Dodgers Ride Lowe and Snap Slide

The Dodgers broke out of their scoring slump -- perhaps it should be SLUMP -- with five runs in the fifth inning after scoring but three runs in their last 49 innings. The catalyst of the resurgence was Derek Lowe, who not only worked 5.2 strong innings, his double kicked off the big inning.

"I as happy with my game," he said. "and the wind was blowing in, that helped. I also got some extra work in the bullpen to get my pitch count up to 85.

"I feel good about going into the season. Pitching on the road is a good thing because you get to face more of the regulars."

He said that breaking the losing streak made everyone feel better but the important thing is to stay healthy. "No one wanted to keep losing by a big score."

Lowe has drawn the opening day start at Milwaukee and he will pitch just two innings on his next appearance "just to stay sharp."

Lowe was overpowering after the first two batters banged two base hits. A ground ball drove in the second run and it looked like a long afternoon.

But after the second double, Lowe retired 14 straight 17 of 18 with a walk mixed in. He left the game after 68 pitches -- 45 of them strikes -- to allow lefty Joe Beimel to make a situational appearance.

Lowe then went down to the bullpen and threw additional pitches to stretch his pitch count out.

Trailing 2-0, Lowe doubled over the center fielder's head to open the fifth and later scored the Dodgers' first run on a sac fly by Juan Pierre to cut the Marlins lead in half.

The Wilson boys tied the game when Betemit singled across Valdez with a second run and Larry Bigbie's ground-rule double (and his team-leading 13th RBI) gave the Dodgers their first lead since St. Patrick's Day 3-2.

An infield RBI single by Ramon Martinez and a throwing error on the play ran the inning total to five runs.

Manager Grady Little then rolled out four relief pitchers who allowed only one baserunner -- on an error. So the Marlins pt just four on base; two doubles, a walk and a base on a throwing error. Joe Beimel, Takashi Saito, Jon Broxton and Chad Billingsley (no save) throttled Florida. The five L.A. pitchers retired 27 of the final 29 they faced.

Betemit had his best day of the spring, collecting a double, an RBI single and a walk in four trips to the plate. Valdez singled twice and walked and in addition added a pair of stolen bases as if to say, "Grady, I can take over until Rafael Furcal returns."

Matt Kemp slugged a long home run in the ninth inning directly into a strong wind blowing in toward the plate.

The Dodgers travel to Fort Lauderdale today (Saturday) to meet the Orioles with Randy Wolf making the start.
 Score by innings
Dodgers	000 050 001-6
Florida	200 000 000-2

 Dodgers	        ab  r  h  bi  ave
Wilson Valdez ss	2  1  2  0  .382  
 Chin-Lung Hu ss	1  0  0  0  .312
Juan Pierre cf	        2  0  1  1  .385
 Sergio Garcia 2b	1  0  0  0  .500
Nomar Garciaparra 1b	3  0  0  0  .263		
  Xavier Paul of	1  0  0  0  .167
Luis Gonzalez lf	2  1  0  0  .321
 Matt Kemp lf	        2  1  1  1  .222
Wilson Betemit 3b	3  1  2  1  .227
 Mitch Jones 3b	        1  0  1  0  .167
Larry Bigbie rf	        4  1  2  0  .383
 Sandy Martinez c	1  0  0  0  .056
Ramon Martinez 2b	3  0  2  1  .261
 James Loney 1b	        2  0  1  0  .435
Kelly Stinett c	        3  0  0  0  .192
 Marlon Anderson ph	1  0  0  0  .000
 Takashi Saito p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Jon Broxton p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 M. McDougall ph	1  0  0  0  .286
 Chad Billingsley p	0  0  0  0  .000
Derek Lowe p	        3  1  1  0  .333
 Joe Beimel p	        0  0  0  0  .000  
 Andy LaRoche	        1  0  0  0  .186	
    Totals	       37  6  13  5
    Florida 	       30  2   2  2   

 Error- Hu (2). 2-base hits- Betemit (3), 
Lowe (1), Bigbie (3), Pierre (2). RBI- Pierre 
(7), Betemit (3), Bigbie (13), R.Martinez (4), 
Kemp (3). LOB- Dodgers 11, Marlins 2. S- 
Pierre. SF- Pierre. SB- Valdez 2 (2).

 Dodgers	in   h r-er bb so  era
Lowe	        5.2  2  2-2  1  3  2.70
Beimel	        0.1  0  0-0  0  0  3.68
Saito	        1.0  0  0-0  0  1  1.50
Broxton	        1.0  0  0-0  1  0 11.57
Billingsley	1.0  0  0-0  0  2  0.87	
 HBP- Garciaparra. T-2:26.  Att- 4,436.

From Your Computer ...-- Sports Illustrated predicts that the Dodgers will win the N.L. West title (with the Mets and Cardinals winning the East and Central). Los Angeles will beat the Braves in the Division Series, the Mets in the National League Championship Series but lose to the Angels in the World Series.

Et Tu Kuo?-- Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reported that if left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo pitched Wednesday night like he's hurt, he is hurt. Kuo said he had "a little soreness in the back of the shoulder" and was scheduled to have an examination that would likely include an MRI. Kuo said he also didn't feel right in his previous start five days earlier against Boston, when he allowed three home runs in a game that was rained out after 2 1/3 innings. Kuo came into Spring Training the apparent preferred choice in the fifth-starter competition because he is a rare hard-throwing left-hander who is effective against right-handed hitters. But he hasn't looked anything close to the Kuo that won a roster spot last spring, when in 12 innings, he allowed one run, struck out 14 and walked only one.

Rebirth for Jackson?-- The Tampa Tribune reports ex-Dodger Edwin Jackson has been in contention to be in the 2007 Tampa Bay starting rotation. Jackson has an 1.80 earned run average over 10 innings. Jackson, 23, had a 5.45 ERA in 22 relief appearances and one start with Tampa Bay last season, striking out 27 batters in 36.1 innings against 25 walks and two home runs.

Dodger Blue Notes --Outfielder Andre Ethier, who was hitting .400+ on March 11, has taken an 0-for-17 and his average has slid to .300. …Former Dodger reliever Matt Herges has made a late spring surge to [hopefully] capture a spot on the Colorado staff. Herges hit 92 miles per hour, a spring best, and showed late movement on his fastball. "He's been a surprise," pitching coach Bob Apodaca said. …Utility men Marlon Anderson and Ramon Martinez, who are probably penciled in on the roster, led off every inning in a Minor League game while the team took on Baltimore in Holman Stadium. …Players union chief Donald Fehr is scheduled to make his annual visit to speak to Dodgers players Saturday. …The Devil Rays sent 1B Hee-Seop Choi to the minors. …Major League Baseball, keeping the world safe from anything that does not earn revenue, have instructed Craig Biggio he cannot wear a pin on his cap that bears the logo of a foundation that helps children with cancer. The Associated Press contacted MLB but they declined to comment on the matter. Well, I should certainly think so.

Quote of the Day-- "The minor league system is as good as any in baseball and if you need proof of that, just check out how many rookies were on their roster last season during the playoffs. The foundation of a great run has been laid. So just sit back and watch over the next few seasons as the players continue coming up through the pipeline to help make Los Angeles one of the most talked-about franchises in the game" --De Jon Watson, Director/Player Development.

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