SAN FRANCISCO -- Manager Jim Tracy has been saying all along that the Dodgers only need more consistent starting pitching to get back on track.
Seeing their star closer on the mound again is a big bonus, too.
Pinch-hitter Ricky Ledee hit a tiebreaking two-run single in the ninth inning and Antonio Perez hit a two-run homer among his career-high four hits and drove in three runs, leading Los Angeles over the San Francisco Giants 6-4 on Thursday night.
"It was a big night," Perez said. "I'm more comfortable. If I play every day, I'm more confident and I see the ball better."
Eric Gagne converted his first save opportunity of the season by recording the final three outs, but he allowed consecutive doubles to Michael Tucker and Omar Vizquel. The right-hander hadn't saved a game since Sept. 26 against the Giants in San Francisco. Gagne spent the first 35 games this year on the disabled list with a sprained ligament in his right elbow and had made only four appearances.
He has so many saves to his name that the first one of the year meant little. Beating the bitter rival was what truly mattered.
"I don't care at all," he said of the save. "Mentally, it was just good to get a win right now. We need to get a little rhythm."
Yhency Brazoban (2-0) recorded two outs and got the win despite allowing Edgardo Alfonzo's tying two-run single in the eighth.
The Dodgers snapped San Francisco's four-game winning streak and avoided their first three-game sweep by the Giants since April 10-13, 2003.
Jason Christiansen (2-1) walked J.D. Drew to start the inning, then gave way to Tyler Walker. He allowed a single to Perez followed by a 3-2 walk to Paul Bako before Ledee's go-ahead hit.
"The guys really rallied to come back and then things happened really quickly," said Walker, who had retired 19 of the 20 batters he faced since taking over as closer. "We were anticipating a bunt and (Perez) hits it to right for his fourth hit. With Ledee, I was trying to get a groundball and it went through my legs."
Deivi Cruz led off the eighth with his first career pinch-hit home run and third homer of the year, a shot to left.
Tucker followed with a groundout, then Vizquel singled to center to chase Dodgers starter Brad Penny. Brazoban relieved and immediately gave up a double to J.T. Snow. Ellison entered to pinch-run for Snow, then Moises Alou drew a walk to load the bases for Ray Durham. He flied out to left and Vizquel didn't have time to head home. Then Alfonzo produced the tying hit.
Penny pitched 7 1/3 sharp innings, but saw his winless stretch reach four starts. His last victory came May 6 at Cincinnati.
Penny experienced this rivalry on the field for the first time. He was acquired by the Dodgers from Florida last July 30, but made just three starts last season for Los Angeles because of a strained right biceps. The injury kept him out of action until April 24 this year.
Penny allowed a single to Vizquel in the first and walked Alou two batters later, then got 10 straight outs.
"The start we got from Brad Penny is a good beginning," Tracy said. "He was absolutely terrific tonight."
Perez connected with two outs in the second, sending a 1-0 pitch from Kirk Rueter over the left-field fence for his first home run of the season. He hit an RBI single in his next at-bat in the fourth.
Rueter, the losing pitcher Friday against Oakland, looked great aside from a couple of costly mistakes. He worked 7 1/3 innings for his longest outing since going eight innings on May 7 last year at Cincinnati.
He has hit safely in four of his last seven starts. He singled in the fifth, but gave everyone a scare when first baseman Olmedo Saenz's arm came across Rueter's head trying for the out and caused the pitcher to stumble hard.
"Any time you take two out of three, that's good, especially in your division," Rueter said.
Durham saw his 13-game hitting streak end with an 0-for-4 night. Durham missed Wednesday's game with an ingrown toenail and sat out Sunday with a sprained left middle finger.
Bako, the Dodgers' catcher, felt a strange twinge in his left knee in the ninth and left the game. He will be evaluated Friday, though it wasn't considered to be serious.
L.A.'s Cesar Izturis went 0-for-5 to have his nine-game hitting streak snapped. ... Barry Bonds hopes he's close to decreasing his daily dose of antibiotics to a single pill. Bonds will have a routine blood test Friday to make sure the San Francisco slugger is progressing from the antibiotics he's taking to control the infection in his surgically repaired right knee. "My leg is good. It's getting better," he said, giving a thumbs-up sign and a grin. ... San Francisco drew 40,147, marking the 20th straight season the Giants have gone over 1 million. ... Penny struck out four and needs one more to reach 600 career K's.