Nomar, Lowe Keep Dodger Streak Intact

The Dodgers and their fans are enjoying the best winnings streak in the club's history in Los Angeles, earning their 16th win in 17 games by overcoming Florida ace Dontrelle Willis 4-2 after behind shut out over the first five innings on two hits. And with both San Diego and Arizona losing, Los Angeles has put a bit of distance between themselves and the rest of the National League West.

Nomar Garciaparra's three RBI, including a home run, and another solid start by Derek Lowe, in which he won his 10th game of the season, boosted them over the Marlins in front of 44,749 at Dodger Stadium.

Garciaparra hit a two-run home run in the sixth, his first homer since July 13, to erase a 1-0 deficit, and added an RBI single in the seventh. J.D. Drew also singled across a run for a 4-1 Dodgers lead.

The sudden 16-1 surge since July 26 is the best 17-game stretch in L.A. Dodgers history and the best in franchise history going back to the "Boys of Summer" and Brooklyn's August 1953.

That powerhouse won 10 straight in late May, then went 48-14 in July and August, including 13 straight from August 7-20 and a streak of 16-1.

The other L.A. teams that went 15-1 went to the World Series, in 1965 and 1977, as did the 1953 Brooklyn team.

Entering the game, Los Angeles pitchers had posted a 2.42 ERA over the last 16 games, and its starters had lasted at least six innings in 14 of those contests. Lowe, who has been the only losing pitcher since the streak started, lowered the earned run average a bit more.

Lowe (10-8), who pitched well but lost 3-1 to Colorado in his previous start, gave up only one run on four hits in seven innings. He walked two and struck out two with his sinker accounting for 17 groundball outs.

The Dodgers made three errors, and reliever Giovanni Carrara gave up a solo home run to Miguel Olivo in the ninth but pitched the final two innings and earned his first save since 2004.

"I just really enjoy this time of year," Lowe said. "That doesn't guarantee success, but this is why you play the game. I'm the only one who has lost in his streak and I didn't want to get the second one, too."

Willis (7-10), who slugged an RBI triple in the third inning, smothered the Dodger lineup through the first five innings but left after giving up a pair of runs in the seventh.

Julio Lugo singled with one out in the first, and after Russell Martin's two-out infield single in the second the Dodgers didn't have another baserunner until the sixth.

Then, with one out in the sixth, Lugo reached on an infield single when shortstop Hanley Ramirez couldn't get off a throw, and Garciaparra hit Willis' first pitch into the seats in left-center for a 2-1 Dodgers lead.

Rafael Furcal walked with one out in the seventh and Lugo followed with his third hit of the night. With two on, Garciaparra singled to right to make the score 3-1. One out later, J.D. Drew singled to drive in Drew to close the Dodger scoring.

Giovanni Carrara worked two innings but gave the Dodger crowd a bit of a fright in the ninth. After a home run by Olivo, Amezaga singled and reached second on a throwing error by third baseman Lugo, but Carrara stranded him there.

The Dodgers face the Marlins tonight in Game 2 of the three-game series at Dodger Stadium. Chad Billingsley (3-3, 3.52 ERA) and fellow rookie Anibal Sanchez (4-2, 4.13 ERA) are slated to start.
  Score by innings
Florida      001 000 001-2
Los Angeles 000 002 20x-4

  Dodgers      ab r h bi ave
Furcal, SS      3 1 0 0 .287
Lugo, LF-3B     5 2 3 0 .301
Garciaparra, 1B 4 1 2 3 .331
Kent, 2B        3 0 0 0 .260
Drew, RF        2 0 1 1 .278
Betemit, 3B     4 0 0 0 .278
 Carrara, P     0 0 0 0 .000
Martin, C       2 0 1 0 .300
Repko, CF       2 0 0 0 .255
 Saenz, PH      1 0 0 0 .302
 Lofton, CF     1 0 1 0 .313
Lowe, P         2 0 0 0 .062
 Martinez, PH   1 0 0 0 .296
 Ethier, LF     1 0 0 0 .344
    Totals     31 4 8 4
    Florida    34 2 7 2

  Errors- Furcal, Betemit, Lugo. 
HR- Garciaparra (13). RBI- 
Garciaparra 3 (62), Drew (65). 
LOB- Los Angeles 10, Florida 7. 
SB- Lofton (21). DP- 2 (Furcal, 
Kent and Garciaparra; Kent, 
Furcal and Garciaparra).

