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Burnitz starts ninth-inning rally

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Colorado Rockies found a way to protect a
lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers. But there was still music
playing in the losers' clubhouse afterward.

Jeromy Burnitz's RBI single with one out in the ninth inning
sparked a three-run rally, and the Rockies beat Los Angeles 4-1
Wednesday night to slow the Dodgers' drive to their first playoff
berth in eight years.

However, the Dodgers' magic number for winning the NL West
dropped to two when San Francisco lost 4-3 in 10 innings at San
Diego, prompting a more positive attitude than usual in a losing
dressing room.

The Dodgers lead the Giants by three games with four remaining.

"It was a big loss for them," the Dodgers' Shawn Green said.
"Obviously, it would have been great to win tonight. But it's one
game off the schedule, which is nice.

"We'd obviously like to end this thing before they get into
town, but we've got to win tomorrow and they have to lose.
Otherwise, we've got to take care of them this weekend."

The Dodgers and Giants begin a three-game season-ending series
Friday night at Dodger Stadium.

Los Angeles wasted another in a long line of outstanding outings
by Odalis Perez, who allowed four hits and one run in eight innings
while walking two and striking out six. Perez has a
franchise-record 18 no-decisions and has allowed one run in seven
of his last 14.

"What can I do? Just go out there and pitch the best game I
can," said Perez, who has a 7-6 record and a 3.25 ERA in 31
starts. The Dodgers are 11-7 in Perez's no-decisions.

Before the game, Dodgers outfielder Milton Bradley was suspended
for the final five games of the regular season by Major League
Baseball because of his tantrum in the eighth inning Tuesday night.
A contrite Bradley said he will seek help to deal with his anger
problem and wouldn't appeal the suspension.

"We need Milton Bradley in the lineup because he's one of the
best guys hitting from the right side and the left side," Perez
said. "In a situation like this -- late September -- that's not the
best idea. He shouldn't do that to this team.

"We've been going through slumps, but we recovered and we're
leading the division by three games. So it was not a smart thing
for him to do."

Burnitz's single off Mike Venafro drove in Todd Helton, who drew
a one-out walk from Yhency Brazoban (4-2) and went to second on
Vinny Castilla's single.

The runners moved up on right fielder Green's throw to the
plate. Pinch-hitter Choo Freeman followed with a grounder up the
middle that deflected off Venafro's glove into shallow left-center
for a two-run double.

"They're playing for a lot more than we are, but a win's a win
and we'll take it any way we can get it," Helton said.

Brian Fuentes (2-3) pitched a perfect eighth to earn the victory
-- and there was no late rally for the Dodgers this time. Chin-hui
Tsao worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his first major league save.

The Rockies retired their final 11 batters and snapped a
five-game losing streak.

The 23-year-old Tsao saved a game for Taiwan in the Olympics
last month.

"The first save of my life," he said with a smile. "This one
was more important."

The loss was just the second in seven games for the Dodgers, who
rallied late for wins over the Rockies in Colorado earlier this
month and two more earlier this week.

The Rockies have blown 33 saves this season to tie the major
league record set by Texas two years ago. They have 36 saves
overall -- 35 by Shawn Chacon and the one by Tsao.

The Dodgers scored their run in the third off rookie Jeff
Francis when Perez singled, went to second on an infield out and
scored on Steve Finley's two-out infield single and a throwing
error by second baseman Aaron Miles.

The Rockies tied it in the sixth off Perez on a single by Miles,
an infield out and Helton's two-out, RBI double off the left-field
fence. Helton has 16 hits in 35 lifetime at-bats against Perez.

Francis, a 23-year-old left-hander making his seventh big league
start, allowed three hits and one unearned run in six innings. He
walked three and struck out three.

Game notes
Dodgers closer Eric Gagne, who has 45 saves in 47 chances,
was unavailable Wednesday night, but manager Jim Tracy hopes he can
pitch Thursday. Tracy said Gagne felt stiffness in his right
shoulder when he played catch Tuesday and had an MRI, which
revealed no structural damage. Gagne had a cortisone injection. ...
Dodgers 3B Adrian Beltre singled in the sixth for his 200th hit of
the season -- the first Dodgers player to reach 200 since Mike
Piazza had 201 in 1997. Only 11 Dodgers players have had 200 or
more hits since the team moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in
1958. ... Colorado's Todd Greene grounded into double plays in the
second, fifth and seventh.

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