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Blake's HR propels Dodgers past Mets

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LOS ANGELES (AP)

Minus Manny Ramirez, the Los Angeles Dodgers are finding other players to deliver clutch hits. Casey Blake hit a go-ahead, three-run homer off John Maine in the sixth inning and the Dodgers scored earlier with the help of another New York Mets error in a 5-3 victory Tuesday night. "It felt good to be back in there tonight and pick the team up," said Blake, who hit his team-high ninth homer after missing two games with tightness in his left hamstring. "Home runs are a product of getting good pitches to hit and putting a good swing on them. I'll take 'em when I can get them, but I'm not a huge home run guy." Chad Billingsley (6-1) struck out seven in 6 1-3 innings for the win, allowing three runs, four hits and five walks. He also hit an RBI double, helping the defending NL West champions improve their major league-best record to 28-13 and extend their division lead over San Francisco to 7 1/2 games. "I like this team," Blake said. "We've got a lot of great young players here, and they're a lot of fun to play with and be around." Dodgers second baseman Orlando Hudson, the only player on the team to start all 41 games, bruised his left shoulder diving for a bloop single by Jose Reyes in the seventh and had to leave the game. Reyes' hit put runners at first and second with two outs. Gary Sheffield, fighting a slight virus, grounded out to backup second baseman Juan Castro as a pinch-hitter for Daniel Murphy after lefty reliever Brent Leach was replaced by fellow rookie Ronald Belisario. Cory Wade pitched a scoreless eighth and Jonathan Broxton retired the side in order in the ninth for his 10th save in 12 attempts. Maine (3-3) gave up five runs - four earned - and nine hits over 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander, who was 3-0 with a 2.19 ERA in his previous four starts, took a 3-1 lead into the sixth. But James Loney and Matt Kemp hit one-out singles, and Blake homered into the left-field pavilion - two pitches after pitching coach Dan Warthen went out for a chat with Maine. "They got a bloop hit and then a home run on a bad slider," Maine said. "It's just the way it seems to always go and it's frustrating. I just have to do a better job of concentrating." Maine gave himself a 2-1 lead in the second, lining a two-run single with the bases loaded after Billingsley intentionally walked Jeremy Reed with two outs and followed that with a walk to Omir Santos. "I think that second inning sort of unraveled him a little bit, where he just got to the point where he started trying to overthrow the ball and he really got out of rhythm," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "If you would have told me he was going to go into the seventh inning after that second inning, I'd say you were crazy. But this kid is a battler. The last few innings he was in there, he slowed down the tempo and was more able to command his pitches." The Mets tacked on another run in the third on an RBI single by David Wright that extended his hitting streak to 11 games. Billingsley's RBI double trimmed New York's lead to 3-2 in the fourth, after a two-out single by Blake. The Mets, who committed five errors in Monday night's 11-inning loss, were at it again in the first when a liner to left field by leadoff man Juan Pierre glanced off the glove of a charging Murphy. Pierre scored on Hudson's single - the 20th unearned run given up by Mets pitchers in 39 games. "The middle of our order hasn't really been doing a lot of damage," Torre said. "The top three guys have been doing well, and Casey on the bottom has been doing well. So we've been fortunate."

Notes

Reyes returned to the lineup after missing five starts with stiffness in his right calf. ... The Mets have committed 32 errors, the third-highest total in the majors behind Washington (41) and Seattle (34). ... Dodgers C Russell Martin does not have a home run in 134 at-bats.
Tagged: Dodgers, Mets

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