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Gant delivers for San Diego at plate and in field

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Without Ron Gant, the San Diego Padres probably
would have lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Gant had two hits, scored three runs, drove in one and made two
sensational plays in left field as the Padres beat Los Angeles 5-2
Monday night to continue the Dodgers' post-All-Star break misery.

''That was the Ron Gant Show,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. ''I
mean, that was an unbelievable game by him. He did it all. He
pretty much saved us just with his defense.''

The 37-year-old Gant, signed as a minor league free agent in
January, saved three runs with his defense, maybe four. He threw
out Mark Grudzielanek on the fly trying to score on Brian Jordan's
single to end the fifth, preserving a 2-1 lead.

In the eighth, with runners on first and second and two out,
Gant made a diving, backhanded catch of a slicing liner by speedy
Dave Roberts just inside the line to preserve the 5-2 lead.

Gant said it was probably the best all-around game in his
15-year big league career, which includes two World Series
appearances with the Atlanta Braves.

''When you do things like that, it's hard to have a better game
than that,'' he said.

Bochy, Gant and Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said Roberts' ball
could have gone for an inside-the-park home run if Gant hadn't
caught it.

''I knew he hit it pretty good,'' Gant said. ''I thought I got a
pretty good jump and it kept going away from me. About halfway to
the ball I said, 'You know what, if I don't catch this ball, it's
going to be an inside-the-park home run, so I better catch it.'

''It just propelled me into a different level. It's one of those
plays that's either do or die.''

At first, Gant thought the ball might drop foul. ''I saw the
replay and it was like 5 feet fair. So thank God I caught it.''

Said Tracy: ''It was the play of the game. If that ball gets by
him, it's quite possibly an inside-the-park home run because there
was no help behind him.''

Dodgers left fielder Brian Jordan was impressed with Gant's
catch.

''I can't believe he dove for that,'' Jordan said. ''That was a
gutsy play. But that's how you win games.''

After he threw out Grudzielanek at the plate, Gant pumped his
fist.

''I wasn't really known for my defense, but I've been proving
everybody wrong. When I do something defensively it pumps me up,''
he said.

The Dodgers are 2-10 since the break, a slump that cost them
first place in the NL West. The last-place Padres have won four
straight against Los Angeles, including a two-game sweep at Dodger
Stadium last week.

Bubba Trammell hit a solo homer, his eighth, and an RBI double
to finish 3-for-4 for the Padres, who have 16 extra-base hits in
three games. San Diego has won six of seven.

Tracy tweaked his lineup to try to get more production but it
didn't do much good. The Dodgers' leadoff batter reached base each
of the first seven innings but only one scored. L.A. was just
2-for-17 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners.

''We had our chances and didn't take advantage of them very
well,'' Roberts said. ''Plus, they made some great plays out
there.''

Dave Hansen, starting at third base to get a left-handed bat in
the lineup against Padres righty Brian Lawrence, committed two
errors in a span of three batters that led to an unearned run in
the fourth inning. Two mental errors on the same play by the
Dodgers contributed to San Diego's two-run fifth.

Hansen is primarily a pinch-hitter and was making just his ninth
start in the field.

Despite allowing 12 singles in 7 1/3 innings, Lawrence (9-5)
beat the Dodgers in consecutive starts, his only victories in his
last seven starts. He allowed two runs.

Odalis Perez (10-7) allowed four runs, three earned, on eight
hits in five innings.

Trevor Hoffman pitched a perfect ninth for his 24th save in 25
chances.

Trammell homered off reliever Guillermo Mota with two outs in
the seventh.

The Dodgers closed to 5-2 in the eighth with a pinch-hit RBI
single by Marquis Grissom off reliever Steve Reed.

Game notes
The Dodgers started a 13-game trip, their longest of the
season. ... Grudzielanek, L.A.'s best hitter after the break, moved
into the No. 2 spot and went 2-for-5. He usually hits seventh or
eighth.