everybody. Everybody's feeding
off him."

Lima did not walk a batter. The Pirates have drawn a major
league-low 245 walks, including just three over their last four
games.

"When we start hitting home runs, we'll walk more," manager
Lloyd McClendon said. "Walks come from the pitchers being
concerned about you, and right now we don't have a lot of guys who
they're overly concerned with -- as far as leaving the ballpark.
When you pitch more carefully to guys, you have a tendency to walk
them."

In addition to his pinpoint control, Lima also helped himself
defensively. He turned an attempted sacrifice bunt by Randall Simon
into a dazzling inning-ending double play in the fourth. Lima
barely got the ball to shortstop Jose Hernandez for the force on
Rob Mackowiak before Simon was retired on another bang-bang play at
first.

"I threw a strike to second base and it was a huge double
play," Lima said.

Darren Dreifort pitched a perfect eighth inning and Gagne did
likewise in the ninth to finish up the game in a tidy 2 hours, 4
minutes.

Fogg (6-8) allowed two runs and nine hits over seven innings,
remaining winless in his last six starts with four no-decisions.

The right-hander got three huge assists from second baseman
Bobby Hill, who prevented two runs from scoring with diving stops
on grounders in the first and third innings and made another
acrobatic play in the fourth on a grounder up the middle by Brent
Mayne to start an inning-ending double play.

"For me it was awesome because he's from the University of
Miami, so I was happy for him. He learned a lot over there," said
Cora, who also played his college ball for the Hurricanes.

The Dodgers came close to breaking the tie one inning before
Cora's homer. But left fielder Wilson and right fielder Mackowiak
caught back-to-back drives by Shawn Green and Hee Seop Choi with
their backs against the fence.

After retiring his first six batters on 17 pitches, Lima gave up
singles by Ty Wigginton and Hill to give the Pirates runners at the
corner with none out in the third. Jason Kendall's RBI single tied
the score 1-all, but Cora turned Jack Wilson's broken-bat grounder
to second into an inning-ending double play.

Choi doubled with one out in the second and scored on
Hernandez's RBI single.

Game notes
Hernandez started at shortstop in place of Cesar Izturis,
who has an infected big toe on his right foot. ... The Dodgers are
21-5 against Pittsburgh over the last four seasons and 5-0 this
season. ... Pirates 1B Daryle Ward, on the DL since June 26 with a
sprained right thumb, is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with
Triple-A Nashville on Thursday. ... Dodgers RHP Hideo Nomo threw 30
pitches off the regular mound while recovering from an inflamed
rotator cuff that put him on the disabled list July 1. He's
scheduled to throw 50 pitches next Wednesday at Cincinnati when the
team take extra early batting practice. ... Dodgers OF Jayson
Werth, playing with pain in his left ribcage since last Thursday
after crashing against the fence to rob Colorado's Jeromy Burnitz
of extra bases, underwent a CT scan that revealed a crack in one of
his ribs. Manager Jim Tracy described the injury as "very
manageable."