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Dodgers 7, Cardinals 3
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kevin Brown is back just in time to keep the Los Angeles Dodgers in the middle of the NL playoff chase.
Making his second start since returning from the disabled list, Brown allowed three runs in five innings Sunday night as the Dodgers rallied for a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
The victory gave Los Angeles two of the three games in the series against the Cardinals.
Although Brown couldn't duplicate the dominance of his last outing, when he pitched five shutout innings, Dodgers manager Jim Tracy was impressed with the grit his right-hander displayed.
"Kevin Brown gave it all he had for the 94 pitches he had," Tracy said. "I know he wasn't satisfied with his performance. I think he struggled a little with his mechanics."
With the win, the Dodgers (75-62) move within one game of the wild card leading Chicago Cubs, who lost to Atlanta 3-1 on Sunday. Los Angeles also pulled within three games of the NL West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks, who lost 1-0 to San Diego in 13 innings.
The Cardinals (73-63) remain three games back in the wild card race.
Brown (9-4) was limited to 68 pitches in his first game after returning from the disabled list on Tuesday against Colorado.
This time, Brown struggled with his control early, walking four in the first three innings. He gave up six hits and threw 94 pitches in five innings.
Looking for an advantage against the right-handed Brown, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa started switch-hitter Bobby Bonilla at first base and rookie left-handed hitter Kerry Robinson in the outfield.
"It's a good time to get in as many left-handers as you can," La Russa said.
The strategy backfired as Robinson misjudged a fly ball by Paul Lo Duca and let it fall for an RBI single in the third inning, and Bonilla dropped a throw that allowed the go-ahead run to score in the same inning. Offensively, the two were a combined 1-for-4 with a walk against Brown.
Eric Karros, slumping for much of the season, showed further signs of breaking out with three hits, including a two-run single in the Dodgers' four-run third inning.
Mark Grudzielanek added his career-high 11th homer, a two-run shot in the fourth.
Chris Donnels, called up from Triple-A Las Vegas on Saturday, hit a pinch-hit homer in the eighth.
Karros finished the Dodgers' six-game homestand by batting .444 (8-for-18) with a pair of homers. He came into the series in a 1-for-16 slump.
Karros said he thinks he may be out of his slump.
"I think I've found something," Karros said. "We see if it takes us through September."
Cardinals starter Darryl Kile (13-10) went 5 1-3 innings allowing six runs and eight hits.
After Brown left, the Dodgers bullpen closed the game without allowing a run. Giovanni Carrara went three innings, allowing only one hit, and Matt Herges struck out two and got pinch-hitter Mark McGwire to fly out to end the game.
Notes: The Cardinals recalled rookie LHP Bud Smith from Potomac on Sunday. Smith (3-2) was scheduled to make his 11th start of the season on Monday in San Diego. ... McGwire is scheduled to start Monday against the Padres. ... Shawn Green of the Dodgers played in his 400th straight game, the longest current streak in the majors. ... Tracy said the Dodgers are considering going to a four-man rotation for the stretch run. RHP Eric Gagne would be dropped from a rotation of Brown, Terry Adams, Chan Ho Park and James Baldwin, all right-handers. ... After a day off on Monday, the Dodgers will embark on a 12-game road trip, their longest of the season.