LOS ANGELES (Ticker) --
's push for National League Most Valuable Player just gained a little more momentum.
Beltre homered off star closer
in the bottom of the ninth and again off reliever
two innings later as the
Los Angeles Dodgers
posted a dramatic 3-2 triumph over the
After reigning Cy Young Award winner
continued his struggles by allowing the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth, Beltre bailed out his teammate with a blast just over the wall in right field. It was just the third blown save in 35 opportunities for Smoltz.
"Just a hair of a bad pitch to that guy," Smoltz said. "He ain't missing them right now."
Beltre, who homered twice in Thursday's series opener, gave the Dodgers their 11th win in 18 games and a much needed emotional lift with his major league-leading 38th homer, a shot to left off Cruz with one out in the 11th.
"This is the biggest home run of my career," Beltre said. "The way we lost the last couple of nights, we really needed this."
"I just missed a little and he took advantage," Cruz said. "He's a good hitter who's in a zone right now."
Already with a career high in home runs, Beltre is the only player in the NL to rank in the top seven in all three Triple Crown categories.
"The third baseman on our club, if anyone thought he might not be a candidate for MVP, I think we all know he should be high up on the ballot," Tracy said. "A homer off
in the ninth, and the homer of Cruz to win it. He's just tremendous."
"Nobody's even close to him," Gagne said. "He is the MVP. Anyone who says anything else is not very smart."
(3-0) ran his scoreless innings streak to 16 2/3 and notched the victory by allowing a hit over the final two frames.
Gagne had a blown save and a loss in his two previous appearances and was on the hook for the loss in this one before Beltre delivered.
"The last three days I haven't thrown the ball good," said Gagne. "Luckily, Belly picked me up tonight."
Los Angeles starter
pitched well, allowing a run and seven hits in eight innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out six.
"If I go 35 starts like this and never get another win, I'll take it," Lima said. "As long as we win ballgames, I don't care."
got the call for Atlanta and surrendered three hits and a run in seven innings.
Atlanta got on the scoreboard first. In the fourth inning,
led off with a single to right and scored on J.D. Drew's double into the right-center gap.
followed with a bloop single to put runners on first and third.
grounded to third, Lima struck out rookie Adam La Roche and
to end the threat.
"That situation was big," Lima said. "I knew what I had to do and I did it."
The Dodgers evened the game in the bottom half of the fourth as
drew a one-out walk and scored on Beltre's double.