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T.J. SIMERS

Lowe's playoff win is monumental

October 02, 2008|T.J. SIMERS

CHICAGO -- He wins the game, enhancing his reputation as a big-game pitcher and setting himself up for a big contract as a free agent, and the first thing out of Derek Lowe's mouth: "I want a statue like Lima.

"Lowe & Lima," he said, "the 'L boys,' " and if that's the case, throw in Loney.

The Dodgers have won a playoff game, the first since Jose Lima in 2004, only the team's second in the last 20 years, and as Manager Joe Torre put it afterward, "If I think about it, I'll get all choked up."

There's a reason why they call this place the "Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field," most everyone winning here over the last 100 years except the Cubs.

"How do I feel?" Torre said. "I've got Greg Maddux going out in the ninth inning. What a start -- it was so big winning this game."

And it starts with the starter, the argument here for the last week that Lowe would give the Dodgers the best chance to beat the Cubs, getting the start in Games 1 and 4.

"I talked to Maddux during the game and I told him, 'This is so tiring; I can't even remember what inning it is,' " Lowe said. "I didn't have an easy inning, but when we got down 2-0, I knew I had to do everything I could to keep us in there and give us a chance to win."

Lowe and Chicago starter Ryan Dempster teamed up to take the excited crowd out of the game, Dempster walking seven Dodgers and putting the crowd to sleep.

"I'm just sitting there, we're down 2-0 and James Loney is at the plate with the bases loaded and I think he's struck out," Lowe said. "I'm standing up ready to go out and pitch, and Greg grabs my jersey. 'I think he fouled it off,' he said.

"And then, bam, we're up 4-2."

Lowe took the mound in the fifth inning with the momentum, and refused to give it back. An error gave the Cubs a baserunner, but Chicago's best hitter, Derrek Lee, hit into an inning-ending double play.

In the sixth Aramis Ramirez opened with a double and Lowe threw a pair of balls to Geovany Soto, prompting pitching coach Rick Honeycutt to go to the mound.

"I know what he's doing; he's buying time for the bullpen," Lowe said. "He asked me what I wanted to throw, and I know 99% of the time when a pitching coach comes out, the next pitch is a fastball, so I wanted to throw a curve."

He did, and for a strike. The next two for strikes as well, and "that was the biggest out of the game for me," Lowe said.

The Dodgers went to the plate, and then began piling on the embarrassment, Manny Ramirez hitting a golf shot for a home run, which really wasn't his biggest at-bat of the game.

Before Loney's home run, Ramirez was behind 0 and 2 in the count, and while he had the chance to be the home-run hero, he worked Dempster for a walk. A big-time at-bat. Andre Ethier walked, and Loney looked like a goner.

"That's why you get three strikes, I guess," Loney said.

And so the Dodgers are winners, the Cubs are losers and putting two teams together looking for a change in their history, someone had to win.

"I was out there talking to myself like crazy, like Mark Fidrych in his day," said Lowe, who was ill over the weekend. "I came here Sunday, did nothing, and did nothing on Monday. It was a break in my routine, but what are you going to do? This was my chance to get a statue."

Lowe was at his very best, pitching as a prospective free agent a few years back and leading the Red Sox to a World Series.

If the Dodgers can win one of the next two games, Lowe gives them the experience and temperament to come back on three days' rest and close out the Cubs in L.A. on Sunday.

If so, he'll want the stadium named after him.

GOT WORD a sports columnist from Boston didn't like reading what Ramirez had to say Sunday on Page 2. So I checked the Boston Globe, found nothing -- only to learn it was some guy from a shopper ripping Ramirez, and Page 2 as well.

Gerry Callahan, writing in something called the Boston Herald, initially referred to me as T.J. Simers-Boras, linking me to agent Scott Boras, who will probably sue now.

Callahan wrote that Ramirez had "revealed at last his problems with Boston" to the "strangely sycophantic Simers."

Jeff Kent has called me a lot of names, but with words I understand. I had to call the daughter who went to Notre Dame to find out the meaning of sycophantic. I presume she called a friend who went to USC.

From what I gather, I'm a "yes man, flunky, fawner and flatterer," as I'm sure so many athletes in L.A. would also tell you.

The guy who writes for the shopper was really peeved and upset with what Ramirez had to say, oddly enough proving Ramirez's point that the folks who write in Boston really need to get a life.

FOLKS CONTINUE to amaze with their generosity. The Dodgers never responded to the suggestion of contributing $1,500 annually to Project Jordan on behalf of long-time Dodgers fan Margaret Williams.

But Robb Littman read about the incredible woman and her work to help kids at Jordan High School the last 45 years, and said he would donate $1,500 annually in place of a donor who had been doing so until he died. Littman said he'd also like to organize a fund-raiser, "so Project Jordan might continue as her legacy."

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T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers

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