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Garciaparra hits game-ending grand slam

Sep 24, 2006 - 11:58 PM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Nomar Garciaparra properly capped an unbelievable ending to the final regular season game at Dodger Stadium.

Garciaparra belted a game-winning grand slam as the Los Angeles Dodgers posted a thrilling 5-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the rubber game of a three-game series.

With the win, the Dodgers (82-74) remained one-half game behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League wild card race and 1 1/2 back of the San Diego Padres for first in the NL West.

"We needed to win this game so we can keep pace with the teams we are chasing and not lose more ground," Garciaparra said.

Six days ago, Garciaparra hit a game-winning homer in the 10th inning of an 11-10 home triumph over the Padres. His decisive hit came after the Dodgers connected on four consecutive homers in the ninth to draw even.

"It's a great feeling to help the team get a big win," Garciaparra said.

In the final home game of the 2006 campaign, Garciaparra once again displayed his ability to come through in the clutch.

With the game tied at 1-1, Marlon Anderson led off the ninth with a single to center against Luis Vizcaino (4-6), moved to second on rookie Russell Martin's sacrifice and to third on Oscar Robles' groundout to second.

After Rafael Furcal was intentionally walked and Kenny Lofton drew a walk to load the bases, Garciaparra deposited the righthander's fourth pitch into the center field seats for the victory.

"I was just looking for a pitch in my zone that I could drive and hopefully find a hole somewhere," Garciaparra said.

"He's (Garciaparra) been coming up with clutch hits for us all season long," Dodgers manager Grady Little said. "I just hope this gives us some momentum for the rest of our games."

Takashi Saito (6-2) tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to earn the win.

Los Angeles starter Hong-Chih Kuo was very impressive in his longest outing, striking out eight for the second straight start while pitching seven innings. He yielded an unearned run, four hits and two walks.

"He (Kuo) threw a great game today and kept us in the game to give us a chance to come out with a win," Martin said.

Arizona starter Livan Hernandez pitched seven effective frames, allowing a run and five hits. He struck out two against a season high-tying five walks.

"Livan didn't have his best control, but he battled and worked hard all game," Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said.

In the third, rookie Carlos Quentin put the Diamondbacks in front, 1-0, with a run-scoring double to right-center.

"I'm just trying to come out here and play hard and hopefully win a spot in the lineup next year," Quentin said.

The Dodgers tied it two innings later when Lofton stroked an RBI single to center.

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