Nady homers for fourth straight game

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers are glad to be back home and finished with American League teams. Now they can
concentrate on catching the San Diego Padres in the NL West.

Jeff Kent was 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI, J.D. Drew and
Mike Edwards hit run-scoring doubles and the Dodgers beat San Diego 5-4 on Monday night, helping trim the Padres' division lead to three games over idle Arizona and 5½ over Los Angeles.

"These are games I like to play. In your division. None of this interleague [stuff]. Playing a good team like the Padres," Kent said. "It was a long trip. We didn't play as well as we could and we had some bad breaks."

Rookie right-hander D.J. Houlton (4-1) allowed four runs -- three earned -- and five hits with five strikeouts in seven innings, helping the Dodgers recover quickly from a 2-11 road trip that included three-game sweeps by the White Sox, Royals and Angels. Both wins came at San Diego in come-from-behind fashion, after the Padres took the first two games 1-0 and 2-1 behind Jake Peavy and Woody Williams.

"We consider this a big series, especially after what happened to us in San Diego when we let them come back against us there," Padres catcher Robert Fick said. "We've had our ups and downs, but we've just got to stay together and we're not going to point any fingers around here."

Houlton, 25, is the only Los Angeles starter with a winning record -- on a staff that includes Derek Lowe, Brad Penny and Jeff Weaver.

"I'm just happy to be pitching here," said Houlton, who improved to 3-0 at Dodger Stadium. "This was a great opportunity, and I just wanted to get after it and show them I could start up here. It's been working out pretty good and it's given me a lot of confidence."

Kelly Wunsch pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Yhency Brazoban got the last three outs for his 14th save in 17 attempts.

Xavier Nady homered for the fourth consecutive game and Damian Jackson hit his third in two days for San Diego. Tim Stauffer (1-4) squandered an early 4-0 lead and remained winless in eight starts since beating Cincinnati in his major-league debut on May 11.

Stauffer allowed five runs, nine hits and three walks in six innings after losing a 6-4 decision to Houlton last Wednesday at San Diego. Stauffer also got his first career RBI with a double in the second inning, but the Padres got only one more hit against Houlton.

"He really settled down," Fick said. "For somebody who was almost coming out of the game -- and he was real close to coming out -- he figured it out. Being a young pitcher and being able to do something like that out there is really impressive."

The Dodgers pulled ahead 5-4 with two runs in the fifth inning. Drew, who missed the previous five games with a sore left knee, doubled home the tying run and Kent put Los Angeles ahead to stay with an RBI single after Drew advanced on Fick's passed ball.

Edwards started the Dodgers' comeback with an RBI double in the second, and Kent drove in two more in the third with his 15th homer. Kent has 111 RBI against San Diego, his highest total against any club, and his 30 home runs against the Padres match
Colorado for his best against any team.

The game got off to a controversial start when Jackson -- batting leadoff in place of the injured Dave Roberts -- drove a 3-2 pitch toward the left field pole. The ball was touched by a fan sitting in foul territory who reached in front of the pole.

Third base umpire Chuck Meriwether initially awarded Jackson second base on the interference, drawing both managers out to argue. The Dodgers' Jim Tracy wanted it ruled a foul ball, and San Diego's Bruce Bochy protested that it should be a home run. After the umpires huddled up, Jackson was awarded his fourth career leadoff homer.

It was also the fourth home run for Jackson, who hit two in Sunday's 5-4 victory against Seattle for his first career multihomer game.

There was no doubt about Nady's ninth homer, which came on an 0-2 pitch with two out in the second and started a three-run inning. Khalil Greene and Stauffer followed with doubles, giving the Padres a 3-0 lead for the fifth consecutive game. Stauffer scored when third baseman Antonio Perez misplayed Jackson's line drive for an error.

"We're getting leads and not doing a very good job of holding them -- or adding onto them," Bochy said.

Game notes
Nady's four-game home run streak is two shy of longest in Padres history, set by Graig Nettles in 1984. ... Kent, who grounded out against Chris Hammond in the seventh, is 1-for-20 lifetime against the left-hander. ... Jerry Reuss threw out a ceremonial first pitch on the 25th anniversary of his no-hitter for the Dodgers at San Francisco. ... Kent's 293 home runs as a second baseman are more than anyone who's ever played the position in the big leagues.