Lowe-Down Bad Luck -- Again

The Dodgers had a number of chances to win their sixth in a row in a rare afternoon game in Los Angles, but things that had worked out so well over the previous five winning contests just didn't click in the bright sunshine. Runners were left in scoring position, they wasted yet another great effort by starter Derek Lowe and a costly two-run error in the seventh ultimately sunk the ship.

Lowe (1-2) did his thing again, sparkling pitching - no run support. He worked six innings and, while he allowed all four Astro runs, only two of them were earned, lowering his ERA to 2.98.

Lowe allowed six hits but only two of them from the second inning through the fifth, retiring 11 in a row at one point. Both Takashi Saito and Jonathan Broxton worked perfect innings but nothing came of it.

The Los Angeles attack was pretty well smothered after the first inning when Rafael Furcal walked and was then doubled up in a strike-out, throw-out D.P. Nomar Garciaparra's added a double but was left at second.

Jose Cruz collected a two-out single in the second but those were the only Dodger hits until Furcal led off the sixth with a shot that skidded past the right fielder for a triple.

However, Lofton, Garciaparra and Drew all went quietly and left him standing on the bag as third.

Houston scored in the first on three straight singles and added another in the sixth on a walk and two singles.

But the seventh was the inning that was the most painful. After a leadoff double, a one-out grounder to Furcal saw the runner break for third. The runner was caught in a rundown but the ball was knocked out of Mueller's hands and both runners were safe. With two out, Furcal threw a ball away that allowed both runner to cross the plate and gave Houston a 4-0 lead.

Lowe left the game having faced 30 batters in seven innings and had reached the 93-pitch mark.

Jeff Kent banged a shot into the left-field seats to open the seventh and the Dodgers were finally on board. Garciaparra had a two-out single in the eighth but in the ninth, Los Angeles put on another rally. Again picking on All-Star closer Brad Lidge.

With one out, Mueller and Cruz walked. Andre their punch-hit for Russell Martin and struck out. Then Willy Aybar, hitting for Broxton, lined a shot to right field, driving in Mueller. Furcal walked to load the bases but Lofton flew harmlessly to right to end the game.

The Dodgers open a three-game series Friday night in San Francisco, with Brad Penny (2-1, 2.98 ERA) drawing the start for the Dodgers.
  Score by innings
Houston  010 001 200-4
Dodgers  000 000 101-2

  Dodgers      ab r h bi ave
Furcal, SS      3 0 1 0 .222
Lofton, CF      5 0 0 0 .279
Garciaparra, 1B 3 0 2 0 .333
Drew, RF        4 0 0 0 .294
Kent, 2B        4 1 1 1 .222
Mueller, 3B     3 1 0 0 .252
Cruz, LF        3 0 1 0 .263
Martin, C       1 0 0 0 .294
  Ethier, PH    1 0 0 0 .263
Lowe, P         2 0 0 0 .000
  Saenz, PH     1 0 0 0 .333
  Saito, P      0 0 0 0 .000
  Broxton, P    0 0 0 0 .000
  Aybar, PH     1 0 1 1 .500
    Totals     31 2 6 2 
    Houston    35 4 6 2 

  Error- Mueller 2.  2B hits- 
Garciaparra (8). 3B- Furcal (1).
HR- Kent (4). RBI- Kent (22), 
Aybar (1). LOB- Houston 5, Los 
Angeles 9. CS- Furcal (3).

  Dodgers      in h r-er bb so era
Lowe (L, 1-2) 7.0 6  4-2  1 0 2.98
Saito         1.0 0  0-0  0 2 3.06
Broxton       1.0 0  0-0  0 1 1.50
  T- 2:44. Att- 37,133.
Raising Arizona-- The Los Angeles Times reported that the Dodgers appear to be focused on sharing a proposed complex with the Chicago White Sox in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale but neither has continued negotiations and have admitted that the club is farther along with Glendale.

Glendale is also the home of the Arizona Cardinals and Phoenix Coyotes, and a new complex there could open in 2008 or 2009.

In 2001, the Dodgers signed a 20-year lease to continue training in Vero Beach, Fla. The Dodgers would owe about $15 million if they broke the lease, the Indian River County administrator told The Times.

Glendale is expected to submit a proposal for state funding in the next month or so but neither the city nor the teams would confirm which teams were involved, but two sources familiar with the Glendale discussions told the L.A. Times it would be the Dodgers and White Sox.

The Dodgers have reported no timetable for deciding whether to stay in Florida or move to Arizona, spokeswoman Camille Johnston said. "We're still in the listening phase," she said.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Closer Eric Gagne threw off a mound May 10 for the first time since his April 7 surgery to remove a sensory nerve in his right elbow. Gagne threw 21 pitches, and Manager Grady Little described his fastball as "alive." Gagne felt so good he threw again later in the outfield and pronounced himself completely recovered. However he will continue his throwing program on an alternating schedule for several days. If there are no setbacks, Gagne is tentatively scheduled to throw to hitters in a batting practice session some time next week then begin a minor-league injury-rehabilitation assignment possibly by May 20 with the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s. …New York Met General Manager Omar Minaya said he had little interest in acquiring left-hander Odalis Perez because of the $21 million Perez is owed this year and next. The Mets could be in the market for a starter because Victor Zambrano is out for the season. …Rawlings' new Coolflo batting helmets will not be getting endorsements from Kent. The Dodgers and Angels, as well as a number of other teams, have adopted the new helmets with a lighter design (including air vents) this season. But Jeff Kent ditched the new helmet and went back to the older model after being hit in the head by a pitch on April 16. "I just didn't think the new helmets protected you as much," Kent told the Orange County Register. "I don't know if it's because they're lighter or less dense. I just know I've been hit in the head before and when this one happened it hurt a lot more. Plus, I'm not big on change." …A memorial service was held Wednesday for former Dodgers Rookie of the Year Steve Howe, who was killed in an auto accident last month. Eulogies were delivered by former teammates Rick Monday, Ken Landreaux and Lee Guetterman. Howe's daughter, Chelsea, performed a song she wrote, and a 20-minute tribute video was aired. Among those attending was former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley. Another former Dodger, John Werhas, officiated. …Russell Martin's first endorsement deal could be for designer nail polish, MLB.com reported. In order for pitchers to better see the signs he flashes for pitches, Martin paints his fingernails and fingertips with white Liquid Paper. "Only for night games," he said. "I've used tape, but the Liquid Paper is easier for the pitchers to see." ... Jose Cruz Jr. went 1-for-3 for the Dodgers. The son of the Astros' first-base coach is 14-for-39 with seven RBI when his father is in the other dugout. …Quote For the Day-- "I completed college in three years. I was in the top 10 percent of my class in law school. I'm a Doctor of Jurisprudence. I am an honorary Doctor of Law. Tell me why I spent four mortal hours today conversing with a person named Dizzy Dean." -- Branch Rickey.