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Second Loss Is Only a Glancing Blow

April 11, 2005|Steve Henson | Times Staff Writer

PHOENIX — Derek Lowe had a plane to catch and a ring to fetch. He wasn't going to let a painful arm bruise caused by a line drive stop him from taking part in a World Series commemoration.

So Lowe took off for Boston while his Dodger teammates headed home after losing to the Arizona Diamondbacks, 5-4, Sunday at Bank One Ballpark. An integral part of the Red Sox's first championship in 86 years, Lowe will take part in a ceremony at Fenway Park today.

For the Dodgers, the sting of losing was softened by the knowledge that Lowe was not seriously injured when Craig Counsell hit a ball in the fifth inning that landed squarely on the back of his triceps, dangerously close to his elbow.

With four pitchers -- Eric Gagne, Brad Penny, Wilson Alvarez and Darren Dreifort -- on the disabled list and reliever Giovanni Carrara nursing a tender hamstring, the Dodgers could ill afford another injury. X-rays were negative, and trainer Stan Johnston said Lowe should not miss a start.

"We were very, very lucky," Manager Jim Tracy said. "If the ball hit two inches lower, it could have been a broken elbow."

The Dodgers also were buoyed by the realization that they will enter their home opener Tuesday with a 4-2 record, having won two of three against both the San Francisco Giants and the Diamondbacks on the road.

"I've been jealous of the teams that have already played in front of their home crowds," General Manager Paul DePodesta said. "But we're coming home in first place."

The day off will be welcome because Lowe's early exit taxed the thin bullpen. After a home run by Shawn Green against reliever Kelly Wunsch in the sixth stretched the Diamondback lead to 4-2, the Dodgers tied the score an inning later on rookie Jason Repko's first home run.

But the Diamondbacks struck back in the eighth against Duaner Sanchez (0-1), who was making his second appearance in two games.

Luis Gonzalez led off with a single on a 3-1 pitch and scored with one out on a single by Chad Tracy. Although Sanchez retired Quinton McCracken and Alex Cintron with the bases loaded, the damage was done.

"I was going ball one, ball two, and I get in trouble when I fall behind in the count," Sanchez said.

The Dodgers had 12 hits and stranded 11 runners against Russ Ortiz and four relievers, whose pitching was better than it had been.

The fifth and sixth innings were especially frustrating for the Dodgers. Jason Phillips doubled to open the fifth, Hee-Seop Choi walked and Lowe advanced them with a bunt. But Cesar Izturis, who had three hits, popped to third. After Repko walked, J.D. Drew extended his hitless string to 25 at-bats by grounding to third.

Trailing, 3-1, in the sixth, the Dodgers loaded the bases with none out. Phillips walked to bring in Jeff Kent, but Choi popped out and pinch-hitter Milton Bradley grounded into a double play.

Lowe gave up a home run in the second inning to Troy Glaus -- his fourth in four games -- and another run in the third before a rare error by Izturis set the table for Counsell's line drive in the fifth. The ball bounced from Lowe's arm over the head of third baseman Jose Valentin for a single, allowing Chris Snyder to score.

Lowe hopped off the mound in pain and crumpled to the ground near first base.

"I was numb," he said. "I had no idea whether it was serious until I had the X-rays."

Standing at his locker, Lowe wore the alarmed look of someone who had just averted a serious auto accident. But he helped himself to a plate of food before leaving for Boston, and when his teammates saw him using both hands to pry apart spareribs, everyone breathed easier.

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