Lowe Pitches Well But Loses 15th Game

SAN DIEGO, California-- Another day, another loss for the Dodgers who could only manage four hits, including Oscar Robles fifth home run, while losing 3-1. And just short of a year since Derek Lowe sparked the Boston Red Sox to a World Series victory, he lost his 15th game, despite allowing only two earned runs and five hits.

Lowe won a dozen beside losing 15 despite a 3.61 ERA and a solid 222 innings. With Jeff Weaver (224 innings) probably gone to test the waters of free agency, the Dodgers will be searching for another experienced arm for their 2006 comeback attempts.

"I have kind of run out of positive things to say," the veteran right-hander told the Los Angeles Daily News. "When you think Los Angeles Dodgers, you think pride and a winning history. But to be 20 games under .500 coming off a season when they won (93) games and went to the playoffs, hopefully this won't happen again."

Millions of Dodger fans hope he is right.

"There is no one thing that led to this year," Lowe said. "Obviously, the injuries didn't help. But if I had an answer, we probably would all have an answer, and then we probably wouldn't be standing here with the record (70-90) we have."

The Padres victory assured them they will finish the season at least at .500. There's never been a division champion in a non-strike year that's finished with a losing record. The Padres are 81-79 with two to play.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, fell to 70-90. The last time they had 90 or more losses was 1992, when they lost 99 and finished inn last place for only the second time in a franchise that started operations in the National League in 1890.

The Dodgers, who are in a terrible slump while playing out the final games of a dismal season, were held to three hits and one run in seven innings.

Dioner Navarro singled in the second, Robles homered in the fourth, Jose Cruz Jr. doubled leading off the seventh and Robles got his second hit, a single, and the last Los Angeles hit in the ninth before being erased on a double play.

Lowe did a very professional job, allowing three runs in the third inning on one hit. A hit batsman, two walks, a sacrifice fly, a single to right that knocked in the second run and an error on the throw to third by Cruz that hit the runner and bounced away, allowing the final run of the game did the damage.

Lowe gave up only three more hits, all singles, before leaving with one out in the seventh. Franquelis Osoria finished the inning and Duaner Sanchez worked a hitless eighth.

The Dodgers have 14 hits and have scored just six runs in losing four straight.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Manager Jim Tracy, who has eight days after the season ends Sunday to decide whether to exercise the escape clause in his two-year contract, and if he leaves, all seven of the Dodgers coaches, who are unsigned beyond this season, may leave with Tracy. …The Dodgers are trying to schedule a March 31 exhibition game at Cashman Field in Las Vegas, said a high-ranking club official who didn't want to be named. The game wouldn't affect the Freeway Series with the Angels, which traditionally closes out spring training for both clubs and would begin the following night at Dodger Stadium. …One week after general manager Paul DePodesta said he hoped to re-sign Paul Bako, the catcher hinted that his interest in returning could hinge on whether he believes the Dodgers can be competitive in 2006. …Tracy gave Jeff Kent the night off and said he might not start any of the final three games with San Diego. …Kent is one of four National Leaguers (and one of seven Los Angeles Dodgers in history) to score 100 runs and drive in 100 runs, joining MVP candidates Albert Pujols, Derrek Lee and Miguel Cabrera. He needs one home run to break Davey Lopes' 1979 single-season franchise record for home runs by a second baseman (28 of Kent's 29 came while he played second base). Kent leads the Dodgers with 149 games played, 553 at-bats, 100 runs, 100 RBI, 160 hits, 283 total bases, 36 doubles, 29 homers, 72 walks and eight intentional walks. He is the first Los Angeles Dodgers player to lead the club in all of those categories in the same season. …Jason Repko will spend much of this winter at his eastern Washington home working on an exercise program designed to strengthen his legs. Although he's considered the fastest on the Dodgers roster, he said a badly torn hamstring suffered in 2000 has never completely healed. …Edwin Jackson starts tonight in place of Brad Penny and Elmer Dessens is scheduled to start on Sunday in place of Jeff Weaver in the season-ending weekend.