Waiting for the Manny, Dodgers Lose 2-1

When the dancing in the streets ended, the last bit of confetti had fluttered to the ground and the band had packed up and gone home, the reality set in. The euphoria over the acquisition of one of the premier hitters in baseball did little to change the fact that Derek Lowe rarely receives much run support and L.A. can't seem to beat Brandon Webb.

Webb, who won 2-1 and scattered six hits in winning his 15th game of the season, improved to 10-3 and is 8-0 in his last nine starts against Los Angeles, allowing only nine runs in 71 innings (1.14 ERA).

"I've had some good luck against those guys," said the 29-year-old right-hander, who hasn't lost to the Dodgers since July 7, 2004. "That was probably some of the best stuff I've had all year. I was able to keep the ball down. In my eyes, it's the biggest one we've had all year."

On the other side of the mirror, Derek Lowe slipped to 8-9 with the loss and the club has scored 10 runs in his nine losses.

The win gave the Diamondbacks a two-game lead over the Dodgers with three left to play in the series.

Manny Ramirez is scheduled to make his Los Angeles debut tonight in what looks like a potentially disastrous matchup for the Dodgers. Veteran Hall of Famer in waiting Randy Johnson will face rookie Hall of Fame contender Clayton Kershaw.

Meeting in the first of a four game series, each team scored in one inning. Singles by Juan Pierre and Matt Kemp were followed by Russell Martin's ground ball in the sixth to give the home team a 1-0 lead.

Arizona broke a 29-innings scoreless streak the Dodgers had crafted on doubles by Conor Jackson and Mark Reynolds and a single by Chris Snyder in the seventh. That knocked Lowe (8-9) and the Dodgers out of the game.

It was the Dodgers' longest scoreless inning streak since they held the opposition without a run for 38 innings in 1991.

"You're not allowed much leeway when you pitch against a guy like Webb," Lowe said. "You really have to pitch near-perfect baseball to beat him. That's always a good challenge, but most frustrating thing was getting a one-run lead and giving it back on 10 pitches."

The Dodgers made a move in the eighth when a pair of pinch-hitters, Andre Ethier and Mark Sweeney, singled to open the inning. Manager Joe Torre had Pierre bunt them into scoring position. Kemp laced a shot to left that Jackson caught and fired to the plate nail Ethier.

Lowe, who gave up one hit in eight shutout innings against Washington in his previous start, allowed seven hits and two runs in 6.1 innings with no walks and seven strikeouts.

He allowed a pair of singles in the third but third baseman Casey Blake grabbed Chris Young's line drive and turned it into an inning-ending double play. The DBacks wouldn't get another baserunner until Drew doubled with one out in the sixth.

Pierre singled to start the fourth for the first Los Angeles hit, but Kemp grounded into a double play. Martin followed with a single and James Loney walked before Blake struck out.

Injured knees kept veterans Jeff Kent and Nomar Garciaparra on the sidelines in the first game of the crucial series. The Dodgers were flying on just one motor with Angel Berroa at short and Pablo Ozuna at second plus Andruw Jones in the outfield in place of Ethier who had an upset stomach.

It was the Dodgers 29th loss this year while scoring one or no runs. It is probably too much to expect that Ramirez could reverse that all by himself.

The Dodgers are mulling over how to clear a roster spot of Ramirez, who is expected to be in the lineup tonight. Garciaparra might go on the disabled list or Sweeney could be released, although he had had pinch-singles in his last two trips to the plate. Or they could move a pitcher, although Torre loves the flexibility of his current bullpen.

In tonight's matchup, both Kershaw and Johnson are coming off strong starts. Kershaw (1-3, 4.53 ERA) worked six scoreless innings in his best start of his young career and Johnson (8-7, 4.58 ERA) had allowed no runs in each of his last two trips to the mound.

