Lowe Hits High Note in Six Inning Gem

VERO BEACH, Fla.-- Los Angeles received help for the second day in a row as Washington kicked the ball around in a five-run first inning, giving up five total runs and kick starting the Dodgers 10th win of the season. Derek Lowe became the first pitcher to work six innings and he did it in style, allowing only four hits and his first runs of the season in 13 innings. Bill Mueller was 3-for-3 with a homer and two RBI; Ricky Ledee had a homer and a double, resulting in a pair of runs batted in.

Lowe was in cruise-control all game and as an indication of how well he is pitching this year, he has only walked on over his first 13 innings while striking out 11. His ERA dipped to 0.69.

Rick Honeycutt's staff provided air-tight support over the final three innings as Greg Gagne, Jonathan Broxton and Danys Baez combined to allow no runs, one hit, one walk and striking outs four.

The only excitement the Washington team provided came when Manager Frank Robinson contested home plate umpire Hunter Wendlstedt's pitch calls from the dugout.

The complaints continued until the last of the third inning when Robinson, a former Dodger, came to home plate to air his remarks and was ejected from the game. Coach Davey Lopes, another ex-Dodger, joined the now-loud conversation at home plate and was also given the rest of the afternoon off, this time by Bruce Froemming the first base umpire.

Perhaps they were disturbed by the sloppy infield play the Nationals exhibited in the first inning, leading to four unearned runs and a comfortable 5-0 Dodger lead.

After Rafael Furcal and Kenny Lofton led off with singles, Jose Cruz bounced a ball to second base that was fumbled and thrown down the right field line, Furcal scoring on the play.

Jeff Kent's long fly to center scored the second run and Nomar Garciaparra, still unable to get his swing untracked, popped to first. Nomar is hitting only .171.

Bill Mueller singled home a run and Ricky Ledee's double to right field proceeded another fumble and wild throw, this time by the third baseman as the fourth and fifth runs crossed the plate.

A third former Dodger, Daryl Ward, booted a ball at first base later in the game but Washington managed to avoid giving up a run.

Mueller slugged his third homer in the third inning and after the National's broke Lowe's scoreless streak at 10.2 innings, Ledee collected his first homer with Mueller on first with a single. Mueller boosted his average to .379 with his three hits.

Doubles by Sandy Alomar and Ramon Martinez pushed across the ninth run of the game in the seventh.

Gagne, pitching on two days rest for the first time, followed Lowe and while his curve and changeup are working to perfection, his fastball is not all that fast as of yet and out of the strike zone. He is obviously still a work in progress.

Jonathan Broxton blew Washington away in the eight, fanning two and Baez had no trouble in a 1-2-3 ninth.
  Dodgers       ab r h bi ave
Furcal ss        4 1 2 0 .250
  Martinez ss    1 0 1 1 .379 
Lofton cf        4 1 1 0 .167
  Ross cf        1 0 0 0 .348
Cruz lf          3 1 1 0 .333
  Young lf       1 0 0 0 .138
Kent 2b          3 0 0 1 .263
  Robles 2b      1 0 0 0 .286
Garciaparra 1b   4 0 0 0 .171
  Loney 1b       1 0 0 0 .438
Mueller 3b       3 3 3 2 .379
  Aybar 3b       1 0 0 0 .194
Ledee rf         4 2 2 2 .267
  Ethier rf      0 0 0 0 .227
Alomar c         4 1 1 0 .267
  Bellorin c     0 0 0 0 .600
Lowe p           3 0 1 0 .333
  *Saena         0 0 0 0 .000
 Gagne p         0 0 0 0 .000
  Broxton p      0 0 0 0 .000
  Baez p         0 0 0 0 .000
  Totals       38 9 12 8 .259
  Washington   33 1   5 1 .263

  Score by innings
Washington  000 100 000-1
Dodgers     501 020 10x-9

  Dodgers     in h r-er bb so era
Lowe (w, 3-0)  6 4 1-1  0 3 0.69
Gagne          1 0 0-0  1 1 0.00
Broxton        1 1 0-0  0 2 6.75
Baez           1 0 0-0  0 1 2.25
  Totals       9 5 1-1  1 7 3.44
  Washington  8 12 9-5  2 2 5.90
The Kuo Question --Young Hong-Chic Kuo has been so spectacular this spring (5 games, 6.1 innings, 1 hit, 8 strikeouts with righthanders going 0-for-10 against him) that he has caused the Dodger brass to rethink his situation. Should he be sent to Las Vegas to get more experience, should he be a closer, situational lefthander or perhaps sometime in the future a starter? After opening his professional career with seven strikeouts in nine innings, he blew his elbow on the final hitter. two T.J. operations later he fanned 96 hitters in 59.2 innings at Vero Beach, Jacksonville and Los Angeles. As pitching coach Rick Honeycutt says, "The overriding question is how can he help the club the most right now?

Happy Birthday-- Mike Griffin (1865-1908), John Schardt (1891-1964), John Butler (1894-1967), Jim Golden (70), Terry McDermott (55), Rick Parker (43), Bill Brunson (36).

Dodger Blue Notes-- While Kou is getting the headlines, another pitcher who has two Tommy John operations on his resume has quietly equalled his record. Carter, obtained with Danys Baez from Tampa Bay for young starters Edwin Jackson and Chuck Tiffany, has worked six games and allowed no runs and six hits over his nine innings. …Dodger Manager Grady Little says he is leaning toward carrying 11 pitchers, at least early in the season. Realistically there are 11 pitchers in the battle for three spots. Cutting down by April 3 will take the wisdom of Solomon and an iron stomach. …Catcher Dioner Navarro received a cortisone shot and reports his hamstring is improving steadily. Maybe Russell Martin's game-winning double Saturday gave him a healthy boost. …Outfielder Jayson Werth reported to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that he is swinging a fungo bat at about 30% but the wrist "bites" when he tries to roll it. There is no doubt he will start the season on the disabled list, follow that with rehab at Las Vegas (or somewhere) and won't be in action until well after the season starts. …Jim Callis, writing in Baseball America, has the Dodgers beating the Angels in the 2009 World Series with Chad Billingsley winning twice and Joel Guzman, Andy LaRoche and Blake DeWitt slugging two homers each during the series.