LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Johnny Estrada's fourth hit of the game was a
slow roller that just squeezed through the infield.
It still was a big hit.
Estrada homered, drove in three runs and started Atlanta's
go-ahead rally in the ninth inning, and the Braves beat Eric Gagne
and the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-5 Thursday night.
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox is getting used to Estrada coming up
with key hits.
"If you look at Johnny's numbers -- his on-base percentage, his
batting average, his runs knocked in. I think he still leads the
big leagues with runners in scoring position," Cox said.
"He's having a fantastic year, and he's a great catcher.
Estrada is batting .330, including .390 (39-for-100) with
runners in scoring position, and has 63 RBI.
In a matchup of division leaders, the Dodgers had tied it 5-5 on
solo homer of the night for each.
Gagne gave up a one-out RBI single to pinch-hitter Adam LaRoche
in the ninth to lose for the second time in as many nights.
"This would have been a great playoff game," said the Braves'
John Smoltz, who pitched a perfect ninth for his 32nd save in 34
chances and franchise-record 142nd of his career.
"The crowd was into it and they know what's at stake for their
city, because it's been a while. We beat a great one tonight --
Gagne in the ninth."
Gagne (4-3) gave up Estrada's leadoff single, with the ball
rolling just under the glove of diving second baseman Alex Cora.
sacrifice bunt. LaRoche pinch-hit for Chris Reitsma and Green
advanced on a passed ball by Brent Mayne before LaRoche hit a
broken-bat single through the right side of the drawn-in infield.
Gagne picked up the barrel of the broken bat and angrily hurled
it off the field.
"It's so frustrating. We're playing so well and hitting the
ball so well," said Gagne, honored in a pregame ceremony for his
major league-record streak of 84 consecutive saves that ended
earlier this season.
"We should have won tonight, should have won last night," he
said. "The way we came back, it's just frustrating to give up a
run like that. It's not fun. I'll just have to come back and pitch
better the next time."
A night earlier, the Dodgers' closer had blown just his second
save in his last 100 chances, giving up four runs in the ninth and
taking the loss in a 6-4 defeat by Florida.
Asked about Gagne, Los Angeles manager Jim Tracy said, "There's
nothing wrong with Eric Gagne. He's human."
Reitsma (6-3) got the win despite giving up the two homers in
Shortstop Rafael Furcal made a spectacular diving stab of
Izturis' grounder up the middle and got a forceout to end that
"That play turned the game around," Cox said. "They get that
run and we're probably in deep trouble."
Beltre drove Reitsma's first pitch of the game over the wall in
right for his 36th homer. Green followed by driving a 3-2 pitch
into the seats in right-center for his 20th homer.
Los Angeles had narrowed the gap to 5-3 on Beltre's shot off
Russ Ortiz in the sixth. Green led off the second with a homer.
After the Braves scored four times in the opening inning against
the struggling Kazuhisa Ishii, the Dodgers got their first run on
David Ross' sacrifice fly in the fourth.
Although he didn't get the win, Ortiz extended his streak of
starts without a loss to 11 games, dating to June 20. He's 7-0 over
The Braves' right-hander gave up three runs and six hits.
Estrada hit a two-run double after Julio Franco put Atlanta on
the board with a sacrifice fly, and Andruw Jones drove in another
run with a broken-bat single.
Estrada made it 5-1 in the fourth when he homered off Ishii, his
eighth home run.
Ishii, who had been demoted to the bullpen, was making his
second start after rejoining the rotation to replace the injured
Ishii gave up five runs on four hits, walked three and struck
out three in four innings.Game notes
Smoltz broke Gene Garber's club record for saves. ... The
last time two Dodgers homered twice in a game was on June 30, 1996,
won 20 of their last 26 games and are 36-12 in their last 48 to
vault from six games below .500 to 18 games over.
- Home Plate Umpire - Dale Scott
- First Base Umpire - Bill Miller
- Second Base Umpire - Paul Emmel
- Third Base Umpire - Brian Gorman