Ethier, Lowe Help Dodgers Rise From the Dead

You can't help Dodgers fans from feeling like Lazarus, laying going on four days in burial clothing - especially after that 9-of-10 game losing streak. And for whatever else you may think or not think of Tommy Lasorda, he always promises to pray to the Big Dodger in the sky.

Whether it is answered prayer or not, Lazerus, er, the Dodgers are stirring and not quite dead yet.

As bad as they looked losing 9-of-10, they have looked good by winning six in a row, besting the front running Razerbacks in the first of a crucial three game set in Dodgers Stadium (the last time the two teams will meet this year) - and cutting the deficit to a mere half game.

Seasoned veteran pitcher Derek Lowe is, in September, what the Yankees Alex Rodriguez is not, that is a clutch performer in September. Maybe he waits until the kids get back in the school busses. Maybe he waits until summer is over, but whatever the case, Lowe pitched a dandy two-hitter through eight innings and a shutout resulted.

Under-appreciated outfielder Andre Ethier, whom the Dodgers preferred only to start when Juan Pierre and Andrew Jones couldn't, went 5-for-5, hit his team leading 20th homer and provided all the offense Lowe would need. One wonders what Joe Torre thinks about Ethier these days.

If he hasn't changed his mind about who has to be in the everyday lineup by now, he ought to go to the front of the list for a prefrontal lobotomy. One also wonders where the Dodgers might have been this morning if Ethier had played everyday before this.

The Dodgers can seize the lead with their ace Chad Billingsley on the hill.

Billingsley on the mound is what Ethier is in the lineup - indispensable. Remember back in the first month of play, Billingsley was held out of the rotation and even made a couple of appearances as long man out of the bullpen.

Billingsley had cemented a role in the rotation last year but then new decision makers came in who had to see for themselves.

This took a while - more for the decision makers than for Billingsley - and, as in the case of Ethier, now they know or ought to know. Again, one wonders where the Dodgers might have been this morning had Billingsley been handled better. Back then, the Dodgers preferred Esteban Loaiza pitching ahead of Billingsley.

For Dodgers fans, there is additional hope. They have changed the pitching rotation around and replaced pitching-on-fumes Greg Maddux with the kid with the electric stuff, Clayton Kershaw, for the finale with the Razorbacks. Enough said. Win or lose with your best.

The Dodgers have enough Lazerus types on the squad. One hopes that in the final two games of this crucial set, somebody will alert Joe Torre that he has other options than the more-dead than-alive bat of Mark Sweeney if he needs a pinch hitter late in the game.

A final tip for Torre from the presidential race: John McCain managed his Lazerus-like comeback by doing what? He didn't go old. He didn't go for experience. He chose life over limbo.

Thus, the Dodgers purgatory looks at least as if there is a chance for redemption.

So endeth the lesson.