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Sun shines in Dodgers' favor

©Associated Press

August 25, 2002


LOS ANGELES -- Gary Sheffield never lost a fly ball in the sun at Dodger Stadium while playing leftfield for Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES -- Gary Sheffield never lost a fly ball in the sun at Dodger Stadium while playing leftfield for Los Angeles.

Now in rightfield for the Atlanta Braves, Sheffield learned an important lesson Saturday about playing that position during the day at Chavez Ravine: bring sunglasses.

The six-time All-Star lost track of Cesar Izturis' fly ball and it fell for a double, keying a seventh-inning rally that helped the Dodgers beat the Braves 4-3 Saturday and pad their lead in the wild-card race to 4 1/2 games over San Francisco.

"It can be tough," said Shawn Green, the Dodgers rightfielder. "I've been fortunate that I haven't gotten too many balls right in the heart of the sun. There's not much you can do when it goes in there. You just hope you can find it at the last second."

The Braves led 3-2 when Izturis led off with his towering fly. Sheffield, serenaded with boos by the sellout crowd of 54,212 in his second game at Dodger Stadium since being traded to Atlanta in the offseason, couldn't locate the ball in the cloudless sky until it fell 10 feet from him.

"I realized I was in trouble when it should have been coming down, but I never saw it," Sheffield said after the East-leading Braves lost their third straight for the first time since mid July. "It was one of those things where you just try to get as close as possible and try to react to it when it comes out."

Jolbert Cabrera, called up before the game from Triple-A Las Vegas after Brian Jordan was placed on the disabled list with a bad back, bunted Izturis to third.

After a walk to Mark Grudzielanek, Marquis Grissom singled off Tom Glavine, tying it at 3. Paul Lo Duca hit a sacrifice fly for the go-ahead run.

Paul Shuey retired two batters for the victory.

Eric Gagne got three outs for his 44th save in 47 attempts, tying Atlanta's John Smoltz for the major-league lead. Gagne got Vinny Castilla to ground into a double play with runners on first and second to end it.

Gagne tied the Dodgers franchise record for saves, set in 1996 by Todd Worrell.

METS 5, ROCKIES 2: Timo Perez hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth as visiting New York snapped a 12-game losing streak.

With the Rockies leading 2-1, closer Jose Jimenez retired the first two in the ninth before Joe McEwing hit a single past third. Perez then hit a 1-and-1 pitch into the Colorado bullpen in right for his seventh homer.

The Mets, who had been 0-60 when trailing after eight, avoided matching the third-longest losing streak in team history. They also lost 13 straight in 1980. The franchise record is 17 in a row in the expansion 1962 season.

CUBS 4, D'BACKS 0: Matt Clement pitched a three-hitter and Mark Bellhorn hit his 21st home run as visiting Chicago handed West-leading Arizona its second loss in 14 games.

Clement pitched his second career shutout, both this season. He struck out five and walked five and is fourth in the league in strikeouts.

Clement held the Diamondbacks hitless until rookie Alex Cintron slapped a hard grounder between third and shortstop with one out in the fifth.

REDS 5, ASTROS 3 (11): Adam Dunn, in a 3-for-41 slump, hit a two-run homer off Tom Gordon in the 11th as visiting Cincinnati ended a five-game losing streak.

Houston tied the score at 3 on run-scoring singles by Daryle Ward in the fourth and Lance Berkman in the seventh.

PHILLIES 4, CARDINALS 0: Vicente Padilla pitched eight scoreless innings and Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell homered to lead visiting Philadelphia.

First-place St. Louis remained four games ahead of Houston in the Central.

EXPOS 7, GIANTS 2: Bartolo Colon allowed two runs in six innings and visiting Montreal beat San Francisco for the second straight time.

Colon, who gave up five hits, stretched his streak of shutout innings to 18 before allowing two runs in the sixth. He is 14-3 since May 4, including his time in the American League before Cleveland traded him.

PIRATES 17, BREWERS 10: Craig Wilson drove in four and Kip Wells became Pittsburgh's first 12-game winner in three years as the visiting Pirates had their most runs since 1999. Pittsburgh, which went in with a major league-worst .241 average, had season highs with nine doubles and 16 hits.

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