Lowe Handles Nats With Ease

Derek Lowe (5-5), hopefully slipping into his second-half mode, didn't have his best command but that would be hard to sell to the Nationals after he allowed them only three hits over seven innings and Los Angeles ran their record in the nation' capital to 2-0 over 18 innings, allowing nine hits and outscoring the hosts 15-0.

It was the third consecutive game the Dodger starter didn't allow a run as Randy Wolf, Brad Penny and Lowe have surrendered only 12 hits in 19.1 innings resulting in three winning efforts. The trio has recorded a 4-0 record over their last two starts and have allowed three runs in 39.1 innings.

By his own admission he had trouble getting into sync early in the game and although Washington didn't hit him much or score at all, he burned up a hat-full of pitches attempting to find his way back.

My line score looked good, but it didn't tell the story," Lowe said after the game. "I was behind in the count early, and you're not going to win many games like that. In the third, fourth and fifth innings, I don't think I threw three breaking balls for strikes."

" But when the motor started to smooth out, when his breaking ball started the "falling off the table" mode, it was just a case of how many innings Manager Grady Little would let him go. He picked up 11 ground ball outs and retired 13 of the final 15 he faced, allowing them one hit. The hit, incidentally, came via a very charitable scoring call, the obvious error bouncing out of Tony Abreu's glove, off his chest and into his hands before he made a late throw to first.

After his usual early-season shakedown, he seemingly has all the belts and pulleys in working order. Last season he was 7-5, 3.88 before the All-Star break and 11-5, 3.63 after. Lowe has crafted a 2.16 ERA in six May starts, winning in four of them. And oddly enough, he's lost the two complete games he's pitched.

Lowe's record is very deceptive. In his five losses, the Dodgers have scored only seven runs and in his five wins, he's allowed only six earned runs. He has eight quality starts in 12 outings and his ERA is down to 3.32. He's allowed only two home runs compared to 14 last year.

The offense also seemed to take a while, finally getting on the board with a little help from the Washington infield.

An error and doubles by Luis Gonzalez and Andre Ethier, plus Rafael Furcal's single, made it 2-0 in the fifth. The hit boosted Furcal to a career-tying 15 straight games.

A two-run home run to dead center by Russell Martin (#5) to boost the margin to 4-0 and a Lowe walk, a Furcal double and a Nomar Garciaparra single drove in the final run of the game in the seventh.

Joe Beimel allowing the Nationals nothing at all in the eighth and Rudy Seanez gave up a harmless single in the ninth before closing things out.

With the win, the Dodgers will win the series for the first in three tries in JFK Stadium, playing their final game tonight with their new stadium scheduled to be ready in 2008.

The Dodgers jump a remarkable 10 games above .500 for the first time this season but can't shake either Arizona (- 1/2) or San Diego (-1) in the National League West.

Washington can't even retire the Dodger starters. Lowe reached base in all three of his plate appearances on a single and two walks and after Penny's 2-for-2 performance the previous night, they've reached base five straight times. "There's a lot of pressure on Mark tomorrow. Hopefully he can get his first hit of the year," Lowe said, tongue firmly in cheek, of tonight's starter Mark Hendrickson.

Mark Hendrickson (2-2) draws the final start of the series tonight.
 Score by innings
Los Angeles	000 022 100-5
Washington	000 000 000-0

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	5  0  2  1  .309
Pierre cf	4  0  0  0  .281
Garciaparra 1b	4  0  1  0  .289
Kent 2b	        4  1  0  0  .279
Gonzalez lf	4  1  2  0  .286
 Clark lf	0  0  0  0  .234
Martin c	4  1  1  2  .303
Ethier rf	4  1  1  1  .272
Abreu 3b	4  0  0  0  .250
Lowe p	        1  1  1  0  .150
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Betemit ph	1  0  0  0  .184
 Seanez p	0  0  0  0  .000
   Totals	35 5 8 5
   Washington	29 0 4 0

 Error- Furcal (8). 2B- Gonzalez (7), Ethier (9), 
Furcal (11). HR- Martin (4). RBI- Ethier (24),
Furcal (16), Martin 2 (36), Garciaparra (31).
LOB- Los Angeles 5, Washington 4. DP- Kent,
Furcal and Garciaparra.

 Los Angeles 	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Lowe (5-5)	7.0  3  0-0  2  5  3.32
Beimel	        1.0  0  0-0  0  1  3.91
Seanez	        1.0  1  0-0  0  1  2.77
 T- 2:27. Att- 22,360,
Dodger Blue Notes-- Jason Schmidt reporting no pain after throwing 71 pitches in six innings Wednesday against Rancho Cucamonga in the California League. He allowed no runs on two hits while striking seven and walking one. consistently hitting 88 mph on the radar gun. Schmidt walked the first batter of the game and then struck out the side, throwing 18 pitches in the first inning. He settled down after the first, and threw nine pitches in the second, fourth and fifth innings, allowing him to stretch the outing into the sixth inning. "He can pitch at the Major League level with his velocity. If you can change speeds and change locations, you can pitch in the big leagues," said GM Ned Colletti who was on hand to watch the rehab start. ...A Dodger contingent visited the Walter Reed Medical Center for the second consecutive year to meet with several soldiers who were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among those showing their support for our men fighting overseas were Chad Billingsley, Marlon Anderson, Juan Pierre, Andre Ethier, Eddie Murray, Rick Monday, Jaime Jarrín and several others.  Today, representatives from the club will tour the Pentagon on a visit set up by Dodger manager Grady Little and his wife, Debi.

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