Sat, Jul 10, 2004 - Page 18 News List

Dodgers pay high price for a victory

AMERICAN BASEBALL Adrian Beltre strained his right quadriceps muscle and Shawn Green had to leave the game after he was hit by an inside pitch


Jeff DaVanon, left, of the Angeles, collides with White Sox catcher Jamie Burke as he scores on a hit by Bengie Molina during the second inning in Chicago, Thursday.


The Dodgers made a jump in the standings but dropped a couple of important players in the process.

Three games remain before the All-Star break, and if the Dodgers are to maintain the one-game lead they took in the National League West yesterday, they might have to do it without middle-of-the-order hitters Adrian Beltre and Shawn Green, both of whom left early in the Dodgers' 7-2 victory over the Houston Astros in front of 33,324 at Dodger Stadium.

Rookie starter Edwin Jackson pitched five solid innings as the Dodgers won their sixth consecutive game and moved one game ahead of San Diego for the division lead, but the victory came with a price.

Beltre, already playing with bone spurs in his left ankle, strained his right quadriceps muscle the night before but tried to play Thursday. He lasted only two innings, and manager Jim Tracy said Beltre likely would sit until after the break.

"We'll give it six days to completely quiet it down," Tracy said.

In the fifth, Shawn Green had to leave after he was hit by a pitch on his left leg. Tracy said Green had a bruise just above his kneecap, and his status for today, and beyond, is uncertain.

With outfielder Juan Encarnacion already out of the lineup because of a sore shoulder and outfielder Milton Bradley unlikely to start today against a left-handed pitcher because of his sore right shoulder, it wouldn't be surprising if the Dodgers put Encarnacion on the disabled list and recalled a hitter from Triple-A.

Chin-Feng Chen, hitting .309 with 17 home runs and 56 RBI in Las Vegas, would be the likely choice. It also could be outfielder Cody Ross or infielders Antonio Perez or Joe Thurston.

Despite the run of injuries that also includes pitchers Hideo Nomo and Odalis Perez, the Dodgers have picked up 4 games in the division in the past six days.

"It's just confidence," said Paul Lo Duca, who hit a solo home run in the fifth inning to give the Dodgers a 4-2 lead, hours after he learned he had been selected to the All-Star Game. "When you go through a stretch like we've gone through, it's tough, but we've stayed afloat."

Jackson (2-0) left his previous start in the second inning because of discomfort in his elbow, which Tracy alluded to when explaining why he removed Jackson from Thursday's game after five innings and 64 pitches.

The victory was Jackson's fourth in five career decisions, and while he admitted he might have been a little tentative at the start because of the elbow, the velocity on his fastball rose as the game went on.

Jackson allowed five hits, walked none and struck out two, and the only hit that hurt him was Craig Biggio's two-run home run in the third. Jackson left with a 5-2 lead.

Jackson even provided his own go-ahead run with an RBI single in the fourth inning, his first career hit.

"At first I didn't feel 100 percent," Jackson said, "but as the game progressed I was starting to let it go a little more. ... I just tried to let them put the ball in play and let the defense make the plays."

The Dodgers came through with another good offensive effort as they battered Houston starter Brandon Duckworth (1-2) for three runs in 3 innings. They did it without Beltre, who had only one at-bat and popped up to second base in the second. Robin Ventura took over at third base.

Before the game, Beltre's name was written on the lineup card, but on the other side of the clubhouse, he stood in front of his locker and said the leg didn't feel much better than the previous night.

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