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Dodgers cut things closer

Lowe gives up two hits in eight innings, Ethier just misses hitting for the cycle and L.A. trails by only half a game after 7-0 victory over Diamondbacks.

September 06, 2008|Dylan Hernandez | Times Staff Writer

Derek Lowe was asked by Joe Torre to match Dan Haren.

He did better.

He outpitched him.

That wasn't hard to do Friday night, as the Dodgers pounded Haren for five runs and six hits in four innings on their way to a 7-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the opening contest of a vital three-game series at Dodger Stadium with first place in the NL West on the line.

The two remaining games of this series are the Dodgers' only two left this season against the Diamondbacks, whom they trail by only half a game, thanks to eight two-hit innings by Lowe (12-11) in the Dodgers' sixth win in a row.

"The lead helped," Lowe said of the four-run cushion he had at the end of two innings.

Most of the damage absorbed by Haren was inflicted by Andre Ethier, who drove in four of his career-high five runs with him on the mound. Ethier was five for five with a home run and two doubles, and received a standing ovation from the paid crowd of 55,270 when he collected his final hit in the eighth inning.

So, Andre, what happened?

"Two words," Ethier said. "Manny Ramirez."

Hitting in the No. 2 spot ahead of Ramirez, Ethier put the Dodgers ahead, 1-0, in the first inning with a solo shot to left, his team-leading 20th home run of the season.

An inning later, the right fielder's two-run single capped a three-run rush for the Dodgers.

Ethier extended the Dodgers' lead to 5-0 in the fourth, when a ball he drove into the right-field corner hopped into the seats for a ground-rule double that scored Russell Martin.

"You can benefit from it," Torre said of batting in front of Ramirez. "But you still have to know what to do with it."

Martin, who had a double and two walks, scored three runs. The last of Martin's runs also came on a sixth-inning double by Ethier, who was thrown out on the play as a result of stumbling while rounding second. A triple would have given Ethier the Dodgers' first cycle since 1970, but Torre noted that by drawing the attention of the Diamondbacks, Ethier assured Martin of scoring from first.

"To me, he's a complete player," Torre said. "He's grown a great deal."

That wasn't the only interesting sequence on the basepaths, as there was a Manny Being Manny moment in the first inning, when Ramirez reached first on a throwing error by third baseman Mark Reynolds. Ramirez rounded the bag, then tried to get back, but he was tagged out by first baseman Chad Tracy.

Lowe did the rest, limiting the Diamondbacks to two hits and two walks.

For Haren (14-8), the night prolonged a rough stretch that included a defeat to the Dodgers last weekend in Arizona. The All-Star right-hander, who was charged with five runs and 10 hits in six innings in his previous loss to the Dodgers, has a 6.17 earned-run average over his last seven starts.

"What helped us more than anything tonight was our patience at the plate," Torre said. "We were making Danny Haren throw a lot of pitches."

Taking the mound today for the Diamondbacks will be the other half of their suddenly not-so-magnificent pitching tandem, Brandon Webb. Hit in the chest with a line drive three starts ago, Webb has given up 14 runs in the eight innings of his last two appearances.

Noting that Randy Johnson will pitch for the Diamondbacks on Sunday, Ethier said, "They're throwing their top three guys at us in a row. If we can take them one a time and pick them off, it'll be good."

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

What's left

Remaining games for the Dodgers and Diamondbacks after this weekend's series.

*--* ARIZONA DODGERS Sept. 8-10 at San Francisco Sept. 8-10 at San Diego Sept. 12-14 Cincinnati Sept. 12-14 at Colorado Sept. 15-18 San Francisco Sept. 15-18 at Pittsburgh Sept. 19-21 at Colorado Sept. 19-21 San Francisco Sept. 22-25 at St. Louis Sept. 23-25 San Diego Sept. 26-28 Colorado Sept. 26-28 at San Francisco *--*

Source: Major League Baseball

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