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Dodgers Edge Cardinals In 9th


Charles Johnson says he's getting used to his new surroundings, and seeing the ball better.

It's certainly paying off.

Johnson, who has broken out of the worst slump of his career with a vengeance, hit a one-out RBI single in the bottom of the ninth Thursday to give the Los Angeles Dodgers a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Johnson went 2-for-4, and has 10 hits in his last 23 at-bats after an 0-for-35 spell that began shortly after he came from the Dodgers in the seven-player blockbuster trade with the Florida Marlins on May 15.

"I'm starting to settle in a lot better," said Johnson, who has lifted his batting average to .209. "I'm just glad I was able to drive in a run to win a ballgame. This was a big win for us, you've got to start somewhere."

The Dodgers have won two in a row since losing four straight. The Cardinals, meanwhile, have lost five of their last six.

Jim Eisenreich, also involved in the trade with Florida last month, started the winning rally with a one-out single off Jeff Brantley (0-2), the fourth St. Louis pitcher.

Eisenreich then stole second, and came home when Johnson lined a 2-2 pitch to left-center field.

Scott Radinsky (2-2), the third Los Angeles pitcher, pitched out of a two-on, two-out jam in the top of the ninth to earn the victory.

The inning ended when Brian Jordan lined to second baseman Eric Young and Willie McGee was doubled off second base.

"No excuses, man," McGee said. "That's all I've got to say. I screwed up, I made a mistake. That's all that needs to be said."

Radinsky blew two saves that turned into Los Angeles losses during the recent four-game losing streak. He has a save and a win in his team's last two games.

"The demons have got to nest somewhere else," he said. "I hope it turns around for the team, that's a big old build for us, a big win in the bottom of the ninth."

The Dodgers tied it 2-2 in the eighth off Curtis King on a two-out, run-scoring single by Eric Karros, who drove in five runs in a 7-4 Los Angeles victory a night earlier.

"We feel very good about this win, coming back the way we did," Dodgers manager Bill Russell said. "We got a big hit by Karros and an even bigger hit by Johnson."

The Cardinals played without slugger Mark McGwire, who has been sidelined since suffering lower back spasms in the first inning of Monday night's game in San Diego.

McGwire leads with majors with 27 homers and also has an NL-leading 68 RBIs.

"It helps," Johnson said of McGwire's absence. "You look at a guy like McGwire, any given day he can hit two or three home runs. He's scary. You love to see him play because he does so much for baseball, you don't want o see him beat you."

Said McGwire: "I didn't play, but so be it. We've got four months left."

The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead against Chan Ho Park in the second on singles by Gary Gaetti, John Mabry and Tom Lampkin. Gaetti's sacrifice fly in the fifth made it 2-0.

The Dodgers got their first run in the sixth when Gary Sheffield doubled off John Frascatore and scored on Raul Mondesi's two-out single off King.

St. Louis starter Juan Acevedo was lifted due to stiffness in his pitching elbow after allowing just one hit in three scoreless innings.

Frascatore went the next 2 2-3 innings, and King pitched 2 1-3 innings. Each was charged with one run.

Park was lifted for a pinch hitter after allowing five hits and two runs in seven innings. He walked four and struck out five.

Notes:

  • McGwire stretched, jogged and played catch before the game, but didn't take batting practice. He hopes to play this weekend during a three-game series between the Cardinals and San Francisco Giants in St. Louis.
  • Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax visited the Los Angeles clubhouse before the game. Koufax pitched for the Dodgers from 1955-66.
  • The attendance was 41,181, lifting the Dodgers over the 1 million mark in their 26th home game this season. The Dodgers have drawn 1,003,806 and are averaging over 38,500 per home date third-most in the NL behind Colorado and Arizona.
  • The Dodgers, 9-7 in interleague play last year, open their 13-game interleague schedule Friday night with the first of three games at Seattle before returning home to host a three-game series against Oakland.
  • The Cardinals begin their interleague schedule next Monday when they open a three-game series at Chicago against the White Sox.

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