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Lo Duca's key hit pushes LA to win
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06/30/2004 12:59 AM ET 
Lo Duca's key hit pushes LA to win

Paul Lo Duca raps an RBI single in the eighth inning to give the Dodgers a lead. (Jill Weisleder/Dodgers)
LOS ANGELES -- The fans and media focused on the bad blood that surfaced during last week's four-game sweep by the Giants, but the Dodgers were more concerned with the bad results.

"They came out and stomped us and we weren't ready," said Paul Lo Duca. "We wanted to be ready to play tonight."

That theme resonated in the clubhouse and was reflective of the way the Dodgers played in a tense 2-1 win Tuesday night. They got clutch hits they lacked a week ago, with a tying homer from Jayson Werth in the fifth inning and a game-winning single by Lo Duca off former minor league batterymate Felix Rodriguez with two out in the bottom of the eighth.

"About time," said Lo Duca. "We got spanked last week, got our butts kicked. This is a start. We've still got two games left and we haven't accomplished anything yet."

   Eric Gagne  /   P
Born: 01/07/76
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 235 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

The Dodgers received another quality start for a no-decision by Jeff Weaver, two winning innings of relief from Guillermo Mota (4-3) and Eric Gagne's 82nd consecutive save to trim the Giants' lead in the National League West to 2 1/2 games.

"We know we have a great team," said Gagne, "but we didn't show up in San Fran. It's time to show up."

Werth showed up Tuesday not even expecting to play, but with Milton Bradley and Dave Roberts nursing injuries, he wound up starting in center field for the third time in his Major League career. He also wound up with half of the Dodgers' four hits, scored both runs and drove himself in.

"It's always fun to beat the Giants," said Werth, a quick learner having really spent only a month in a Dodgers uniform after missing two months with a pulled oblique muscle.

Werth, who homered for the first Dodgers run, started the winning rally by hustling out an infield single to third base and was bunted to second by pinch-hitter Alex Cora. With the pitcher's spot next, manager Jim Tracy sent up left-handed hitting Jason Grabowski and Giants manager Felipe Alou countered by relieving Jim Brower with left-hander Scott Eyre.

Tracy, short-handed with Bradley and Roberts ailing and playing the righty-lefty percentages all the way, went with David Ross and his .175 average. But Eyre ruined all the managing by walking Ross on four pitches, so Alou brought on Rodriguez to face Cesar Izturis.

Izturis' grounder forced Ross at second, leaving runners on the corners for Lo Duca, who lined a single that landed at the feet of Barry Bonds (who was walked all four plate appearances).

A week ago in San Francisco, the Dodgers were swept four games and knocked out of first place in a series marred by two bench-clearing incidents and a pair of ejections.

The opener of the Dodger Stadium rematch witnessed no hostilities, just a tight duel between Weaver and Giants rookie Noah Lowry, an emergency replacement for Jerome Williams, whose shoulder came up sore.

Weaver's outing was typically frustrating. He pitched his 11th quality start with nothing good to show for it personally, leaving with a no-decision after six innings, having allowed a first-inning run on Edgardo Alfonzo's broken-bat, two-out bloop single.

   Jeff Weaver  /   P
Born: 08/22/76
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 200 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

"I get my satisfaction in winning, period," said Weaver. "We want the momentum to switch now that we're in our park and we're feeling confident we can do it. It would be easy to fold and let them continue to put the hurt on you. We didn't."

Lowry was making only his third Major League start, but being left-handed he was a handful for the Dodgers. The Dodgers were kept off balance by his changeup and couldn't get a runner past second base until Werth launched a solo home run with one out in the fifth inning. Lowry allowed only two hits over seven innings with nine strikeouts.

The key inning for the Dodgers was the seventh, when Mota took over for Weaver. After getting Ray Durham on a grounder, Mota allowed a double to J.T. Snow. Former Dodger Marquis Grissom worked a 3-2 walk to bring up Bonds with first base occupied, which didn't matter to the Dodgers, who unintentionally walked him on four pitches that weren't close, his fourth walk of the game.

This time, Alfonzo's broken bat killed the rally, as his soft liner was caught by second baseman Jose Hernandez, who doubled Grissom off second.

Werth got the Dodgers even against Lowry with a solo homer to dead center on a 2-1 pitch. It was his fourth home run in only his 16th game.

The Dodgers were presented with their first opportunity to walk Bonds in the first inning and took it, with two out and a runner on second. But Alfonzo defeated the strategy with a broken-bat blooper over shortstop for an RBI single. Alfonzo, who drove in six in a game against the Dodgers a week ago, came into the game batting .409 in the previous 13 games.

Weaver tried to pitch to Bonds with two out and a man on first in the third inning, but walked him on a 3-2 pitch. He came up again in the fifth with two out and a runner on second and he was walked intentionally again to bring up Alfonzo, who grounded into a forceout.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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