A Shutout is in the Eyes of the Beholder

Derek Lowe, who hasn't lost since August 9 and is 6-0 over his last nine appearances, working seven shutout innings to stop Arizona 2-0 but was less than satisfied with his work. "It was beyond a struggle, a game that I had to try to figure out how to get through it," he said after keeping the Dodgers a half-game behind San Diego and a half-game ahead of Philadelphia.

Lowe (15-8, 3.57 ERA), who is 6-0 with a 1.95 ERA in his last eight appearances, scattered five hits, walked three and struck out three. However, he was so upset with iscommand that he went into the clubhouse between innings to view video.

Reliever Takashi Saito replaced Joe Beimel with two outs and runners on second and third in the eighth and caught Eric Byrnes looking at a fastball for a called third strike. Saito also pitched the ninth to record his 21st save in 23 chances, tying Yhency Brazoban's club rookie record for saves.

Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin was hard-pressed to see that Lowe was having an off night, as were 43,990 others watching at Dodger Stadium.

"He kept us off-balance enough with his breaking ball and a couple of changeups, but he's got a sinker going that starts out at the knees and goes to the bottom of the knee and below," Melvin said.

J.D. Drew, who is quietly haveing a very effective season, broke a scoreless tie with a leadoff homer in the seventh. Russell Martin and Marlon Anderson hit consecutive doubles two outs later to make it 2-0 to start and end the scoring for each team.

Drew's homer was his team-high 19th, and his 92 runs batted in are one shy of his career best. He lined the tie-breaking shot off Claudio Vargas into the pavilion seats in right-center on a 0-1 pitch. That made him 8-for-23 (.348) lifetime against the right-hander with five homers and 10 RBI.

Two outs later, Martin doubled and the ubiquitous Anderson doubled him home while pinch-hitting for Lowe.

Claudio Vargas (11-10) allowed two runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings. He walked one and struck out two.

The Diamondbacks threatened in the first when Craig Counsell drew a leadoff walk and Orlando Hudson followed with an infield single. But Lowe got Luis Gonzalez to ground into a force play at second and got Eric Byrnes on a double play ball. Arizona also had two on in the fifth, but Counsell grounded to first for the third out.

In the eighth, Orlando Hudson's one-out double put runners on second and third, but Joe Beimel got Luis Gonzalez to foul out before Takashi Saito took over and struck out Eric Byrnes.

Martin said Saito pitched Byrnes backward, setting him up with sliders low and away, then came down the middle with a fastball that froze him for strike three.

Saito pitched the ninth for his 21st save and his first multi-inning save since Aug. 2. Little called on Saito earlier than usual because Jonathan Broxton had worked four of the past five games.

Saito, who was signed to a Minor League contract by Logan White after watching films of him pitch, has been more than a lifesaver for the Dodgers this season.

"He's been a godsend," said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, who saw Saito move into the closers job when Eric Gagne and Yhency Brazoban went out with injuries in April. "Our whole 'pen got turned upside down, and we didn't know which way to turn. But this is what happens sometimes. They figure it out themselves."

After starting the season in the minor leagues, Saito didn't earn his first Major League save until May 15.

Honeycutt repeated again that Saito reminds him of a former Oakland A's teammate, a pretty good closer named Dennis Eckersley. Saito has a 2.18 ERA, a .175 opponents' batting average, and 99 strikeouts and 23 walks in 74.1 innings.
  Score by innings                                                              
Arizona     000 000 000-0
Los Angeles 000 000 20x-2
 
  Dodgers      ab r h bi ave
Furcal, SS      3 0 1 0 .299
Lofton, CF      4 0 1 0 .298
Garciaparra, 1B 4 0 2 0 .301
Kent, 2B        3 0 0 0 .287
Drew, RF        3 1 1 1 .278
Betemit, 3B     4 0 1 0 .264
Ethier, LF      3 0 0 0 .312
Martin, C       3 1 1 0 .285
Lowe, P         2 0 0 0 .097
 Anderson, PH   1 0 1 1 .294
 Beimel, P      0 0 0 0 .000
 Saito, P       0 0 0 0 .000
    Totals     30 2 8 2
    DBacks     31 0 8 0

  2B- Martin (24), Anderson (15). HR- 
Drew (19). RBI- Drew (92), Anderson (35). 
LOB- Los Angeles 7, Arizona 7. DP- 3 
(Furcal and Garciaparra; Garciaparra, 
Furcal and Garciaparra; Kent, Furcal 
and Garciaparra).
 
  Dodgers     in h r-er bb so era
Lowe (15-8)   7.0 5 0-0 3 3 3.57
Beimel        0.2 2 0-0 0 1 2.94
Saito (sv 21) 1.1 1 0-0 0 1 2.18
  T- 2:33. Att- 43,990.
Dodger Blue Notes-- The Diamondbacks are out of the race but will be an important factor in the final outcome. Besides their three-game series in Los Angeles, they have four games remaining with San Diego and three against San Francisco. ... Dodgers Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, a vice-president and special adviser with the club, turned 79 on Friday. Bobby Valentine, who played under Lasorda, had 79 fruit baskets delivered to Lasorda's home, with personal messages on each from his former players. Lasorda is donating the baskets to a children's hospital. … The Dodgers haven't announced the rotation for the final week of the season, three in Colorado and three in San Francisco, but Chad Billingsley or Hong-Chih Kuo will not be in it. Only one of them will start but manager Grady Little has not said which one. …Rookie Andre Ethier is 2-for-29 with one RBI and has started only seven games in September. …Joe Beimel has allowed one run in 11 innings in September. …Brad Penny (16-8, 4.13) will face Arizona's Miguel Batista (10-7, 4.40) tonight in the second game of the final three-game home series.

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