Nomar's walk-off grand slam keeps L.A. on heels of leaders

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- If this were July, Nomar Garciaparra probably

wouldn't be playing because of a sore left quadriceps that's

bothered him for over a week.

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Fortunately for the Los Angeles Dodgers, he's helping them

battle for a playoff berth.

Garciaparra provided the heroics for the second time in a span

of seven games, hitting a grand slam with two outs in the bottom of

the ninth Sunday to give the Dodgers a much-needed 5-1 victory over

the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"I tried to get a good pitch, was able to get one. I'm just

glad and thankful I was able to do this," said Garciaparra, who

hit a 2-1 pitch from Luis Vizcaino over the left-center field fence

for his 19th homer.

By winning their regular-season home finale, the Dodgers

remained 1½ games behind the NL West-leading San Diego Padres and a

half-game back of Philadelphia in the wild-card race. The Padres

beat Pittsburgh 2-1 and the Phillies topped Florida 10-7 earlier


The Dodgers have six games left; the Padres and Phillies each

have seven remaining.

Garciaparra came out of the dugout a few minutes after his

latest homer to acknowledge the cheering fans.

Just last Monday night, Garciaparra hit a two-run homer in the

10th inning to give Los Angeles an 11-10 victory over San Diego

after the Dodgers matched a major league record by hitting four

consecutive homers in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game.

"He could barely run," Dodgers manager Grady Little said.

"With what he's giving us out there in his condition is just


Garciaparra smiled when asked before the game how he felt.

"Have you seen me run out there?" he replied. "You've just

got to go out there and do what you can."

Marlon Anderson started the winning rally by hitting a single

off Vizcaino (4-6), and Russell Martin sacrificed. Oscar Robles

grounded out, moving Anderson to third, and Rafael Furcal was

walked intentionally. Kenny Lofton drew another walk to load the

bases for Garciaparra.

"What really set that up were the at-bats before me,"

Garciaparra said. "Kenny's at-bat was unbelievable."

Arizona manager Bob Melvin agreed and gave credit to

Garciaparra, as well.

"Lofton had a great at-bat, and then Garciaparra -- you have to

tip your hat to Nomar, the year he's having, a big hit in that

situation on a slider against a very tough right-hander," Melvin


Takashi Saito (6-2), the third Dodgers pitcher, pitched a

perfect ninth with two strikeouts to earn the victory.

Hong-Chih Kuo was outstanding in his fourth big league start,

allowing four hits in a career-high seven innings with two walks

and eight strikeouts. But he left after throwing 100 pitches with

nothing to show for it.

"He didn't leave anything over the middle of the plate --

nothing," said Arizona's Conor Jackson, who had two of his team's

five hits. "Command, I guess, has been his problem in the past.

But not today."

Arizona's Livan Hernandez also went seven innings, allowing five

hits and one run. He walked five, struck out two and threw 118


Arizona scored an unearned run in the third for a 1-0 lead.

Stephen Drew walked, took second when third baseman Wilson Betemit

mishandled Chris Snyder's grounder for an error, and scored on

Carlos Quentin's two-out double.

Los Angeles tied it in the fifth, but blew a chance for more.

Kuo doubled with one out for his first major league hit, took third

on Furcal's single and scored on a single by Lofton. Garciaparra

walked to load the bases, but Jeff Kent fouled out and J.D. Drew

grounded out.Game notes
The final regular-season game this year at Dodger Stadium

was played before a crowd of 49,822, lifting the total for the year

to a franchise-record 3,758,545 -- the sixth-highest in NL history.

That surpassed the previous Dodgers high of 3,608,881 in 1982, but

that figure was the turnstile count while this year's total was

tickets sold. ... Diamondbacks 2B Orlando Hudson left the team

Sunday morning to attend to family issues, according to manager Bob

Melvin. ... After taking Monday off, the Dodgers play three games

at Colorado and three at San Francisco. ... Arizona 3B Chad Tracy

didn't start because of what Melvin called a mild case tendinitis

in his left knee, an ailment that has plagued him all season. ...

The Dodgers went 49-32 at home this season, matching their highest

win total at Dodger Stadium since 1991, when they went 54-27.