Manager Grady Little called it the best win of his two-year tenure. "By far," Little said. "Especially when you get a lead early in the game and it gets away. It says a lot about this team and it means a lot to those guys that they can do that."
Jeff Kent delivered some big hits, with a double, home run and four RBIs, and Lowe's sinker was, well, sinking in classic form.
Lowe took a five run lead into the sixth and gave up his first run of the game. The Dodger bullpen has been like money in the bank all season long, never blowing a lead of more than three runs, and with the Cubbies scoring only five total runs in their series in San Diego, half the people in the crowd settled in to watch them mop up and the other half hit the freeway to avoid the crush.
But a not-so-funny thing happened on the way to the Dodgers' 27th win of the season. Joe Beimel, Yhency Brazoban and Jonathan Broxton, three of the four "Bees" in the Dodger bullpen (Billingsley being the other), became imminently hittable.
Eight hits, a walk and an error later, Chicago had seven runs and a 7-5 lead, nine batters having reached base successively. Crafty old Rudy Seanez stopped the bleeding with 1.1 scoreless innings and the offense took over in the bottom of the eighth.
Things looked bleak since the Dodgers had won only two games this season after they trailed after the seventh inning. Broxton's blown save was his second of the year and only the fourth for the staff.
"Tonight the bullpen had a rough time," Little said. "I didn't think we'd go a whole season without something like that happening."
Three Cub relief pitchers struggled in the last of the eighth to hold on to the seemingly comfortable lead but five hits later L.A. had four hits, Takashi Saito (ERA 1.64) had ridden to the rescue and the other half of the crowd left with a smile on their faces.
It was the Dodgers turn to string some hits together and six runs in a row reached base, starting with singles by Russell Martin, Luis Gonzalez and Tony Abreu, loading the bases.
Olmedo Saenz then lined his 40th pinch-hit as a Dodgers, a single, to cut the lead to 8-6. With pinch-hitter Andy LaRoche at bat, wild pitch made it 8-7 and after he walked, Rafael Furcal evened the score -- and extended his hitting streak to 12 games -- with a single, handing center stage to Pierre, who whacked a shot to deep center, bringing pinch-runner Brady Clark home with the winning run.
The Dodgers built their early lead when Kent slugged a two-run homer in the third inning and added a two-run double that chased former Dodgers farmhand Ted Lilly in the fifth.
The two clubs will rub the sleep out of their eyes and go at each other again about noon today with Mark Hendrickson (2-1, 3.22 ERA) opposing Carlos Zambrano (4-4, 5.61).
Score by innings Chicago 000 001 700-8 Los Angeles 102 020 04x-9 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Furcal ss 5 0 1 1 .302 Pierre cf 4 1 2 1 .275 Garciaparra 1b 3 3 1 0 .286 Kent 2b 3 1 2 4 .295 Martin c 3 1 2 1 .321 Gonzalez lf 4 1 1 0 .275 Abreu 3b 4 1 2 0 .286 Saenz ph 1 0 1 1 .231 Clark pr-rf 0 1 0 0 .256 Lowe p 2 0 0 0 .105 Betemit p 0 0 0 0 .188 Brazoban p 0 0 0 0 .000 Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000 Seanez p 0 0 0 0 .000 LaRoche ph 0 0 0 0 .206 Saito p 0 0 0 0 .000 Totals 32 9 12 8 Chicago 38 8 13 7 Error- Kent (9), Abreu (2). 2B- Garciaparra (10), Kent (14), Abreu (1). HR- Kent (8). RBI- Martin (33), Kent 4 (29), Saenz (7), Furcal (14), Pierre (11), SF- Pierre. CS- Pierre (6). LOB- Los Angeles 6, Chicago 7. DP- Furcal, Kent and Garciaparra 2. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Lowe 6.0 4 1-1 3 5 3.64 Beimel 0.1 1 1-1 0 0 4.15 Brazoban 0.0 2 3-3 1 0 27.00 Broxton 0.1 5 3-2 0 0 1.78 Seanez 1.1 1 0-0 0 2 2.70 Saito (sv 15) 1.0 0 0-0 0 1 1.64 T- 3:14. Att- 46,011.Dodger Blue Notes-- A disappointed Brett Tomko said all the right things after his banishment, if that is the word, to the bullpen. "What can I do?" he told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. "All I can do is pitch. I understand the decision. Am I happy about it? Of course not. But I understand the situation -- with Kuo available and the fact that I pitched well out of the bullpen last year and with Chin-hui Tsao down. I get it. What I'm going to do is just pitch as well as I can." Little is leaning toward starting Kuo next Saturday in Pittsburgh, the next time Tomko's spot comes around, but that depends on Kuo's start on Monday for Las Vegas. If not Kuo, Little indicated long reliever Chad Billingsley was next in line. ...The simulated game Jason Schmidt was expected to throw today was put off a few days when the right-hander came down with the flu. ...Infielder Wilson Valdez cleared waivers and will remain in the organization after being outrighted to Las Vegas. Valdez was designated for assignment on May 15 to make room for the promotion of Kuo. ...Tony Abreu started at third base. For Saturday's day game, Abreu is expected to start at second base while Jeff Kent rests, and Wilson Betemit is set to man third. On Sunday, Little is considering experimenting with Andy LaRoche in right field. LaRoche played some outfield at Las Vegas this year. ...Doing his very best to get people to forget about Eric Gagne, Takashi Saito has converted 38 of his first 40 career save chances, which, according to STATS, LLC, ties him with Gagne for the best percentage in the first 40 opportunities since the save became an official statistic in 1969. Saito pitched a scoreless ninth last night to lower his ERA to 1.64. Saito has converted his last 25 save opportunities dating back to 2006, the third-longest active streak in the Majors, trailing Atlanta's Mike Gonzalez and New York's Billy Wagner, who each have 29 straight saves. ...Lowe became the fourth active pitcher with 200 starts and 200 relief appearances, joining Atlanta's John Smoltz, Detroit's Kenny Rogers and Philadelphia's Tom Gordon. ...Rehab: Marlon Anderson, who underwent elbow surgery May 10, is already throwing fairly aggressively. He is expected to miss two months. Lowe is also one of just seven pitchers since the save became an official stat in 1969 to register 100 wins and 85 saves, joining Gordon, Smoltz, Eckersley, Ron Reed, Goose Gossage, Bob Stanley and Rollie Fingers. ...The Dodgers are 9-4 against left-handed starters this season compared to 17 homers against righties. ...The Dodgers are 10-4 in one-run games and 22-0 when they lead after seven innings.