After Win Over Rockies, Dodgers Hit the Road

The Dodgers put a "must-win" game into the books, topping the Rockies by a 3-1 margin, stopping their winning streak at five and realizing that with Brandon Webb starting the Diamondbacks would probably win (they did), and that they would leave on a difficult 10-day road trip that would take them to Philadelphia, Washington and Arizona trailing the Snakes by two games.

Los Angeles completed their last long home series with a 7-3 record and winning pitcher Derek Low (10-10) will finish with double-digit wins for the seventh straight season, the last four with the Dodgers.

The 35-year-old veteran who is probably in his last season in Los Angeles, allowed four hits, a first inning run and struck out seven. He turned the ball and the game over to Hong-Chih Kuo and Jonathan Broxton with one out after after issuing a walk in the seventh.

Lowe, with his friend Greg Maddux whispering in his ear between innings, threw 107 pitches on the hot afternoon, the final week-day afternoon at home on their schedule.

"I talked to him [Maddux] before the game," said Lowe. "He told me how he pitches to them. He gave me a couple tips during the game based on what he saw guys doing. Both times it worked."

He worked out of a two-out, two-on mess in the fourth by getting a fly to left, and then retired the next seven, four on strikes, before leaving.

James Loney homered (#10) and knocked in another run with a single. Andre Ethier's single drove in the only other Dodgers run as they avoided a three game sweep.

Lowe kept the Rockies off balance and off the bases with his sinker. "I think they have one of the best offenses we face, especially against me. They're all low-ball hitters," Lowe said. "I threw a lot of breaking balls and tried not to be so predictable, throwing sinker away, sinker away. You have to command your off-speed pitches against this lineup. I was fortunate to keep it to one run."

Kuo finished the seventh, striking out the first batter and allowing a soft double to right before ending the inning, then he retired the Rockies in order in the eighth.

Broxton allowed a double to open the ninth, then geared things up a notch and struck out the next three in succession to earn his 10th save.

"It [the double] was a stupid pitch. I threw him splitters last night, then started him with a breaking ball tonight and he was waiting for it. I got a little mad, started turning it loose.

"I was really, [ticked]," he said. "I was tired of giving up hits, it's no fun getting beat. So I said it's time to just -- here it is. If I'm going out, I'll go out with my best stuff. Just throw fastballs. I was really mad, maybe that's what it takes."

Of the last 14 pitches the threw -- all fastballs -- none of them was slower than 98 MPH as clocked by MLB's pitch tracker, and four of them hit 101. Troy Tulowitzki took three of the 101 mph lightening bolts, then swung through a 99-mph hummer to end the game.

The Rockies scored their only run in the first off Lowe when Clint Barmes singled, stole second, took third on an infield out and came home on Matt Holliday's sacrifice fly.

Lowe slammed the door after that. He allowed a hit in each of the next three innings before retiring the next eight in succession.

The Dodgers tied the game in the fourth inning when Manny Ramirez reached base on an error and surprised everyone when he stole second. It was his first with Los Angeles and second of the year.

"Juan Pierre told me to go, so I went," Ramirez said afterward with a smile. Pierre, who has 38 stolen bases to rank third in the NL, shook his head the claim. "I told him we needed the run. I didn't think he was going to go."

Torre said Ramirez asked for the green light on the bases and told him, "If you get the chance, go ahead. When you don't run with regularity, they have a tendency not to pay attention to you. Manny seemed to pick us up with that stolen base."

That put Ramirez in scoring position and Loney drove him across with a one-out single to left field, the first Dodger hit of the afternoon.

Matt Kemp got a hustle double with two out and scored on Andre Ethier's RBI single. Then Loney smashed his 10th home run to deep right field leading off the seventh. It was his first since July 25 and second against Colorado. Seven of his 29 career home runs are against the Rockies.

The Dodgers now open a road swing with four in Philadelphia. They put a crimp in their pennant drive by taking four in a row to open the most recent home stand but the Phillies are a much tougher team in their home park.

The Dodgers are a different team, too.

Ken Gurnick of pointed out that with Greg Maddux, Manny Ramirez and Jeff Kent, the Dodgers have three players with Hall of Fame credentials in the lineup, probably for the first time since the 1950s.

Maddux (6-9, 3.99 ERA) handled the explosive Phillies lineup last week while pitching for San Diego, allowing only a solo home run to Pat Burrell in seven innings. However, using Maddux back-to-back with rookie Clayton Kershaw could result in a pair of short starts and put a strain on the bullpen.

RHP Kyle Kendrick (10-7, 5.01 ERA) opens for Philadelphia. After starting strong he has struggled, recording a 6.90 ERA in his past six starts.

