Dodgers Earn an Important Victory

Everyone tap-danced around the importance of getting back in the NL West race before the Diamondbacks disappeared in the distance. And the Dodgers, who lost four of their last five, scoring one run in each of the losses, didn't seem like the team that would -- or could -- bell the cat but just in time they snapped out of their malaise and bit the Snakes 8-3 to bring a bit of sanity to the season.

Manager Joe Torre was saying all the right things before the game, that is was only April and much too early to fret about looking up at the rest of the division from fourth or fifth place. But his top secret pre-game team meeting appeared that someone somewhere was worrying about something.

None of the players would talk about the 30-minute meeting, and how it effected the team but the important 8-3 Dodgers win shaved a game off the seven-game deficit they brought into the game.

The NL West-leading Diamondbacks swept the Dodgers in a three-game series two weeks ago at Phoenix.

Like a B-movie, the hero had trouble in the beginning but put it together just before the final curtain. Cut, fade out, everyone goes home happy.

"We had a lot more energy tonight," Torre said after the win. "Now we need to string a lot of them together. We need to have the same personality more often than we've been showing. Sometimes we fall behind early and we seem to go flat. We have to keep reminding ourselves we have to go hard all nine innings. We did that tonight against a team that swept us."

Derek Lowe, whose 12-14 record in 2007 was as deceptive as Harry Houdini's Chinese Water Torture act, was unable to get his right elbow loose -- but he pitched five innings and allowed only a single run. Then five of his friends, Chan Ho Park, Joe Beimel, Jonathan Broxton and Takashi Saito, paraded to the mound to muffle the powerful DBack bats.

"If it was later in the year, I would have kept going," Lowe said. "But having it happen so early in the season, they said, ‘OK, let's stop at this point.' We got some treatment, but they told me it's nothing that's going to allow me to miss any starts."

The offense, who were extremely ineffective in the Atlanta series and in the final game in Cincinnati, demonstrated they still remembered how to hit, whacking out 13 hits (12 of them singles) to score eight runs.

All this despite the fact they team didn't arrive at LAX until the early morning and they scrambled to get some sleep before reporting to the office in time for the game.

Somehow the managed to win a game they absolutely had to have, jumping into a second place tie in the madhouse NL West, and hitting with runners in scoring position in front of 42,590 at Dodger Stadium.

The Diamondbacks had outscored their opponents 23-6 in the first inning through their first 20 games but fell behind 2-0 in the first when Rafael Furcal singled, stole second and third and scored on Garciaparra's single James Loney singled later in the inning to score Nomar.

"We just knew we had to come out and get something going," Dodgers right fielder Matt Kemp said. "We have been down a little bit. We had to change some things. We had to battle, grind and make pitchers work and keep working, and we did that. When you have at least one or two good at-bats from everybody in your lineup, good things are going to happen."

Manager Joe Torre wasted no time in taking Lowe (2-1) out when he reported that his elbow tightened after the fifth inning. At the time, Lowe had allowed only a solo homer to Stephen Drew. Earning a win after working only five innings is something Lowe has seen little of. Mostly he pitches well, working deep into the game, and receives little run support.

"He wanted to go out there and try it, but it just didn't seem like a good idea," Torre said. "But we don't think - and when I say `we,' I mean the doctors, the trainers and myself - that it will jeopardize his next start."

Lowe (2-1) is scheduled to pitch Tuesday at Florida. Torre had to wing it from that point on, calling on Park in the sixth, Beimel to retired a lefty in the seventh and using both Broxton and Saito for 1.1 innings. It was the first action for Saito since April 15.

Broxton struck out slugger Chris Young with the bases loaded and Saito worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth to hold onto a 6-3 margin but Arizona right fielder Justin Upton misplayed a flyball that would have ended the inning and the resulting two runs gave him some working room.

Saito allowed two Diamondback hits in the ninth and earned his second save.

Keeping up the Halloween flavor, the Dodgers scored all eight of their runs with two outs, six of them on two-out hits, a complete reversal of form. They banged out 13 hits in all, including at least one from every spot in the order except No. 9.

