Giants Help Dodgers to 3 1/2 Game Lead

Over 100+ bitter years the Dodgers and Giants have battled each other in the National League, and it has been a rarity when one club actually did something to help the other. However, San Francisco's three-game sweep of Arizona coupled with the Dodgers 7-2 win over San Diego gave the guys in Dodger Blue their 10th win in 11 games and a 3 1/2 game lead with 16 games left in the 2008 season.

The favor was inadvertent and it's not to say the Giants won't do their best to do the same thing to Los Angeles in the six game remaining between the two, but be that as it may, they were certainly helpful this time around.

Derek Lowe zipped into the sixth inning having allowed three hits and leading 5-1 but was knocked out of the box -- literally -- when Kevin Kouzmanoff lined a one-hopper off the back of his right knee. The knee seemed a bit stiff and his pitch count was at 86 so manager Joe Torre called on Scott Elbert to take over and he completed the inning without any damage.

Arizona ace Brandon Webb was hit in the chest by a line drive from Kouzmanoff three weeks ago and since then hasn't been the same. In his three starts that followed the incident, Webb has a 12.51 earned-run average and an 0-3 record that includes two losses to the Dodgers.

When asked where the ball hit him, Lowe replied with a smile, "It didn't. I just wanted out." Torre said that Lowe did want to continue and that he probably would've let him if his pitch count wasn't already high. "I had to wrestle the ball away from him," Torre said.

Lowe is now 5-1 with a 1.19 ERA in seven starts over the past month. He is expected to make his next scheduled start Tuesday night at Pittsburgh.

Manny Ramirez hit two mammoth home runs over the distant center field wall in Petco Park and knocked in four runs. He smacked a 435-foot shot off starter Shawn Estes (the fifth longest in Petco this season) and then added a 404-foot bomb off reliever Dirk Hayhurst, his 523rd and 524th homer of his career.

One writer dubbed his first long bomb a "Star Wars" homer; you know, where no man has gone before.

Both shots came with Andre Ethier on base with a single. Ramirez hit three home runs in the series, the first to left field in the Dodgers' win on Tuesday. In his 38 games with the Dodgers, he has 14 home runs and his 40 runs batted in leads the National League since August 1.

"He gets that ball in the air, it doesn't come down," said Torre.

James Loney added his 12th home run and Blake DeWitt doubled in a run as Los Angeles boosted their record to 75-71.

Brad Penny, activated earlier in the day, made his debut out of the bullpen but it was anything but a smash hit. He started the seventh and allowed a walk and a pair of single to load the bases. Cory Wade was quickly called upon to limit the damage and he got a sac fly and a double play to end the inning.

Lowe, who won his 13th game of the season, was both delighted and amazed by Ramirez's power. "What can you say about Manny?" Lowe said. "He's been absolutely phenomenal since we've got him. This is clearly a pitcher's park, we all know that. You don't see too many balls at night go out in center field and to be able to do it twice is pretty impressive.

"The thing I said when we got him was, 'Don't go by what you've read, I know that for a fact. I know the type of guy he is without the media there. Once he got out of that Boston arena, he'd be fine'. For a superstar player, it's surprising to people to see how much of a kid he is. It's refreshing. He's relaxed a lot of people, taken the pressure off a lot of people here."

Loney hit his 12th home run to ignite a three-run second inning and erase a 1-0 San Diego lead. The homer was his first extra base hit in 13 games. DeWitt added an RBI double and Russell Martin's RBI single accounted for the other run.

The Padres scored in the first on a leadoff double by Brian Giles and two ground balls, snapping Lowe's 19 consecutive scoreless innings streak.

The Dodgers have today off and then moved to Colorado to face the Rockies who knocked them out the wild card race last season.

This time the Dodgers open in first place, having won 10 of their past 11, while the Rockies are third, eight games back, and on a four-game losing streak.

This is a different Dodgers team from two months ago, with Manny Ramirez, Casey Blake, Blake DeWitt and Angel Berroa plus Greg Maddux in the starting rotation and Brad Penny in the bullpen.

The Dodgers open with RHP Chad Billingsley (14-10, 3.02 ERA) who is coming off a sterling performance against Arizona. He worked 6.1 innings, allowing four hits, a walk and striking out nine. Billingsley gone 11 straight outings without allowing more than three runs, a period in which he's 6-2 with a 2.48 ERA.

However, the right-hander is 0-2 with an 8.76 ERA in three career outings (two starts) at Colorado.

The Rockies counter with LHP Jeff Francis (4-9, 5.03 ERA) who has been tough to handle for the Dodgers over his career. He pitched very well against San Diego and Houston in his last two starts but was facing Jake Peavy and Roy Oswalt. He has allowed just three runs on 13 hits in his last 13.1 innings.

 Score by innings
Los Angeles	030 020 002-7
San Diego	100 000 100-2

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Martin c	4  0  1  1  .278
Ethier rf	4  2  2  0  .301
Ramirez lf	5  2  2  4  .396
 Repko lf	0  0  0  0  .200
Blake 3b	5  0  1  0  .262
Loney 1b	4  1  1  1  .297
Kemp cf	        3  1  0  0  .285
DeWitt 2b	3  1  2  1  .268
Berroa ss	4  0  0  0  .225
Lowe p	        1  0  0  0  .150
 Elbert p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Pierre ph 	1  0  0  0  .273
 Penny p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Wade p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Sweeney ph	1  0  0  0  .129
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
  Totals	35 7 8 7
  San Diego	29 2 5 2

 Error- Loney (12), 2b hits- DeWitt (13). 
HR- Loney (12), Ramirez 2 (14). RBI- Loney 
(80), DeWitt (42), Martin (61), Ramirez 4 (40). 
SB- Martin (16), LOB- Los Angeles 6, San Diego 
5. DP- Lowe, Berroa and Loney' DeWitt and Loney.

 Los Angeles	 in  h  r-er bb so  era
Lowe (13-11)	5.1  3  1-1  1  3  3.48
Elbert	        0.2  0  0-0  0  1  6.23
Penny	        0.0  2  1-1  1  0  6.15
Wade	        2.0  0  0-0  0  2  2.37
Beimel	        1.0  0  0-0  0  0  2.06
 HBP- by Lowe. T- 2:48. Att- 27,203,
Dodger Blue Notes-- Joe Beimel extended his Dodgers' record when he worked his 96th consecutive game without allowing a home run. Jonathan Broxton held the record last season with 95. ...Ethier, who singled before each of Ramirez's home runs, is batting .500 with 17 runs scored in the 13 games he's batted ahead of Ramirez in the lineup. Ramirez is 10 games behind Jimmy Foxx (534) on the all-time home run list. ...Angel Berroa is batting .285 over his lat 17 games and has committed just two errors in his last 25 games. ...DeWitt went 2-for-3 with an RBI against the Padres and is hitting .342 with six RBIs since replacing Kent at second base 11 games ago. He went 5-for-10 in the series against San Diego. ...The Dodgers are one of four teams to have three starters with sub-4.00 ERAs: Chad Billingsley (3.02), Derek Lowe (3.53) and Hiroki Kuroda (3.93. ... Hong-Chic Kuo's 2.03 ERA is second best among NL relievers who have worked 40 or more games. Joe Beimel (2.06) is fourth and Cory Wade (2.37) is 10th. ... There is a severe shortage of blood in the Los Angeles area and Dodger fans can take part in the Freeway Series Closer Blood Drive at Dodger Stadium today from 2-8 p.m. All donors will receive a special commemorative item after entering through the main gate at Elysian Park Avenue.

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