 Score by innings
Arizona	        000 000 200-2
Los Angeles	000 001 000-1

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Pierre lf	3  1  2  0  .283
 Ardoin c	0  0  0  0  .208
Kemp rf	        4  0  1  0  .295
Martin c-3b	4  0  1  0  .297
Loney 1b	3  0  0  0  .296
Blake 3b-2b	4  0  1  0  .295
Jones cf	4  0  0  0  .163
Berroa ss	3  0  0  0  .198
Ozuna 2b	2  0  0  0  .271
 Ethier ph-lf	1  0  1  0  .274
Lowe p        	2  0  0  0  .186
 Kuo p        	0  0  0  0  .333
 Sweeney ph	1  0  1  0  .119
 Wade p	        0  0  0  0  .000
  Totals	31 1 7 1
  Arizona	34 2 8 2

 RBI- Martin (52). S- Pierre. CS-Kemp (8).
LOB- Los Angeles 5, Arizona 5. DP- Blake
and Ozuna.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Lowe (8-9)	6.1  7  2-2  0  7  3.70
Kuo        	1.2  1  0-0  0  2  1.78
Wade        	1.0  0  0-0  0  1  2.72
 T- 2:18. Att- 42,440.
First Round Curse Strikes Again
Perhaps the Dodgers need a goat, or a black cat at midnight in a cemetery or perhaps they might have to sneak into Chase Field in Arizona and bury a Dodgers t-shirt, but in any event, Ethan Martin, the Dodgers' first-round pick in last month's First-Year Player Draft, is scheduled to undergo season-ending knee surgery, stretching the current #1 pick curse to three seasons.

Martin, a right-handed power pitcher taken with the 15th overall pick out of Stephens County High School in Georgia, suffered the injury during fielding drills. He signed earlier this month for a $1.73 million bonus.

Martin, 19, was named the 2008 Georgia State High School Player of the Year by Gatorade after going 11-1 with a 0.99 ERA as a senior. He also had 141 strikeouts in 79 innings. He was named a 2007 AFLAC All-American after his junior season, during which he went 6-1 with 81 strikeouts and a 1.41 ERA.

He was rated by Baseball America as having the second-best fastball among Draft-eligible high school pitchers. He is also rated as having the third-best secondary pitch.

Dodgers assistant general manager Logan White projects Martin to compare with Diamondbacks pitcher Dan Haren.

Bryan Morris, recently traded for Ramirez, was the 2006 first round pick and he missed all of 2006 with an injury, Chris Withrow, the Dodgers' first-round pick in 2007, has not pitched this season because of arm problems.

No Deal For Maddux
The Padres and Dodgers couldn't come to an agreement on a deal that would send 42-year-old pitcher Greg Maddux to Los Angeles and San Diego opted to stand pat as the Trade Deadline passed without a move involving the future Hall of Famer.

San Diego general manager Kevin Towers said that "nothing ever got close" in terms of trading Maddux, who has 351 career victories. Towers made it clear that the Padres were not merely looking to deal Maddux to save more than $3 million on his 2008 contract.

"It wasn't going to be a financial deal ... but to do the best baseball deal," Towers said. "We weren't happy with the prospect we were getting back. So we chose to hold onto him."

Maddux, who has a full no-trade clause, told Towers that he wanted to remain on the West Coast. Baseball sources said last that Maddux wanted to play for the Dodgers.

Towers didn't rule out that a deal with the Dodgers could still get done, although he did say it would become "dicier" because Maddux would have to clear waivers. But unless they step up and give us the prospect package we want, I don't expect anything will happen," Towers said.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Kemp extended his hitting streak to a career-high 18 games with a single in the sixth Thursday. He is hitting .365 with five homers and 10 RBIs during the streak, which is tied with Seattle's Jose Lopez for the longest in the Majors. Kemp has also hit in 25 of 26 games. The Dodgers finished July with a 16-10 record and scored 4.5 runs per game after going 11-16 with 3.1 runs in June but the loss dropped them more than one game behind the DBacks for the first time since July 12. ...After batting .094 during the first half of the season, Mark Sweeney has two hits in three at-bats in the second half after his second straight pinch-hit single. His career batting average is 36 points higher after the break, ninth highest among active players with at least 1,000 at-bats. ...The Diamondbacks have a 28-13 record against NL West foes and a 28-39 mark otherwise. They won the division last year by going 36-36 against NL West opponents and 54-36 otherwise.

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