LA can't dodge Renteria

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Shortstop sparks Cardinals to 9-2 victory over Dodgers.

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Everything went Edgar Renteria's way on Tuesday -- at the plate and on the bases.

Renteria went 4-for-4 with two RBIs and scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error by pitcher Hideo Nomo as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-2.

"I don't even remember the last time I had four hits," Renteria said after his ninth career four-hit game and first since July 31 of last season. "Sometimes you go 0-for-5 and hit five balls hard. Sometimes you don't hit the ball so good and you get four hits. That's baseball."

Luther Hackman (2-3) pitched 1 1-3 innings of one-hit relief, helping the NL Central-leading Cardinals win their fourth straight and improve to a season-high 12 games over .500.

Adrian Beltre had a solo homer and an RBI double for the Dodgers, who have lost six of seven and have slipped into second place in the NL West, a half-game behind Arizona.

All four of Los Angeles' runs in the two-game set with the Cardinals were driven in by Beltre, who hit a two-run homer in Monday night's 4-2 loss.

"We've got to find a way to score runs. There's no excuse for putting up only two runs," Dodgers leadoff hitter Dave Roberts said. "We haven't had a lull or a slump like this all year long, but every team goes through it.

"I don't think we're good enough to just go out there and wait for the three-run home run. We've got to play the game fundamentally right, with good pitching and defense and situational hitting. Everyone's got to look at themselves in the mirror."

Andy Benes, sidelined since April 16 because of an arthritic right knee, was activated from the 60-day disabled list by the Cardinals before the game and threw 84 pitches in four innings. The 34-year-old right-hander allowed two runs and three hits, struck out six and walked three.

"Physically, I felt fine," Benes said. "I just wanted to keep pitching until they told me that I'm done. I thought I threw the ball very well, had a nice slider and kept the ball around the strike zone. I only left a couple of pitches over the plate, and Beltre hit both of them."

The Dodgers didn't think Benes looked like someone who hadn't been on a major league mound in three months.

"He looked great," Alex Cora said. "He had pinpoint control early in the game and he didn't give us a lot of chances to score runs because he was throwing strikes."

Nomo (9-6) lost for the first time since May 12 after going 7-0 in his previous 11 starts. He allowed five runs -- two earned -- and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings.

Nomo walked none and struck out eight, including Jim Edmonds his first three times up. Edmonds, who entered with a team-high .317 average, struck out a fourth time against Jesse Orosco after Placido Polanco chased Nomo with a two-out RBI double in the seventh that gave St. Louis a 5-2 lead.

Renteria and Eli Marrero opened the seventh with singles, and both scored when Nomo fielded Mike Matheny's sacrifice bunt and threw it past Beltre at third base for his second error of the season.

"It's a play he makes nine times out of 10, but unfortunately, he didn't," Roberts said. "That was a pivotal play, no doubt about it. If we get an out there, it puts the onus back on them. But aside from that, Hideo did his job and kept us in the ballgame."

Renteria had an RBI single during a four-run eighth against Guillermo Mota. Matheny had an RBI double and Fernando Vina capped the inning with a two-run triple.

St. Louis tied it in the fifth at 2-all when Renteria led off with a single, took third on Marrero's single and scored on Matheny's grounder.

Tino Martinez, who entered 3-for-16 against Nomo, singled with one out in the second, stole a base and scored St. Louis' first run on Renteria's double.

Notes: Nomo has allowed no more than two earned runs in each of his last six starts, and has a 1.69 ERA during that span. ... Nomo also won seven straight decisions in 1995, when he was NL Rookie of the Year. ... Eduardo Perez, who homered in his previous three games, pinch hit for Benes in the fifth and fouled out. ... The Cardinals made room for Benes on the 25-man roster by optioning 30-year-old rookie 3B Mike Coolbaugh to Triple-A Memphis. Coolbaugh, called up from Memphis on June 30 when J.D. Drew went on the DL, started three games and was 1-for-12 after playing in 39 games last season with Milwaukee. ... RHP Garrett Stephenson, sidelined since May 30 because of a strained left hamstring, was transferred from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL. ... Roberts stole his 22nd base in 27 attempts this season, matching the total Tom Goodwin led the Dodgers with in 28 tries last year.

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