Arizona (72-80) at Los Angeles (80-73)

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Temp: 52° F
  • Game info: 10:40 pm EDT Fri Sep 22, 2006
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The Los Angeles Dodgers have a slim lead for the NL wild card. They hope Derek Lowe can help them hold onto it.

Lowe will try to win his sixth straight decision when the Dodgers open a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on Friday

With a 5-2 victory over Pittsburgh on Thursday, Los Angeles (80-73) moved one-half game ahead of idle Philadelphia for the wild card lead. The Dodgers also remained one-half game behind San Diego for the NL West lead after the Padres posted a 3-1 win over the Diamondbacks (72-80).

“At this stage of the season, it looks big,” said Los Angeles’ Olmedo Saenz, who started at first base in place of the injured Nomar Garciaparra and homered. “But every RBI and every win that we get means a lot.

“There’s no room right now for a loss. You’ve got to come out and play your best because it’s do or die. Nobody’s going to give you anything. You’ve got to earn it.”

Lowe (14-8, 3.68 ERA), who hasn’t lost since Aug. 9, is 5-0 with a 2.31 ERA in his last eight appearances—including a three-inning relief stint during a 6-5, 16-inning win over Cincinnati on Aug. 29.

The right-hander pitched well his last time out, but did not receive a decision for the second straight start. In a 2-1 win over San Diego on Sunday, Lowe allowed a run, seven hits and struck out a season-high nine over seven innings.

“Our pitcher pitched a heck of a game and came away with nothing,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said.

Lowe is 1-1 with a 5.54 ERA in three starts this season against Arizona with the lone win coming on July 3 at Dodger Stadium. Overall, he’s 1-4 with a 6.08 ERA in eight career starts versus the Diamondbacks.

The Dodgers may again be without Garciaparra, who didn’t start Thursday to rest a sore quadriceps. He flied out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning and is hitless in nine at-bats since his game-winning two-run homer in Monday’s 11-10, 10-inning victory over San Diego.

Garciaparra is not the only Dodger who is hurting. Second baseman Jeff Kent has a strained left oblique, but went 1-for-3 Thursday and has not missed a start on this homestand.

“Some guys are fighting through things right now, because they know what’s at stake,” Little said.

The Dodgers are 8-7 against the Diamondbacks this season, including a 5-1 mark at home. J.D. Drew is hitting .407 (24-for-59) with six homers and 18 RBIs against Arizona this year.

Stephen Drew—J.D.’s brother—also has hit well for the Diamondbacks against the Dodgers, batting .429 (12-for-28) with three doubles, a triple and three runs.

Arizona, which has lost 11 of its last 13 on the road, will send Claudio Vargas (11-9, 4.96) to the mound. The right-hander is 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA in his last eight starts.

He didn’t get a decision Saturday in Arizona’s 7-6, 16-inning win over Colorado. Vargas gave up four runs and seven hits with three walks over five innings.

Vargas’ only loss in three starts against the Dodgers came in a 5-4 defeat on July 5. He’s failed to get out of the fifth inning in two of those starts.

Arizona left fielder Luis Gonzalez is 2-for-20 in six games this season at Dodger Stadium.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Vargas Tor vs. D. Lowe Tex
12-10 Record 16-8
4.83 ERA 3.63
123 K 123
52 BB 55
1.41 WHIP 1.27


Friday, Sep 22