After missing his turn in the rotation earlier this week because of an injury to his pitching hand, Derek Lowe returns to the mound Saturday, as the Los Angeles Dodgers continue an important three-game series against the NL West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks.
Lowe (11-12, 3.80 ERA) will be pitching for the first time since Sept. 6. He was expected to start Wednesday, but he was hurt playing catch during pregame warmups on Tuesday and Chad Billingsley pitched in his place against the San Diego Padres.
“I missed the ball,” Lowe explained. “We weren’t messing around. (Reliever Jonathan) Broxton never lobs anything. I just missed it. It has been a long time since I missed one.”
Lowe said the injury was to the part of his hand between his thumb and forefinger. He had swelling and some soreness, but the team expects him to be ready Saturday after he underwent treatment during the week.
“Horrible timing,” Lowe said Wednesday. “It caps off the year for me so far. It’s been a real thriller.”
The Dodgers (78-69) won four of Lowe’s last five starts before he was injured, although he posted a 4.75 ERA.
Lowe will be looking for his first win in three starts this year against the Diamondbacks (83-65). He is 2-6 with a 4.85 ERA in 11 career starts against them and has a 3.86 ERA in two losses this year.
Lowe is looking to help Los Angeles take the first two games of this series after it won Friday’s opener 7-4.
Nomar Garciaparra had three hits, including a game-tying home run in the fifth, while Andre Ethier drove in two runs to lead the Dodgers to their third straight win. Los Angeles trailed 4-2 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning before rallying.
Garciaparra, who also doubled and scored twice on Friday, has played just four games this month and just 15 since Aug. 1 because of a strained left calf. His home run was his seventh of the season and first since Aug. 4.
“Nomar had a very big game,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. “Nobody’s more proud to see that than I am. It’s a good time for him to get hot.”
The Dodgers’ win Friday moved them within 4 1/2 games of Arizona in the NL West standings. They also remained 1 1/2 games behind San Diego in the wild-card race. The Padres won 5-4 in 10 innings over San Francisco on Friday, moving them within three games of the first-place Diamondbacks.
Arizona’s loss Friday was its second in three games following a six-game winning streak.
The Diamondbacks will send Livan Hernandez (10-9, 4.78) to the mound Saturday. Hernandez allowed three runs and eight hits - including two homers - in six innings of a 5-3 win at San Francisco on Monday. He did not factor in the victory.
Hernandez has given up 31 homers this season - second most in the majors to Houston’s Woody Williams.
The right-hander is 8-12 with a 4.31 ERA in 26 career starts against the Dodgers. He is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts against them this season, pitching six strong innings both times.
The Dodgers are 8-5 against the Diamondbacks this year.