WEST COAST Cora's homer lifts Dodgers past Bucs
Alex Cora's seventh-inning blast made the Dodgers and Jose Lima winners.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Alex Cora made sure Jose Lima got a win out of his latest impressive outing.
Lima pitched seven solid innings and was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the seventh inning.
That is when Cora hit a tie-breaking home run that helped the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 on Wednesday night.
Cora's two-out homer down the right-field line in the seventh against Josh Fogg was his career-high seventh this season and the 125th by the Dodgers, one more than they had all last season.
"I've been consistent with my swing the whole season," Cora said. "Some fastballs I'm getting the bat head out on and they're going out, but I'm not trying to hit home runs. It's just a case of being patient and getting your pitch. It was a fastball low and away, I just dropped the head of the bat and it went out. I was just hoping it would stay fair."
The NL West leaders won for the 23rd time in 29 games and put themselves a season-high 20 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2002 season. They opened up a 51/2-game lead over San Diego, their largest since July 3, 1994.
But center fielder Steve Finley, in just his third game with the team after last Friday's trade from Arizona, left after five innings because of soreness in his right hamstring and isn't expected to play in today's matinee.
Lima (10-3) threw just 73 pitches, allowing a run and six hits while striking out two. The right-hander kept the score tied in the sixth by retiring Craig Wilson on a grounder to short with two men in scoring position.
"Lima is the most positive thing around here," Eric Gagne said after posting his 32nd save. "He's amazing. He brings positive energy every day and it rubs off on everybody. Everybody's feeding off him."
Lima did not walk a batter. The Pirates have drawn a major league-low 245 walks, including just three over their last four games.
"When we start hitting home runs, we'll walk more," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "Walks come from the pitchers being concerned about you, and right now we don't have a lot of guys who they're overly concerned with -- as far as leaving the ballpark. When you pitch more carefully to guys, you have a tendency to walk them."
In addition to his pinpoint control, Lima also helped himself defensively. He turned an attempted sacrifice bunt by Randall Simon into a dazzling inning-ending double play in the fourth. Lima barely got the ball to shortstop Jose Hernandez for the force on Rob Mackowiak before Simon was retired on another bang-bang play at first.
"I threw a strike to second base and it was a huge double play," Lima said.
Darren Dreifort pitched a perfect eighth inning and Gagne did likewise in the ninth to finish up the game in a tidy 2 hours, 4 minutes.
Fogg (6-8) allowed two runs and nine hits over seven innings, remaining winless in his last six starts with four no-decisions.