The Lowe Ranger Saves the Day

In this day of new age statistics that can tell you the top lefthanded hitter with runners on first base on Wednesday's who parts his hair on the right side, one set of numbers are most telling. Derek Lowe is the pitcher you want when the fat's in the fire and the game's on the line.

In this day of new age statistics that can tell you the top lefthanded hitter with runners on first base on Wednesday's who parts his hair on the right side, one set of numbers are most telling. Derek Lowe is the pitcher you want when the fat's in the fire and the game's on the line. Over his career he has recorded a 52-54, (.490) 4.15 record over the first four months of the season and a 32-20 (.625), 3.20 mark in the final two months, when pennants are won or lost. This season is no different, he was 4-1 with a 1.69 ERA in August, earning the N.L. Pitcher of the Month for his efforts, and has allowed only six earned runs in his last six appearances, five as a starter.

He demonstrated that clutch talent Wednesday night, stopping Milwaukee 2-1 in the first must-win game of the season, keeping the surging Padres, who swept Colorado, from climbing into first place alongside the Dodgers.

Lowe, now 14-8 after winning his fifth straight decision, gave up a double to Geoff Jenkins in the second, a single to Corey Hart in the third and an infield hit to Kevin Mench in the eighth. He allowed only two runners to reach scoring position and the single run scored against him came when outfielder Andre Ethier misplayed a double, permitting the only Brewer run to score.

His sinker was a thing of beauty and 20 of the 24 outs he recorded came on ground balls while using only 79 pitches.

"I was very fortunate that my sinker was working as good as it was, because I had a really hard time with my offspeed pitches." Lowe said after the game. "We had to continue to keep throwing them to make them believe I would throw more than one pitch. But I probably only threw three or four curveballs or changeups for strikes."

The Dodgers scored only five runs in the series, with the most important two coming in the final 21 innings.

Matt Kemp, fresh up from Las Vegas, was the prime mover in the suddenly-impotent Dodger lineup, tagging All-Star left-hander Chris Capuano (11-10) for a leadoff triple in the fifth, scoring the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Rafael Furcal, and an RBI double in the eighth after fellow rookie Russell Martin led off with a two-base hit.

Although Lowe was almost untouchable through eight, Manager Grady Little used Takashi Saito, who hadn't pitched in nearly a week, in the ninth inning.

He saved his 18th game in 20 opportunities, striking out the first two getting Prince Fielder to bounce out to first base to end it. The save moved him past the late Steve Howe and into second place for most saves by a rookie in Dodgers history. Yhency Brazoban set the record of 21 last year and if Saito does not break that mark, it's going to be a long, cold winter.

The Dodgers, who trailed in the NL West by 7 1/2 games on July 26, remained one game ahead of second-place San Diego.

The Dodgers travel to face the New York Mets in the first of a four-game series. The Mets are close to clinching the National League East and the opener will feature veterans Brad Penny (15-7, 3.97) and Tom Glavine (12-6, 4.13).
  Score by innings
Dodgers   000 010 100-2
Milwaukee 001 000 000-1

  Dodgers  ab r h bi ave
Furcal, SS  3 0 1 1  .291
Lugo, 3B    4 0 0 0  .286
Saenz, 1B   2 0 0 0  .288
 Loney, 1B  1 0 0 0  .278
Kent, 2B    4 0 1 0  .274
Ethier, LF  3 0 0 0  .330
Martin, C   4 1 1 0  .289
Kemp, CF    4 1 2 1  .276
Repko, RF   2 0 0 0  .256
Lowe, P     1 0 0 0  .105
 Saito, P   0 0 0 0  .000
  Totals   28 2 5 2
  Brewers  28 1 3 0

  Error- Ethier, Furcal.  2B- Furcal (28), 
Martin (22). 3B- Kemp (1). RBI- Furcal 
(53), Kemp (22).  S- Lowe 2. SF- Furcal. 
LOB- Los Angeles 5, Milwaukee 3. DP- 
(Lowe, Furcal and Saenz).

  Dodgers     in h r-er bb so era
Lowe (14-8)   8.0 3 1-0 1 1 3.64
Saito (sv 18) 1.0 0 0-0 0 2 2.01
  T- 2:-04. Att- 25,106.
Dodger Blue Notes-- The Dodgers are still mulling over who will start Sunday against the Mets. Left-hander Mark Hendrickson is next in the rotation but some feel the nod should go to rookie lefty Eric Stults who got his first taste of big-league competition with a three-inning relief stint Tuesday night against Milwaukee. Lefty Hong-Chih Kuo starting in place of injured Chad Billingsley on Friday night, giving the ball to Stults on Sunday would mean the Dodgers would have two rookie starters in the four-game series with the Mets. Little ruled out Chad Billingsley, whose strained oblique still hasn't healed enough to allow him to throw off a mound. …Slumping first baseman Nomar Garciaparra sat out for the second time in the past four days after going 0-for-7 with two strikeouts in the two games in between. Garciaparra, who was hitting .358 at the All-Star break, is batting just .203 in the second half, with four homers and 22 RBI.

Great Quote-- Jon Weisman, writing on his site "Dodger Thoughts" had this terrific take on the Dodgers-

"In the 1984 Pioneer League Junior Varsity cross-country finals, I made up ground on a hard hill climb, defying expectations, neared the leaders, followed most of them in missing a turn and going off course, retraced my steps and ran my lungs out to hold on to a respectable finish.

"That's your 2006 Los Angeles Dodgers -- pride and joy on the line, arms flailing, dashingly ill-prepared, a hint of talent here and inadequacy there, a surefire winner on Everybody Gets a Trophy Day, and potentially an actual champion of the lesser gods if the finish line would just show up at the right time."

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