Los Angeles (78-72) at Pittsburgh (63-87)

Light Snow Currently: Pittsburgh, PA
Temp: 33° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Tue Sep 16, 2008
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Los Angeles Dodgers have put themselves in control of the NL West thanks to a big push over the last three weeks. Derek Lowe has more than done his part during that stretch.

Lowe looks to win his fourth straight start when he takes the mound Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates as the Dodgers try to increase their lead in the NL West.

The Dodgers (78-72) have won 13 of their last 15 games since Aug. 30 and bounced back from a 1-0 loss to Colorado on Sunday with an 8-2 win over the Pirates (63-87) on Monday. Juan Pierre and Manny Ramirez each had three hits, and Hiroki Kuroda pitched seven scoreless innings for Los Angeles’ fifth win in its last six games.

Pierre, starting a third consecutive game with Andre Ethier attending the birth of his first child, hit his first home run in 1,070 at-bats since his drive off the Phillies’ Jon Lieber on Sept. 18, 2006.

The Dodgers are 4 1/2 games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West with 12 games remaining. Seven of their last 13 wins have come on the road, where they are 33-42 for the season.

“It’s great for us,” said first baseman James Loney, who had two hits and three RBIs. “We’ve been playing consistent with timely hits and good pitching and that’s where we want to be.”

Kuroda extended an impressive stretch of starts by the Los Angeles rotation with his outing Monday. Dodgers starters are 11-1 with a 2.33 ERA in the last 15 games. Lowe (13-11 3.48 ERA) is responsible for three of those wins, posting a 0.47 ERA during that stretch.

Lowe pitched 5 1-3 innings last Wednesday against the Padres, allowing one run and three hits in a 7-2 win. He left the game after being hit in the back of the right knee by a hard one-hopper by Kevin Kouzmanoff.

“He was a little stiff,” manager Joe Torre said. “His pitch count was getting up there (86). This was going to be his last inning, but I still had to wrestle the ball away from him.”

Lowe hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any his last six starts. Since the All-Star break, he is 6-3 with a 2.83 ERA. The right-hander is 5-0 with a 3.03 ERA in five career starts against the Pirates, including four wins in Pittsburgh.

The Pirates, meanwhile, were coming off a three-game sweep of the Cardinals over the weekend in which they scored 24 runs. They had lost 17 of their previous 20 games before the sweep and on Monday reverted to their previous struggles. Against the Dodgers, Pittsburgh was shut out until Adam LaRoche hit a two-run homer in the ninth.

LaRoche is hitting .368 (14-for-38) with 14 RBIs in his last 10 games.

Pittsburgh’s Jeff Karstens (2-5, 4.46) takes the mound Tuesday after his scheduled start on Saturday was scratched because of an abscessed tooth.

Karstens has lost his last five starts and has a 7.11 ERA in those outings. He lasted three innings Sept. 7 against San Francisco, allowing eight runs— five earned—and six hits in an 11-6 loss.

The right-hander hasn’t won since he pitched a two-hitter in a 2-0 victory at Arizona on Aug. 6.

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Starting Pitchers

D. Lowe Tex vs. J. Karstens Pit
14-11 Record 2-6
3.24 ERA 4.03
147 K 23
45 BB 13
1.13 WHIP 1.34


Tuesday, Sep 16