Series: Game 2 of 3

LA Dodgers leads 2-0 (as of 8/4)

Game 1: Tuesday, August 3
LA Dodgers3
Game 2: Wednesday, August 4
LA Dodgers2
Game 3: Thursday, August 5
LA Dodgers8

Pirates 1

(49-56, 23-30 away)

Dodgers 2

(63-43, 34-19 home)

    10:10 PM ET, August 4, 2004

    Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California 

    123456789 R H E
    PIT 001000000 1 6 1
    LA 01000010 - 2 10 0

    W: J. Lima (10-3)

    L: J. Fogg (6-8)

    S: E. Gagne (32)

    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."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press