SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers have run out of
superlatives for describing Hideo Nomo, even after his brilliant
performance with their season on the brink of ruin.
Nomo recovered from a three-run homer to shut down San Diego and
Marquis Grissom hit a two-run single off Trevor Hoffman with two
outs in the ninth inning as the Dodgers won 5-3 Saturday night to
remain two games behind San Francisco in the NL wild-card race. Nomo was "unbelievable,'' catcher Paul Lo Duca said. "He gave
up the three-run homer; it was probably the only mistake he made
all day. After that, he was basically unhittable. He really was.'' The Dodgers won for just the sixth time in 16 games. San
Francisco beat Milwaukee 3-1. The Dodgers and Giants each have
seven games left. "You go three down with seven to go, you're basically toast,''
Lo Duca said. "It's a big win, keeps us alive. We need to run the
table, basically.'' Said Nomo: "If we would have lost today, it would have been
bad.'' Nomo (16-6) allowed just four hits and three runs, two earned,
in eight innings. He struck out seven and walked none in winning
his seventh straight decision over 13 starts and matching his
career high for victories. Nomo hasn't lost since July 16 to St.
Louis. "To turn into the ace of your staff and pitch the way this guy
has pitched, it's just phenomenal,'' manager Jim Tracy said.
"Tonight may be as good as he's been all year long.'' Nomo threw 93 pitches, giving Tracy some flexibility in possibly
brining him back on three days' rest to start against Colorado. "He was pretty impressive,'' Padres manager Bruce Bochy said.
"He's been their guy. He came through tonight.'' Eric Gagne pitched the ninth for his 50th save, becoming the
eighth player ever to reach that mark. The Padres had runners on
first and third and two outs when Lo Duca threw out pinch-runner
Cesar Crespo trying to steal second. After Tom Lampkin hit a three-run homer with one out in the
second that gave the Padres a 3-1 lead, Nomo retired 18 straight
batters until pinch-hitter Ron Gant singled with one out in the
eighth. The Dodgers scored twice off rookie Jake Peavy in the fifth to
tie the game, then won it against Hoffman (2-5) in the ninth. Hoffman allowed consecutive one-out singles, but Adrian Beltre
was thrown out at the plate by first baseman Ryan Klesko on Alex
Cora's grounder. Mike Kinkade, pinch-hitting for Nomo, was hit on
the knee to load the bases before Grissom, filling in for the
injured Dave Roberts, singled to left to make it 5-3. "There's kind of a heightened sense that their games mean a
lot,'' Hoffman said. "Their at-bats, they're battling. They were
up to the task tonight.'' Grissom finished with three RBI. Roberts homered leading off
the game, his third, then left with a strained muscle in his right
ribcage. The Dodgers rallied from a two-run deficit to tie it at 3 in the
fifth off Peavy, who allowed three straight singles opening the
inning. After Beltre and Mark Grudzielanek singled, Cora singled in
Beltre. Nomo sacrificed the runners to second and third, and
Grissom's groundout scored Grudzielanek. Lampkin, 38, homered over the right-field fence with one out in
the second, setting career highs with his 10th homer and 37th RBI.
Gene Kingsale reached on a Nomo's fielding error and Brian Buchanan
singled. After Roberts' homer, Peavy retired nine straight batters until
Paul Lo Duca singled leading off the fourth. Peavy allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings, struck
out eight and walked one.
Roberts said he hurt himself fouling off an 0-2 pitch. "It
doesn't look good,'' Roberts said. "I tried to finish that at-bat.
Some way, I hit a home run. I don't know how I did it.'' ... Tracy
said RHP Andy Ashby has a blister on his pitching hand and won't
pick up a ball for three days. Ashby (9-13) allowed five runs on
six straight hits without getting an out in the third inning in
Friday night's 8-4 loss to San Diego. If Ashby can't make his next
start, candidates to replace him include Kevin Beirne or Giovanni