Colorado reclaims NL West lead

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES Larry Walker hit two home runs and Bret Saberhagen won for the first time in nearly eight weeks last night as Colorado moved back into first place in the NL West by beating Los Angeles 7-3.

With five days left in the season and one game left in this series, the Rockies lead the division by a half-game. Los Angeles leads Houston by a half-game in the wild card race.

Walker's second home run of the game off pitcher Tom Candiotti (7-14), a two-run shot to right-centerfield following a leadoff walk to Dante Bichette in the sixth, snapped a 2-2 tie. It was the third two-homer game of the season for Walker, who has a career-high 34.

Ellis Burks hit a two-out, two-run single off Pedro Astacio in the eighth and Joe Girardi had a two-out RBI single in the ninth to give the Rockies some breathing room.

Saberhagen (7-6), who has been plagued by an inflamed right elbow and was pitching for the first time in 10 days, limited the Dodgers to just seven hits and three runs, two earned, in 51/3 innings. He walked three batters and struck out three.

Five relievers came on for the Rockies, and 11 of the last 12 Dodgers hitters were retired.

Saberhagen, who threw 84 pitches, is 2-1 with five no-decisions since the Rockies acquired him from the New York Mets on July 31. The first win was a 9-4 decision over the Dodgers on Aug. 3 in his Colorado debut.

The Dodgers left 10 runners on base in the first six innings, 11 overall.

Los Angeles got an unearned run in the last of the sixth to make it 4-3, but blew a big chance to tie or go ahead. Raul Mondesi reached on an error by third baseman Vinny Castilla and took second on pinch-hitter Dave Hansen's one-out single. Mike Munoz relieved and gave up an RBI single to Brett Butler before walking Chad Fonville on four pitches to load the bases. Darren Holmes then replaced Munoz and retired Mike Piazza on a popup and struck out Eric Karros to end the inning.

The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI single by Raul Mondesi. The Rockies tied it in the fourth when Walker hit his first homer.

Both teams scored in the fifth the Rockies on a two-out single by Eric Young and the Dodgers on a two-out single by Delino DeShields.

Notes: The game was played before a crowd of 44,415. In tonight's finale of the series, which is also the last home game of the season for the Dodgers, Kevin Ritz (11-10) is the scheduled Colorado starter against Kevin Tapani (3-2). The game is a sellout. ... The Rockies finish the season with four home games against San Francisco starting tomorrow night while the Dodgers wind up with three games at San Diego beginning Friday night. ... Saberhagen was the 17th Colorado starter in the last 21 games to last less than six innings. ... Mondesi's run-scoring single in the second was only his fifth RBI in the last 17 games. ... The Dodgers left two runners on base in the fourth and fifth innings and the bases loaded in the sixth. They weren't retired in order until the seventh. ... Los Angeles is 8-4 against Colorado this year.

Read Next Article