07/04/2004 12:26 AM ET
Beltre's bombs help Dodgers to win
Third baseman hits two homers to beat the Angels
By Elliott Teaford / Special to MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- The Dodgers went deep to defeat the Angels in Game 2 of the Freeway
Series on Saturday night at Angel Stadium.
|Eric Gagne celebrates with Paul Lo Duca after saving Saturday night's game. (Matt Sayles/AP)
That's deep, as in hitting the baseball deep over the outfield fence, but
also as in going deep into their bullpen to overcome an elbow injury to
rookie starter Edwin Jackson in the second inning.
Contributions in the Dodgers' 8-5 victory over the Angels before a sellout
crowd of 43,686 came from expected and unexpected sources, with third
baseman Adrian Beltre hitting his 20th and 21st home runs and reliever
Duaner Sanchez throwing a season-high 3 1/3 innings after Jackson was
"The offense, for the third time in a row, did nothing but take one great
at-bat after another," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "The best place to
start would be with Adrian Beltre and the job he continues to do."
Beltre hit a two-run homer off struggling Angels starter Bartolo Colon in
the first, then followed with a solo homer off Colon in the third.
Colon (5-8) gave up three homers and lasted only four innings.
Beltre is 5-for-12 with three homers and six RBIs lifetime against Colon.
What's more, Beltre put a stop to any letdown the Dodgers might have
suffered after Jackson's early exit. Bases-empty homers from Robin Ventura
in the second and Milton Bradley in the fifth also helped the Los Angeles cause.
"I almost forgot how to run around the bases," Ventura joked after his
first homer of the season.
Sanchez kept the Angels from taking back all of a 4-2 Dodger lead after
Jackson was injured. Although he gave up three runs on four hits with two
walks, Sanchez left with the Dodgers ahead by three runs at the beginning of the last of the
Darren Dreifort, Guillermo Mota and Eric Gagne kept the Angels scoreless through the last four innings. Mota (6-3) earned the victory with two of those scoreless innings. Gagne pitched a perfect ninth for his 21st save of the season and his 84th consecutive save dating back to August of 2002.
Sanchez served as the bridge that spanned the gap from Jackson to the
Dodgers' normal late-game bullpen rotation, which was no small feat as far
as Tracy was concerned. Before the game, Tracy had spoken at length about the
need to get the ball to the bullpen with the lead after six innings.
"You want to do everything you can to get the lead after six," he said.
In the early innings, it appeared that the Dodgers would have no trouble scoring
runs against Colon. Beltre's two-run homer in the first highlighted a
three-run opening frame. Jackson gave up a two-run homer to Vladimir Guerrero in
the bottom of the inning, and then departed with what the club termed a mildly
strained right elbow with two outs in the second.
It looked like certain trouble, but the Dodgers kept hitting Colon and the
Angels did enough against Sanchez after he gave up a two-run homer to
Angels first baseman Darin Erstad in the third and a run-scoring single by
left fielder Jose Guillen in the fifth.
Dreifort, Mota and Gagne allowed only a single
to catcher Bengie Molina in the sixth, preserving an 8-5 lead.
After the game, Tracy singled out his third baseman for praise.
"At this time of year, you hear a lot of talk about guys who should be on
the All-Star team," Tracy said. "Where would we be without the performance
we've gotten in the first half of the season from Adrian Beltre?"
Beltre helped the Dodgers move with 2 1/2 games of the San Francisco Giants
in the National League West. His average climbed to .327, tops on the club.
He also leads the Dodgers with 21 homers and 55 RBIs.
There was never much doubt that either of the belt-high pitches that he received from Colon would be ticketed for the other side of the fence. Come to think of
it, there wasn't much doubt about the homers by Ventura and Bradley either.
Asked about Colon's struggles, Ventura winced a bit.
"I only face him once this year, so it's kind of unfair," Ventura said of
facing Colon, who has now given up an AL-leading 26 homers. He is 2-7 in his last 13 starts.
The final difference between the two Southern California rivals on this night was
that the Dodgers coped well after their starter faltered while the Angels did
Elliott Teaford is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.