Dodgers Die With Their Boots

Derek Lowe didn't pitch another one-hitter, but he came pretty close, running his hitless inning streak to 12.1 and retiring 37 batters without a hit, but fielding gaffes and runners left in scoring position broke up a pretty good pitcher's duel with San Francisco stuffing the Dodgers further behind both themselves and the Padres in the final days of the pennant race with a 3-1 win.

The Dodgers had hits in seven of the eight innings but hit into double plays in the second, third, fourth, sixth and seventh innings and left two on and two out in the ninth.

Lowe retired the first 11 he faced before giving up a sharp single to J.T. Snow in the fourth inning, coupled with his 8.2 hitless innings against the Cubs July 31.

He finished the game after six innings, having only allowed an unearned run while allowing seven hits and striking out a season-high eight.

Yhency Brazoban gave up another unearned run in the eighth and was stuck with the loss. Steve Schmoll finished and the Giants had a pair of hits and a run against him in the ninth.

Lowe finally allowed a run when a single ran through the legs of left-fielder Jose Valentin with a runner at first base when a sac fly made it 1-0 in the fifth.

The Dodgers tied in the seventh on a single by Jose Cruz, two walks and pinch-hitter Ricky Ledee's sacrifice fly but the Giants bounced right back to put up a single run in the eighth and ninth.

Third baseman Mike Edwards threw a ball away in the eighth with two runners on base to make it 2-1 and a two-out double steal scored the final run in the ninth.

The Dodgers had a pair of chances to break things open and just couldn't get the job done.

In the sixth, Jeff Kent scorched a shot into left-center with two on and Moises Alou made a remarkable catch to cut off a probable two-run double.

In the seventh, L.A. loaded the bases with one out and the count went 3-1 on Ledee before his sac fly scored one but Jason Werth was nailed attempting to go from second to third, making it a sacrifice fly double play.

The sizzling Giants have forced themselves back in the pennant race, winning eight of nine games and six in a row. And with Barry Bonds taking batting practice before the game, and hitting the ball nearly out of the park with one shot, have been given both a physical and emotional lift.

The Giants scored first with Ray Duram led off in the fifth with a single to center and with out Todd Linden singled to left. The ball ran through Valentin's legs, allowing Duram to move to third and then score when rookie Yamid Haad, who was 1-for-18, knocked him in with a fly to center. It was Haad's first major league RBI.

The Dodgers were putting men on base each inning but getting cut down by double plays -- and remarkable fielding efforts -- until the seventh, Jose Cruz singled and with one out, both Jayson Werth, who walked four times, and Valentin drew free passes.

Pinch-hitter Ricky Ledee hit a short fly to left-center and Cruz scored. First baseman J.T. Snow cut the throw to the plate off and nailed Werth advancing to third base for an inning-ending double play.

The Giants bounced back in the eighth on a pinch-single by Lance Niekro off Brazoban, a sacrifice and a two-out walk. Third baseman Mike Edwards fielded a hot shot at third and threw the ball into right field, allowing the Giants second run to score.

In the ninth, Durham doubled, was bunted to third and Linden was hit by a Schmoll pitch with one out. Edgardo Alfonso fanned for the second out. Linden then broke for second and Dodger catcher Dioner Navarro freeze Durham at third, throwing the ball to second base.

The throw hit the runner and Durham trotted on what was ruled a double steal and San Francisco had a comfortable 3-1 lead. It was the first San Francisco steal of home since Darren Lewis did so against the Dodgers nearly 14 years ago.

With two out in the last of the ninth, Navarro lived on an error and Werth coaxed his fourth walk. Hee- Seop Choi fouled off a number of pitches before striking out, running the Dodger losing streak to four and five of the last six.

The loss dropped the Dodgers 7 1/2 games behind San Diego for the first time since July 20, with 25 games to play. They are 2 1/2 games behind the streaking Giants and only a half-game ahead of the fourth-place Arizona Diamondbacks.

The numbers keep getting tougher. With 27 games left to play the Dodgers must go 22-5 to get to 81-81. If the Padres continue to play well, the "Wait 'Till Next Year" banner will have to be dusted out and hung on the front porch of Dodger Stadium.

Dodger Blue Notes-- When Jim Tracy was asked if he's coming back to manage the Dodgers in 2006 he replied "As far as I know." Tracy, who has one year remaining on his contract and even his critics must admit Walter Alston, Leo Durocher or John McGraw couldn't have don't much better with the Dodgers patchwork lineup. …Giovanni Carrara rejoined the club after missing four games to be with his 2-year-old son, Giovanni Jr., who had a seizure. Carrara said that his son will undergo further tests next week to pinpoint the cause of a chemical imbalance that doctors believe triggers the seizures. …Milton Bradley will have surgery to repair a partially torn patellar tendon in his left knee on Wednesday. The surgery will be performed in Cincinnati. Rehabilitation from such an operation usually takes six months or longer, which would make it unlikely that Bradley would be ready for the start of Spring Training, plus the MRI revealed some damage to the anterior cruciate ligament. …With the pennant race in a death spiral, the Dodger list of walking wounded is pretty academic but shortstop Cesar Izturis has started swinging a bat right-handed and taking ground balls, but pain continues to radiate down his right leg. Outfielder J.D. Drew, after a setback last week, is back to swinging off soft-toss. Wilson Alvarez had a 30-pitch bullpen session, using all his pitches. Odalis Perez is playing catch, but it's uncertain whether he will pitch again this year because of a sore shoulder. Plus, Ricky Ledee's tender hamstring limits him to pinch-hitting duties. Ledee said that he would take a third cortisone injection so he could continue playing. With nine players currently disabled, the Dodgers have amassed 965 games lost to the disabled list, more than 100 games greater than any other club in the division. …Jason Grabowski -- who spent all of last year and more than half of this year with the Major League club -- and Brian Myrow are expected to be promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas on today. Myrow was voted the Las Vegas MVP. …Brad Penny comes off suspension to start on tonight against the Giants.