  Dodgers     in h r-er bb so era
Lowe (10-8)    7.0 4 1-1 2 2 3.97
Carrara (sv 1) 2.0 3 1-1 0 3 2.95
  T- 2:35. Att- 44,749.
Quote of the Day-- "Coming in here and seeing 50,000 people in the stands, your mind-set is totally different. It's like MasterCard -- priceless." --Julio Lugo, an everyday shortstop in Tampa Bay and a reluctant utilityman in L.A.

Attendance Records Breaking-- With 3.5 million tickets sold, the Dodgers are on course to set the club attendance record this season and with a more favorable home schedule next year, could reach the 4,000.000 fans Jamie McCourt thought possible just a couple years ago. The Dodgers are on pace to sell 3.7 million this season. The Dodgers expect better attendance next year because the 2007 schedule tentatively includes a visit from the Boston Red Sox and a weekend visit from the Chicago Cubs.

Another Operation-- Outfielder Jayson Werth, who hasn't played all season because of continued problems with his surgically repaired left wrist, underwent another operation on at the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis. Dodgers trainer Stan Johnston said Werth will be in a cast for the next six weeks, after which he will begin rehab and should be 100 percent for spring training. Werth didn't play a game this season. He initially had surgery on this wrist Nov. 17.

History Made Here-- The Sunday night game with the Giants on ESPN was the first-ever meeting between a 300-game winner and a 700-homer hitter, with Greg Maddux holding Barry Bonds hitless in three at-bats. "It's always a privilege to face one of the greatest players ever, whether he's going good or bad," Maddux said. "He's one of the best to ever play the game. I know Barry is the best in the last 20 years. There isn't even anybody second."

Maddux's three Dodger starts (a win in Cincinnati and no decisions in the other two):
                     in   h  r-er bb so pch era
Aug.  3  3-0 Reds    6.0  0  0-0  3  3  72    
Aug.  8  4-2 Rockies 6.0  7  2-2  1  2  81    
Aug. 13  1-0 Giants  8.0  2  0-0  0  4  68  
  Totals            20.0  9  2-2  4  9 131  0.90
Quote of the Day II-- "I'll tell you, that's some kind of job Rick Honeycutt did with him. He turned Maddux career around in three starts." --Grady Little with tongue firmly in cheek, speaking of the Dodgers pitching coach.

Dodger Blue Note-- Former Dodger infielder Willy Aybar is headed for the Atlanta disabled list with a broken hand, according to The Associated Press. Aybar reportedly hurt the hand in his first game with the Braves and tried to play through it. …Former Dodger minor league pitcher Andrew Brown was called up by the Cleveland Indians. …Andre Ethier's hitting streak ended at 16 games, four behind Tommy Davis' club record of 20 set in 1960, and manager Grady Little gave him the day off after 40 straight starts. The left fielder leads all rookies in batting average with a .345 mark. …Reliever Elmer Dessens is eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday. He will pitch in a Triple-A Las Vegas game on Wednesday and will join the team in San Francisco on Friday. Dessens (sprained left ankle) will toss one or two innings for the 51s in his rehab appearance. …Brett Tomko, who has adapted well as a reliever, said his fastball ranged from 91 to 94 miles per hour as a starter and now has improved to between 94 and 97. Eric Gagne had a similar boost in velocity when he moved to the bullpen and like Gagne, Tomko said the edge is primarily mental.