Dodgers Needed a Derek To Win Second Straight

Derek Lowe, injured hip and all, dominated the Astros, working seven innings to earn his ninth win against 11 losses and give the Dodgers a split, after the free-fall that dropped them into fourth place in the National League West. Before 48,128 at Dodger Stadium he earned his first win since June 22 and the Dodgers won their second straight game after losing 18 of their previous 24.

It was Lowe's first scoreless start since May 30 when he allowed Washington three hits over seven innings, and his longest outing since June 15 in a losing cause against the Angels.

Following Brad Penny's 3-1 victory in the third game of the series, Lowe gave the Dodgers back-to-back wins by starters for the first time in 16 games.

Lowe faced 22 Astros, one over the minimum in seven clutch, shutout innings, picking up 17 of his 21 outs on groundballs. He induced three groundball double plays and got out of another inning with a strikeout-caught stealing double play. He didn't issue a base on balls while throwing an economical 84 pitches.

Lowe had been winless in eight starts since June 22 until last night, when he felt no pain and allowed no runs. He reported himself 100 percent comfortable after he suffered an injury warming up for a July 22 relief appearance. He spent lengthy sessions alone throwing bullpens without a ball-- practicing only the motion of throwing off the mound.

As good as the performance was, it didn't allow the Dodgers (62-59) to move up in either the National League West or wild-card standings and they remained 6 1/2 behind San Diego for the consolation prize.

It was a rare game in which Lowe didn't have to worry about run support. Kent doubled in Juan Pierre and a limping Matt Kemp, who ran through a stop sign at third base, to give the club a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

Kent doubled again to lead off the fourth and scored on an error. Kemp's sacrifice fly in the fifth scored Rafael Furcal with the fourth run, and Furcal singled in two runs in the sixth.

Kent has 530 career doubles, 28th on the all-time list, passing Hall of Famers Cap Anson and Frank Robinson, who each hit 528, and Al Oliver, who hit 529, and Roberto Hernandez also reached a milestone by becoming only the 12th Major Leaguer to appear in 1,000 games.

Houston rallied for two runs in the ninth inning off of Hernandez before Takashi Saito came on to record the final two outs for his 31st save.

Kemp is limping as a result of crashing into the right-field fence chasing Carlos Lee's double Wednesday night. Kemp said the knee is still swollen, but he did not expect it to keep him out of the lineup.

Kemp, in and out of the lineup since being recalled from Las Vegas on June 12, batted third for the third straight game and went 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly, making him 5-for-11 with three RBIs in the three games.

The Dodgers announced the promotion of left-hander Eric Stults to start tonight's opener against Colorado's Josh Fogg (7-7, 4.64 ERA). Stults is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in four games (one start) with the Dodgers and was 5-7 with a 7.56 ERA at Las Vegas. The club will top the 3 million mark after ringing up 2,984,930 after the final Houston game.
 Score by innings
Houston	        000 000 002-2
Los Angeles	200 112 00x-6

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	7  1  2  2  .277
Pierre cf	4  1  1  0  .288
Kemp rf	        3  1  1  1  .321
Kent 2b	        3  1  3  2  .291
 Martinez pr-3b	0  0  0  0  .170
Loney 1b	4  0  0  0  .311
Martin c	3  1  0  0  .289
Ethier lf	4  0  0  0  .296
Hillenbrand 3b	4  1  1  0  .248
Lowe p	        2  0  0  0  .140
 Seanez p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Saenz ph	1  0  0  0  .187
 Hernandez p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Saito p	0  0  0  0  .000
   Totals	32 6 8 5
   Houston	32 2 6 2

 Error- Martinez (2). 2B- Kent 3 (29). RBI- Kent 2 (63),
Kemp (26), Furcal (41). S- Lowe. SF- Kemp. LOB- Los
Angeles 6, Houston 5. SB- Pierre (49). DP- Martin and
Furcal; Furcal, Kent and Loney; Furcal and Loney;
Hillenbran, Kent and Loney.

 Los Angeles	 in  h  r-er bb so  era
Lowe (9-11)	7.0  5  0-0  0  0  3.45
Seanez	        1.0  0  0-0  2  0  3.68
Hernandez	0.1  1  2-2  2  0  5.84
Saito (sv 31)	0.2  0  0-0  0  1  1.52
 T- 2:44. att- 48,128,
No Trade/Waiver Action-- Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti told Tony Jackson of the Los Angeles Daily News that it is unlikely the team will be able to pick up a player before Aug. 31, the last day for teams to trade for players and have them eligible for the postseason.

?"We're trying to find that piece," Colletti said. "If it presents itself, we'll do it. But the list of players who have cleared waivers doesn't present us with a lot of opportunities or intrigue."

?Before a player can be traded after the non-waiver deadline, which was July 31, that player must clear waivers. Most of the players who are claimed are pulled off waivers by their present clubs, precluding them from being traded the rest of this season.

?"So many guys get claimed now," Colletti said. "The only players who don't get claimed are players you suspect are breaking down and you're seeing the results, or there is a lot of contract to go, two or three years, and they have underachieved this year. So yeah, you can roll the dice on that type of player, but I'm not sure that does you any good."

?Colletti told Jackson the Dodgers have put in at least 40 waivers claims on other clubs' players this month, about half of which were on players the Dodgers actually were interested in and half of which were on players they wanted to block from going to other clubs.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Randy Wolf's future with the Dodgers is tenuous at best. After turning down multi-year deals elsewhere to sign a one-year contract with his hometown Dodgers, it looked like a sure thing his option would be picked up for 2008. Now the club must weigh whether to risk picking up that $9 million option or buying him out for $500,000. The option would have vested if Wolf had pitched 180 innings, however he has 102.2. ...Colletti said the organization hasn't changed its opinion of infield prospect Tony Abreu, even after he missed three weeks with symptoms of a sports hernia. There were indications the club was frustrated by the time it took Abreu to return to the field, which he did earlier this week. Abreu is considered the heir-apparent to second baseman Jeff Kent. ...Astro's second baseman Craig Biggio, who will retire after this season, was honored before his final game at Dodger Stadium. Participating in the ceremony were former Astros teammates Luis Gonzalez and Jeff Kent. Biggio, who sat out the first three games of the four-game series, went 2-for-4 and received a standing ovation after popping out to the catcher in the ninth.

Rumors-- The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Jose Contreras was showcased in his start tonight, with the White Sox hoping a club will take him and the $20 million they owe Contreras through 2009 off their hands. The Dodgers were reportedly taking a look at him.

Within hours after David Wells cleared waivers and became a free agent Thursday, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies were the first teams to express interest in possibly signing the veteran left-hander. Wells, 44, was cut free by the Padres last week, after going 5-8 with a 5.54 ERA. Opponents have hit .322 against Wells this season. But with almost no quality starting pitching available for trade this month -- the Blue Jays' Josh Towers and the Orioles' Steve Trachsel are probably the best starters to have gotten through waivers -- it is thought the Rockies, Dodgers and perhaps other teams could take a shot with Wells.

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