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CIN@LAD: Gomes dives toward the line to make the grab

LOS ANGELES -- Any jet lag, time zone adjustments or other negatives related to making the often-dreaded West Coast road trip were all worth it this time for the Reds.

The Reds' 7-2 victory over the Dodgers on Wednesday meant a three-game series sweep, something they hadn't accomplished at Chavez Ravine since May 14-16, 2004. It was the perfect topping to a 5-2 West Coast trip through San Francisco and Los Angeles. The last winning West Coast jaunt for Cincinnati was also 2004, when it went 7-4.

"A 5-2 trip, I think we'd take that 10 out of 10 times before we left," said third baseman Scott Rolen, who had the biggest day with three hits, including a pair of RBI doubles.

An early 7-1 lead through four innings, including four runs in the third inning, made life a little easier for Reds starter Travis Wood. Despite the quality start, it was far from a smooth day for Wood. Although he gave up only one run over six innings, the left-hander allowed five hits and five walks -- including one intentional -- and struck out two.

Wood gave up a two-out double to Andre Ethier in the first inning and after intentionally walking Matt Kemp, issued two more walks to load the bases. The free pass to Marcus Thames forced in a run, but Wood left the bases loaded when he got James Loney to fly out to right field.

"A rough first, but I was able to settle down," Wood said. "It was a battle all game though. Fortunately, I thought I was able to keep them just enough off balance and keep them from scoring."

Some superlative defense also saved Wood, who erased some rallies with a pair of double plays. But it was someone not known as much for defense -- left fielder Jonny Gomes -- who will occupy much of the highlight reels.

In the Dodgers' third, with runners on first and second, Gomes made a spectacular fully-extended diving catch on Loney's tailing fly to the left-field foul line to end the inning. Wood thanked Gomes with an emphatic point in his direction.

"It really hurts," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "It kind of puts a little sting into us because if we get two runs we're right back in that game. That was obviously a nice play."

There were more to come. Gomes also made a tumbling catch in the fourth to take a hit from Ethier, and a sliding catch in the eighth inning to rob Dee Gordon.

"Gomes played an outstanding outfield today," Wood said. "If the ball was going up, I wanted it hit to him the way he was playing today. We also had some good clutch double plays and that helped a lot."

In the top of the second, Rolen's double through the gap in right-center field scored Brandon Phillips from first base. Rolen later scored from third base on Fred Lewis' one-out double to left field.

Nine Reds came to the plate in the third inning. Rolen drove an RBI single to left field, scoring Edgar Renteria. Gomes followed with a single that loaded the bases and a Lewis walk brought Votto home. Ryan Hanigan made it a 6-1 game with a two-run single into left field, and Rolen added a two-out RBI double to left field off of Chad Billingsley in the fourth.

Rolen had a very productive series, with four doubles and four RBIs, after missing Monday's game with a sore left foot. He fouled a ball off of his leg on Sunday.

"I can play on it," Rolen said. "It might not be pretty sometimes. I might be hobbling around a little bit but I'm not hurt."

Sitting pretty has been the Reds pitching staff. The rotation went 5-0 on the trip with a 1.63 ERA, and over the club's last 10 games, the starting five is 7-1 with a 1.90 ERA.

The Reds' woes out west have been well-chronicled over the years, as they are now 27-43 there over the last six seasons. That included a 0-12 stretch at Dodger Stadium from 2005-09.

"A real nice birthday present," said manager Dusty Baker, who turned 62 on Wednesday. "It's first time I can remember winning a game on my birthday. That's the one thing I wanted today. That was the perfect ending to this West Coast trip."

The gift that will keep on giving is if Baker's club can sustain the momentum past Thursday's off-day, and continue to close the narrowing gap behind St. Louis and Milwaukee in the National League Central.

Third-place Cincinnati (37-33), which entered the day 2 1/2 games out of first, hadn't won three in a row since a five-game winning streak from May 13-17. Hard times followed, including a six-game losing streak and a 5-13 stretch.

"We'll see what it means when we get home," Baker said of the trip's importance. "Hopefully we can get more distance between us and .500, and get back to where we were before that tough 20-game stretch."

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