Even Andruw Jones, who has been blasted by the fans for his non-production, Jones, rammed a line-drive single to center in the eighth inning to break an 0-for-13, seven- strikeout drought since his only home run of the season in Atlanta. On his 31st birthday he hit in the No. 2 slot. He is just 11-for-69 (.159) with three RBIs.

Five Dodgers had multiple hits (Furcal, Ethier, Loney, Kemp and Hu). Ethier scored three runs and Loney and Hu drove in a pair of runs each. Loney, who has seen his average plummet from .364 to .296, has five RBIs in the last three games and leads the team with 13.

"We came out there with the belief that we can play with those guys, and we showed it tonight," Loney said. "No matter who's on the mound, you have to believe in yourself.

"We were just trying to get good pitches to hit, really. He throws a split-finger pitch that drops a lot, and guys were able to lay off of it. Guys were having great at-bats up and down the lineup. I thought his stuff was the same, but our hitters were doing a great job of getting strikes to hit and hitting them."

Hu started in place of second baseman Jeff Kent, who was getting a day off. Nomar Garciaparra hit in Kent's cleanup spot, singled in a run and scored twice.

With the important victory, the Dodgers (9-12) moved into a second-place tie with Colorado in the NL West, six games behind the Diamondbacks. In the second, and final, game of the series, RHP Chad Billingsley (0-3, 6.14) will face RHP Edgar Gonzalez (0-1, 4.50) of Arizona.
 Score by innings
Arizona	000 010 110-3
Los Angeles	201 030 02x-8

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	5  1  2  0  .398
Jones cf	5  1  1  0  .159
Ethier lf	4  3  2  0  .333
Garciaparra 3b	3  2  1  1  .182
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Saito p	1  0  0  0  .000
Martin c	3  0  1  0  .236
Loney 1b	5  0  2  2  .296
Kemp rf	        5  1  2  1  .286
Hu 2b	        3  0  2  2  .278
Lowe p	        1  0  0  0  .273
 Young ph	1  0  0  0  .200
 Park p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 DeWitt 3b	1  0  0  0  .255
  Totals	37 8 13 6
  Arizona	36 3 10 3

 2b hits- Kemp (4). RBI- Garciaparra (4),
Loney 2 (13), Kemp (6), Hu 2 (3). S- Lowe.
SB- Furcal 2 (6). LOB- Los Angeles 11,
Arizona 11. DP- Loney.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Lowe (2-1)	5.0  3  1-1  1  2  2.45
Park	        1.0  2  1-1  1  1  3.75
Beimel	        0.1  1  0-0  0  0  1.23
Broxton	        1.1  1  1-1  2  2  2.79
Saito (sv 2)	1.1  3  0-0  1  2  3.68
 HBP- Ethier. T- 3:31. Att- 42,590.
Renovation Announcement- The Dodgers will hold a press conference today to announced a $500 million renovation package that will make Dodger Stadium even more fan-friendly. The project would transform the area behind the outfield to an entrance promenade featuring restaurants, shops, club offices and a Dodgers museum and add two parking garages to help replace the 2,000 spaces lost to construction. The Dodgers would not confirm the project cost or other specifics, but a news release from the office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa put the cost at $500 million.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Andy LaRoche, sidelined since tearing a ligament in his right thumb March 7, went one for six for double-A Jacksonville in the first game of a minor league rehab assignment Wednesday. LaRoche, who did not play in the field, lined a single to right in his first at-bat and came around to score. He also grounded out three times, flied out and struck out in Jacksonville's 15-9 win over Montgomery. ...Infielder Tony Abreu, on the disabled list with what's being called a strained groin, had an MRI exam early Wednesday and was to be examined by the Dodgers' medical staff later in the day. The team is growing increasingly frustrated trying to find the cause of the pain that has sidelined Abreu most of the spring. Abreu, who had his 2007 season interrupted by an abdominal problem, underwent hernia surgery in October. ...Rafael Furcal has 14 extra-base hits, including nine doubles, two triples and three home runs so far this month. Only three Dodgers have collected more than 14 extra-base hits in the month of March/April since the team moved to Los Angeles prior to the 1958 season.  Furcal has seven more games this month to establish the club record.

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