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DODGERS 6, ASTROS 2

A grand night for Garciaparra

His slam helps Dodgers prevail

Dodgers’ Nomar Garciaparra trots around the bases after hitting a grand slam against the Astros in the ninth inning.
Dodgers’ Nomar Garciaparra trots around the bases after hitting a grand slam against the Astros in the ninth inning. (AP Photo)

HOUSTON -- Nomar Garciaparra was just looking to make contact against Brad Lidge in the ninth inning.

He ended up with his first big hit for his new team.

Garciaparra hit a go-ahead grand slam off Lidge for his first RBIs with the Dodgers, sending Los Angeles to a 6-2 win over the Houston Astros last night.

''I just threw the barrel at it, tried to drive it," Garciaparra said. ''Fortunately for me I got lucky and it went out for me."

Andy Pettitte held the Dodgers hitless until J.D. Drew homered with one out in the seventh to tie the score at 1. Lance Berkman's eighth-inning shot put Houston ahead again, but Lidge (0-1) couldn't hold the lead.

''Obviously, that was a tough inning for me," Lidge said. ''My control wasn't there."

After Kenny Lofton tripled with one out, the All-Star closer walked Drew and Jeff Kent. Garciaparra then drove a 2-2 pitch to left-center for his sixth career slam and first since June 22, 2004, with Boston against Minnesota.

''I threw him two fastballs I thought were pretty good," Lidge said, ''and then I threw him the third one and he was right on it."

Garciaparra was thinking small as he stepped into the box. He just wanted to avoid a double play and give Bill Mueller a chance to hit after him.

''Just get a ball I can drive and get it up in the air," Garciaparra said. ''If you get the ball in the air, you get a guy in. If not . . . you've got a guy in Bill Mueller who will give you a good at-bat."

Garciaparra was playing in only his second game since returning from a brief minor league rehab stint. He missed the first 17 games of the season with a strained muscle in his rib cage.

Mike Gallo replaced Lidge and gave up an RBI single to Dioner Navarro.

Lidge had been 7 for 7 on save opportunities this year. It was his first blown save since he gave up Albert Pujols's mammoth home run in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series last October against St. Louis. Lidge also had two losses in the World Series against the Chicago White Sox.

In spring training, Lidge insisted he had shaken off those failures by the following day. He said he would do the same this time.

''If I was more concerned, it would be a bad problem," Lidge said. ''Tonight, I'll be upset with myself. Tomorrow, I'll come back out and feel the same as I would if I had eight saves in a row."

Danys Baez entered for the Dodgers with two on in the bottom of the ninth and closed it out for his sixth save. He got Brad Ausmus on a fly ball before Adam Everett grounded into a game-ending double play.

The Dodgers snapped the Astros' three-game winning streak. Houston had won seven of eight.

Garciaparra's shot spoiled the strongest start of the season by Pettitte, who yielded just one hit in seven innings. He struck out five and walked three.

''I was putting the ball right where I wanted to, pretty much all night," Pettitte said. ''It's just frustrating. You hate to let that one get away from us."

Berkman connected off winner Takashi Saito (2-0).

Saito relieved starter Derek Lowe, who was almost as good as Pettitte. Lowe gave up one run and four hits in seven innings.

Ausmus had three of those hits, including an RBI double in the second.

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