The rest of the series matches up this way:
Saturday, LHP Clayton Kershaw (2-3, 3.59) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (10-8, 3.22)
Sunday, RHP Hiroki Kuroda (7-9, 3.97) vs. RHP Joe Blanton (1-0, 4.50)
Monday, August 25  RHP Chad Billingsley (12-9, 3.10) vs. Brett Myers (6-10, 4.71)

 Score by innings
Colorado	100 000 000-1
Los Angeles	000 110 10x-3

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Kemp cf	        4  1  1  0  .300
Ethier rf	4  0  1  1  .279
Garciaparra ss	4  0  0  0  .259
 Ozuna 2b	0  0  0  0  .188
Ramirez lf	2  1  1  0  .406
Martin c	3  0  0  0  .289
Loney 1b	3  1  2  2  .292
Blake 3b	2  0  0  0  .266
Berroa 2b-ss	3  0  0  0  .206
Lowe p	        2  0  0  0  .157
 Kuo p	        1  0  0  0  .250
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
  Totals	28 3 5 3
  Colorado	33 1 6 1

 Error- Loney (11). Two-base hits- Kemp 
(33).  HR- Loney (10). RBI- Loney 2 (70), 
Ethier (55). SB- Ramirez (1). 
LOB- Los Angeles 3, Colorado 8. 	

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Lowe (10-10)	6.1  4  1-1  2  7  3.89
Kuo        	1.2  1  0-0  0  2  2.21
Broxton (sv 10)     1.0  1  0-0  0  3  3.62
 WP- Broxton. T- 2:36. Att- 44,885.
Penny Volunteers for Relief
Brad Penny, out of action for nearly two months with a bad shoulder, volunteered to work out of the bullpen, and manager Joe Torre gave him a qualified OK, waiting to see how he rebounds after a cortisone shot that has shut him down for 10 days.

"He's a little frustrated. He wants to pitch, and in all likelihood, it will be in the bullpen," said Torre. "He came to me and said he'd do whatever we needed. But before we know how he feels, I've put it out of my mind."

Torre pointed out that a relief role will shorten the time Penny will need to rehabilitate, because pitch count won't be as much of a factor. Penny is 6-9 with a 6.05 ERA.

Dodger Blue Notes
Angel Berroa made his first career start at second base to give Jeff Kent a day off. Berroa got the start instead of Pablo Ozuna for more defensive range, even though Ozuna is generally used as Kent's defensive replacement. ...Maddux has 353 career victories to rank ninth on baseball's all-time list. ...Lowe has been tough at Dodger Stadium this season, going 8-5 with a 2.64 ERA (30 ER/102.1.0 IP) in 14 starts at home. Lowe's 2.72 ERA ranks sixth in the NL and the right-hander is also limiting opposing hitters to a .218 average at home, compared to a .330 mark on the road. The Michigan native is 5-2 in 10 starts against the NL West this season. ...Kent's .429 average (30-for-70) during August ranks third in the NL, behind Ronnie Belliard (.444) and Randy Winn (.444). Kent is tied with Eddie Murray for 20th on the all-time doubles list No. 560 and ranks 47th on the all-time RBI list, 10 behind longtime Tigers' outfielder Sam Crawford. ...The Dodgers are 23-16 in games with an opposing left-handed starter. The Dodgers have won eight of their last 11 with an opposing lefty starter beginning July 25. The club's overall record against lefties includes a 13-8 mark at Dodger Stadium. ...Matt Kemp recorded his 13th outfield assist in the second game of the series. Kemp's 13 assists are tied for the Major League lead with Houston's Hunter Pence, Toronto's Alex Rios, and Baltimore's Nick Markakis. ...Following the win, the Dodgers are now 11-8 since the arrival of 12-time All-Star Manny Ramirez on August 1, including an 9-4 mark at Dodger Stadium. Ramirez has done his part, however, and pairs with Matt Kemp to lead the Dodgers in most offensive categories since the All-Star break. Following the Midsummer Classic, Ramirez leads the Dodgers in RBI (21), average (.406), on-base percentage (.488), slugging percentage (.716) and is tied for the team lead in homers (6). Kemp leads the club in runs (27), hits (46), doubles (11), and is tied for the lead in home runs (6). ...Snoop Dogg, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ...Happy Birthday wishes go out to longtime International scout Mike Brito. ...During a question-and-answer session at the steroid clinic, one child asked Juan Pierre if Manny Ramirez took his spot. "He took everyone's spot," Pierre said. .

In the "Best Moves We Never Made" Department
Luke Hochever left his last start with ribcage tightness and was placed on the disabled list with what the Royals are calling a contusion, probably ending his rookie season. Hochevar, who turned down a $2.9 million bonus to sign with the Dodgers, has struggled in his first full year as a major leaguer, going 6-12 with a 5.51 ERA and 72-to-47 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 129 innings spread over 22 starts, and the former No. 1 overall pick has yet to show anything to suggest that he has star potential long term. Hochevar was ranked by Baseball America as the eighth-best prospect in the 2006 draft and the rest of the top 10 included Tim Lincecum, Evan Longoria, Joba Chamerlain, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Andrew Miller and Brandon Morrow, which makes his lack of development all the more frustrating for the Royals. In addition to his poor pre-injury performance in the majors, he went 5-10 with a 4.35 ERA and 166-to-55 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 184 minor-league innings.  

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