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Dodgers stick it to Astros
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07/09/2004 2:26 AM ET 
Dodgers stick it to Astros
Club runs short on players, but not on hits

Paul Lo Duca is tied for fourth in homers (9) among National League catchers. (Jill Weisleder/Dodgers)
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers are running out of players, but not ways to win games.

Hideo Nomo and Odalis Perez are disabled. Juan Encarnacion has a bad shoulder. Edwin Jackson didn't look right physically Thursday night, but he lasted longer than Adrian Beltre or Shawn Green, both of whom left the game injured.

And with all that, they just keep winning. The latest streak hit six with a 7-2 win over the Houston Astros Thursday night that gave the Dodgers sole possession of first place.

"Everybody wrote us off two weeks ago when we were 3 ½ back, but we stayed afloat," said Paul Lo Duca, who homered after being added to the All-Star team. "We're just confident now. You can tell in the dugout and the clubhouse."

Jackson, starting for Perez despite a strained muscle near his elbow, lacked velocity but not determination. The 20-year-old rookie pitched five innings and drove in the go-ahead run for his second win of the season after spotting the Astros a 2-0 lead on a Craig Biggio home run.

"I know I didn't have the normal velocity, but there was no pain and no strange feeling," said Jackson. "At first I was a little reluctant to let it go, but as the game progressed, I started to get more comfortable and let it go a little more."

He allowed five hits, no walks, struck out two and made 64 pitches. The Dodger bullpen finished up with four scoreless innings and Tom Martin picked up the save, his first in almost seven years.

Six Dodgers drove in runs, among them Lo Duca, who hit his seventh homer, then was hit by a Tim Redding pitch on his upper arm his last at-bat. He was not hurt.

But two Dodgers were driven from the game with injuries. Beltre aggravated a right quad strain suffered the night before and will miss the next three games. Green was knocked from the game by a pitch that drilled his left quad near the knee and his return is questionable for Friday night.

Beltre wasn't healthy enough to make it into the third inning. The high quad strain he suffered while swinging Wednesday night was apparent when he popped out in his first at-bat against Brandon Duckworth and he was removed from the game.

   Adrian Beltre  /   3B
Born: 04/07/79
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 220 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

"We'll probably ... take these next three days and then the next three days during the All-Star break and give it the six days to completely quiet down," manager Jim Tracy said of Beltre's injuries. "With what he's dealing with right now with the ankle situation and add the quad to it, it wouldn't be good for him, it wouldn't be good for the club."

Only moments after Beltre left, Houston starting pitcher Brandon Duckworth singled and Biggio turned around an 89-mph fastball from Jackson for a two-run home run.

Jackson, who left his Anaheim start five days earlier in the second inning with a strained muscle near his elbow, was about six miles an hour slower than his normal 95 mph until the fourth inning, when he reached 90 mph for the first time and topped at 92 mph.

The Dodgers answered Biggio's home run in the bottom of the third with a two-out RBI single from Cesar Izturis, who cashed in Alex Cora's leadoff single.

They tied it in the fourth on a rally that started with a ball that should have been caught, a bloop single to shallow center by Robin Ventura (who replaced Beltre). Singles by Bradley and Jayson Werth made it 2-2. With two outs, Jackson put his team ahead by lining a 2-2 pitch to center for his first Major League hit to drive home Bradley and end Duckworth's night.

The Dodgers added a pair of runs in the fifth on Lo Duca's homer and an RBI single by Cora. However, that was the inning that Green was struck on the inside of his left quad by a Kirk Bullinger pitch. Green stayed in the game but after reaching second base on Cora's single, he was lifted for pinch-runner Jose Lima.

"Shawn has a contusion, it's a quad contusion, but it's just near his left kneecap, but it is still in the quad area," said Tracy. "We were lucky there, that that ball did not hit him flush on the kneecap. We don't know just yet as far as his availability for tomorrow, we're just going to wait and see how things go tonight and then we'll check on him again tomorrow afternoon."

Martin entered the game to face Lance Berkman with one out in the eighth after Darren Dreifort had walked the bases loaded. He got Berkman to ground into a double-play, qualifying for the save because he entered the game with the potential tying run on deck.

The Dodgers could field a lineup Friday night against Andy Pettitte without Beltre, Green, Encarnacion or Milton Bradley.

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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