Twelve outs away from first place

Thanks to more excellent pitching by Brad Penny and more timely hitting by Nomar Garciaparra and Andre Ether — and, gasp, even a double by Wilson Betemit — the Dodgers are rolling along with a nice lead. But the most interesting thing that has happened so far is the long-awaited emergence of Juan Pierre. He drew a one-out walk in the first, stole second and scored on Nomar’s double. But it was in the third when Pierre demonstrated the degree to which he can change a game. First, he led off the inning by beating out a single to shortstop. Then, he was running on the pitch when Nomar hit what would have beeen an easy doubleplay grounder to short, and Stephen Drew’s only play was at first. When Jeff Kent followed with a grounder to third, Pierre pretended he was going to hold at second. But as soon as Chad Tracy fired the ball across the diamond, Pierre took off for third, and got there so easily that first baseman Conor Jackson didn’t even try to throw him out. When Edgar Gonzalez then bounced his first pitch to Luis Gonzalez and past catcher Miguel Montero, allowing Pierre to score easily to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead. Dodgers 4, Snakes 0, bottom 6

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