MINNEAPOLIS — Derek Lowe could have pitched well Tuesday, and the Dodgers probably would have lost. He pitched terribly, and the result was a disaster.
With the Dodgers' rotation in flux, one of its anchors gave way at the most inopportune of times. The Minnesota Twins battered Lowe for nine runs and 12 hits and routed the Dodgers, 9-2, at the Metrodome.
"I really don't think I can pitch that bad if I told them what was coming," Lowe said.
Francisco Liriano could have told the Dodgers what was coming, and it might not have mattered. The Twins' wondrous rookie improved his record to 8-1, scattering five hits over seven innings, striking out eight, and mixing his 96-mph fastball with a wicked slider and fine curve.
"I was very fortunate to see Pedro [Martinez] in Boston," Lowe said. "They're very similar."
The Dodgers got six hits in all, one more than Joe Mauer had for the Twins. Mauer, who leads the majors in hitting at .389, has nine hits in 10 at-bats in the series. In two games, the Twins have outscored the Dodgers, 17-4, and outhit them, 27-12.
Johan Santana, the major league leader in strikeouts, starts for Minnesota today. The Dodgers, losers of 14 consecutive interleague road games, cannot take refuge in the National League until next week.
Matt Kemp struck out three times Tuesday. Cesar Izturis and Rafael Furcal committed errors. The Twins ran at will on left fielder Jose Cruz Jr., with Torii Hunter tagging from second base on a fly ball.
Manager Grady Little joked that he should have played five infielders and two outfielders, for all the ground balls scooting through the turf.
"I don't really buy that. I thank him for saying that," said Lowe, noting the balls were not gently placed. "I pitched extremely poor against a hot team, and the results were about as bad as you can get."
The Dodgers had no long reliever Tuesday, with Jae Seo traded and Odalis Perez making a spot start today.
So, even after the Twins scored six runs in the second inning, Lowe had to endure into the sixth. He left the game after a sharp ground ball bounced against his foot and his wrist, but Little and Lowe said there was no significant injury.
Lowe (6-4) lost for the first time since May 16. With Brett Tomko on the disabled list and Mark Hendrickson and catcher Toby Hall acquired from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Tuesday, the rotation now includes Lowe, Hendrickson, Brad Penny, Aaron Sele and rookie Chad Billingsley.
Hendrickson and Hall will join the Dodgers on Friday, with Hendrickson starting Saturday and the Dodgers bumping Sele from his scheduled weekend start.
The Dodgers are cautiously optimistic Tomko can return within two weeks, although a strained oblique muscle often lingers for longer. If General Manager Ned Colletti obtains another pitcher and/or Tomko returns, the Dodgers could cut Sele or return Billingsley to the minors.
"They may skip me," Lowe said, downcast after his performance.
The only guys who weren't downcast were the ones who weren't here. Hendrickson, the only person ever to play for the Devil Rays and Cleveland Cavaliers, said he was looking forward to his first playoff drive in basketball or baseball.
"I'm really excited to go out there," said Hall, who grew up in Whittier and saw his first major league game in Dodger Stadium. "When you put your cleats on, you have a chance to win every night, in front of 40,000-50,000 people. It's going to be weird. It's almost like a dream."
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The Dodgers acquired left-hander Mark Hendrickson from Tampa Bay along with catcher Toby Hall and $1 million in exchange for pitcher Jae Seo, catcher Dioner Navarro and a player to be named. Hendrickson's 2006 statistics:
*--* * W-L...4-8 * ERA...3.81 * Innings... 89 2/3 * Hits...81 * Runs...42 * HRs...10 * Ks...51 * Walks...34
* Last season: 11-8 record; 5.90 ERA.