Dodgers 2, Diamondbacks 0

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—Derek Lowe seemed to be the only one who didn’t think he pitched well.

“It was beyond a struggle, a game that I had to try to figure out how to get through it,” Lowe said Friday night after throwing seven effective innings for Los Angeles in a 2-0 win over Arizona that kept the Dodgers a half-game behind NL West leader San Diego.

Los Angeles catcher Russell Martin thought Lowe, who scattered five hits, walked three and struck out three, pitched great.

“He was a little fatigued, I think. But sometimes he’s maybe a little too active out there, so maybe it kept him calm,” Martin said, smiling.

Dodgers manager Grady Little appreciated Lowe’s performance, whether it was a struggle or not.

“It certainly came at a great time for us as a ballclub, and for Derek. As little as he likes to let on, he’s an outstanding athlete and has got ice water in his veins,” Little said.

Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin certainly didn’t notice if Lowe was having an off night.

“He kept us off-balance enough with his breaking ball and a couple of changeups, but he’s got a sinker going that starts out at the knees and goes to the bottom of the knee and below,” Melvin said.

J.D. Drew broke a scoreless tie with a leadoff homer in the seventh. Russell and Marlon Anderson hit consecutive doubles two outs later to make it 2-0.

The victory kept the Dodgers a half-game in front of Philadelphia for the wild card. The Padres defeated Pittsburgh 6-2, and Philadelphia beat Florida 5-2.

Drew led off the seventh with his 19th homer, driving Claudio Vargas’ 0-1 pitch into the pavilion seats in right-center. That made him 8-for-23 lifetime against the right-hander with five homers and 10 RBIs.

Two outs later, Martin doubled and Anderson doubled him home while pinch-hitting for Lowe (15-8), chasing Vargas after 105 pitches.

“I felt good out there and used all my pitches. I just missed on one pitch up and over the middle of the plate and it was a home run,” Vargas said. “Drew’s hit me good in my career, but he’s a good hitter anyway.”

Vargas (11-10) allowed two runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings. He walked one and struck out two.

Dodgers reliever Takashi Saito replaced Joe Beimel with two outs and runners on second and third in the eighth and caught Eric Byrnes looking at a fastball on the outside corner for a called third strike. Saito also pitched the ninth to record his 21st save in 23 chances, tying Yhency Brazoban’s club rookie record for saves.

Lowe and Vargas kept the opposing offenses quiet through the first six innings.

The Diamondbacks put together a mild threat in the first when Craig Counsell drew a leadoff walk and Orlando Hudson followed with an infield single. But Lowe got Luis Gonzalez to ground into a force play at second, then Byrnes grounded into a double play.

Arizona also had two on in the fifth, but Counsell grounded to first for the third out.


Despite being out of the NL West race, the Diamondbacks can affect the outcome. Besides their three-game series in Los Angeles, they have four games remaining with San Diego and three against San Francisco. … Dodgers Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, a special adviser with the club, turned 79 on Friday. Bobby Valentine, who played under Lasorda, had 79 fruit baskets delivered to Lasorda’s home, with personal messages on each from his former players. Lasorda is donating the baskets to a children’s hospital.

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