Lowe's Luck Continues -- Bad

The song says it never rains in Southern California but that as disproved in the ninth inning when a heavy downpour held the game up for 65 minutes before the Cardinals got around to dumping the Dodger 3-2. Derek Lowe pitched well but his losing streak continues. He last won on April 23.

The rain delay was the second this season at Chavez Ravine, which has had 17 rainouts since the ballpark opened in 1962 -- and none since April 17, 2000. On April 2, San Francisco completed its 2-1 victory after a 74-minute interruption.

When, as is expected, Lowe moves on after the season, he will remember the many times he pitched well but received very little run support. In 2007, he was given over a half-run less than Brad Penny over his starts.

. The Cliff's Note version of the game was simple: Lowe walked Albert Pujols in the third and Ryan Ludwick homered. 2-0 Cardinals. In the seventh, Chin-Lung Hu tripled and scored on Mark Sweeney's pinch-hit sac fly.

But there was much more to the game.

After the rain delay, the Dodgers mounted a mini-rally. Matt Kemp walked and stole second with one out and with two out, Delwyn Young walked as a pinch-hitter and Kemp moved to third on a ball-four wild pitch.

What was left of the 52,000+ crowd groaned when manager Joe Torre sent Andrew Jones to the plate despite the fact he was hitting .167 an an incredible 1-for-32 with runners in scoring position. He missed a couple hanging sliders, then miss a third one that was down and off the plate. He is now hitless in his past eight at-bats, with five strikeouts.

"We had runners on base. We just couldn't get that hit. That's the way it was all night," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "Lowe certainly pitched well enough to win."

Joe Beimel, Scott Proctor and Cory Wade shut out the Cardinals over the final two innings, giving the Dodgers a chance.

Lowe (2-5) allowed two runs and five hits over seven innings, but remained winless in six outings since beating Arizona in late April. Since then he had allowed 28 runs over 26.1 innings. The right-hander is 2-5 overall, 0-4 in his last six starts and 1-5 lifetime against the Cards.

But this night he was dominating, using his trademark sinkerball to record 10 groundball outs over his seven innings. After the homer, Lowe allowed just two hits the rest of the game.

He cited his improvement the fact he just slowed down, allowing him to get better sink on his sinkerball. "All in all, a much better game than the previous five or six."

"It's about tempo and release point," pitching coach Rick Honeycutt explained. "If you get your body moving too quick, the arm drags a little bit and the ball flattens out. When you're going through what he's been going through, you have a tendency to speed up everything instead of slowing down."

Hall of Famer Greg Maddux has long been an advocate of slowing down the game, and it is probably no coincidence Lowe went 8-1 over the two months that Maddux and Lowe spent time together in the dugout.

And as usual in a Lowe start, the Dodgers' offense was pretty much missing, collecting five hits, two each by Russ Martin and Hu, going hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position and stranded eight baserunners, three of them at third base.

The team was 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and Juan Pierre, Andre Ethier, James Loney, Jeff Kent and Blake DeWitt were 0-for-20. Kent is 5-for-51 over the last 15 games, his average falling from .298 to .234.

Martin singled, doubled and walked, raising his average to .311, but he was stranded at second after a double to lead off the fourth and was left at third with two outs in the sixth. Kemp, in the second, and Hu, in the fifth, were also left in scoring position with fewer than two outs.

Rafael Furcal awoke with a stiff back and his anticipated return to the lineup was delayed. There is no timetable for his return to full-time duty.

The Dodgers dropped to 25-22 and 3 1/2 behind Arizona.
 Score by innings
St. Louis	002 000 000-2	
Los Angeles	000 000 100-1

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Pierre lf	4  0  0  0  .275
Ethier rf	4  0  0  0  .283
Martin c	3  0  2  0  .311
Kent 2b	        4  0  0  0  .234
Loney 1b	4  0  0  0  .288
Kemp rf	        2  0  1  0  .325
DeWitt 3b	4  0  0  0  .315
Hu ss	        3  1  2  0  .205
 Young ph	0  0  0  0  .280
Lowe p	        2  0  0  0  .263
 Sweeney ph	0  0  0  1  .114
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Proctor p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Wade p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Jones ph 	1  0  0  0  .165
  Totals	31 1 5 1
  St. Louis	32 2 6 2

 Error- Loney (5). 2b hits- Martin (7).
3b hits- Hu (1). RBI- Sweeney (2). SF-
Sweeney. SB- Kemp (10). LOB- Los Angeles
8, St. Louis 8.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Lowe (2-5)	7.0  5  2-2  2  5  5.03
Beimel	        0.1  0  0-0  0  0  1.15
Proctor	        0.2  0  0-0  2  2  5.32
Wade	        1.0  1  0-0  0  0  1.54
 T- 2:49 (1:05 delay). Att- 62,281.
Kershaw to Debut Sunday?
The Dodgers aren't saying much about it but there are indications that 20-year-old Clayton Kershaw will be recalled from Jacksonville and make his major-league debut against the Cardinals.

The Dodgers begin a 17-day stretch without an off-day, so they'll need a fifth starter at least the next three times through the rotation, the first time that has happened this season. That might mean Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda will each be pushed back a day.

Replay Not the Answer
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ray Ratto points out that there are better ways than replay to get umpiring calls right.

"Rumor has it that Major League Baseball is thinking of using replay in the Arizona Fall League," Ratto writes. "Which is to say that in its forward-thinking view, baseball thinks the way to test the efficacy of replay is to use it in venues where few people care about the original call, let alone a second view of it.

"Replay debates crop up periodically in baseball because: a) it is the one sport that doesn't use it, b) because Bud Selig doesn't like it, and c) someone just saw a bad call on television and has time to fill on the next day's show. One needn't be a conspiracy nut to note that the latest outrage against sense came after an Alex Rodriguez home run in Yankee Stadium, and if a Yankee or Red Sox player sneezes, someone wants to make antihistamines mandatory.

"...There are other solutions to this nagging problem. And because they cost money, or cause inconvenience, they will be rejected. The first is to actually use six umpires for every game, the first change in umpire utilization since baseball stopped using two umpires in 1397.

"Making calls from 240 feet away has never been a useful demonstration of judgment, and since baseball is continuously boasting about record attendance and being flush with cash from MLB.com and MLB.TV, improving the onfield adjudication of the game seems like a reasonable thing to do.

"Second, how about getting rid of the yellow lines that demarcate a home run from a double? They've been a bad idea from the moment they were first introduced at the Astrodome more than 40 years ago, and they are a bad idea now, in the era of a new, asymmetrical, tricked-up, Lego-designers-on-smack-inspired stadia.

"How hard would it be to require that the ball go into the stands, like in the olden days? Or moving in the fences if need be? Or setting some sort of cushion system so that when a ball clears the home run barrier, it drops down rather than ricochets about like a ball-bearing on a granite countertop, deadened on impact and therefore easy to adjudicate?

"I mean, can it really be that hard to make a home run act like a home run? Of course not. Any engineer on site could make that happen without spilling the day's first designer java, and still have time for the mid-morning chaser."

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