Dodgers Edge Past Cardinals 5-4

The Associated Press
Thursday, May 17, 2007; 2:35 AM

LOS ANGELES -- Wilson Betemit has been a major disappointment so far this season when used in the Los Angeles Dodgers' starting lineup. He's been exceptional coming off the bench, though. Betemit's three-run, pinch-hit homer with two outs in the fifth inning drove in the go-ahead runs, and the Dodgers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-4 Wednesday night.

Batting for winning pitcher Randy Wolf, Betemit hit a 1-0 pitch from Kip Wells (1-8) over the center-field fence to give the Dodgers a 5-3 lead, and the Los Angeles bullpen limited the Cardinals to one run after that.

Betemit is 4-for-5 with three homers as a pinch hitter, and 10-for-67 with one homer otherwise. He began the season as the starting third baseman, but has been splitting time lately with rookie Andy LaRoche.

"He's been awfully good for us coming off the bench," Dodgers manager Grady Little said. "He's a valuable part of this team."

Wolf (5-3) allowed six hits and three runs, two earned, in five innings while walking one and striking out seven. The left-hander threw 89 pitches before Little decided to hit for him with two on and two outs in the fifth.

"We're probably looking for one more inning max out of him," Little said. "We had a chance to score some runs, and we took it."

Betemit's bat did the talking for him on this night _ he left the clubhouse before reporters arrived.

Wolf spoke on his behalf.

"As a competitor, you want to stay out there _ five innings isn't exactly what you want to do," Wolf said. "I think Grady had a good feeling about Wilson, and it turned out great. Wilson came up and he got the big hit of the night."

The win was the fifth in six games for the Dodgers, putting them a season-high nine games over .500, and their second straight over St. Louis following a 10-game losing streak to the Cardinals.

Takashi Saito, the fifth Dodgers pitcher, worked the ninth for his second save in two nights and 13th of the season. He has converted 23 straight opportunities dating to last year.

Wells has lost his last seven starts, allowing 37 earned runs in 39 innings for an 8.54 ERA during that stretch. He leads the NL in losses and earned runs allowed (39).

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