Wells surrendered five runs and eight hits in just 2 1-3 innings in the first meeting of the season between the teams that ended tied for the best record in the NL West last year.
“It was good to see a team that I was on finally get to him,” Lowe said of Wells. “Knowing you’re facing a guy like that, you’ve got to be on your game. Over the years, going back to the Yankees-Boston games, I wouldn’t say he dominated us—but he came close. Anytime you face a guy like that, you know that nine out of 10 times it’s going to be a low-scoring game. This kind of game probably doesn’t happen very often for him.”
Luis Gonzalez had a solo homer and an RBI single off Wells (0-1). Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal, who missed the first nine games of the season with a sprained left ankle, was activated from the disabled list before the game and went 2-for-5 with two RBIs.
“I couldn’t get them out,” Wells said. “It’s like they knew what was coming—whether there was a guy on second or nobody on. I don’t know. I know I don’t tip my pitches—but if I do, I wish one of those guys would come forth and tell me. That would be an admirable thing to do.”
It was the first time Lowe and Wells started against each other when it counted since Game 5 of the 2003 AL championship series, when Wells pitched the Yankees to a 4-2 victory over Boston at Fenway Park. The last time they faced each other in a regular-season game was July 4, 2003, when the Red Sox supported Lowe with seven home runs—five of them against Wells—in a 10-3 rout at Yankee Stadium.
“He’s the same way he’s always been,” Wells said. “He’s not going to change. I mean, why change? He’s been very successful pitching like that. His thing is keeping the ball down. He has good sink, throws a backdoor slider to lefties, keeps you off balance and doesn’t really give you anything good to look at.”
Lowe (2-1) allowed seven hits and walked two. He struck out six and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh by turning Marcus Giles’ comebacker into a 1-2-3 double play. The only run off the right-hander came on a double-play grounder by Khalil Greene.
“Derek was dealing, man. He had his `A’ game on tonight,” Wells said. “He was making his pitches, getting the double-play ball when he needed it and keeping us out of the big inning.”
Garciaparra had a two-run single in the fourth against Mike Thompson, snapping a season-opening streak of 29 1-3 consecutive scoreless innings by the Padres’ bullpen.
Los Angeles took a 2-0 lead in the second on Gonzalez’s homer to left-center, and Ramon Martinez ended a 2-for-17 skid with a bloop RBI single just out of the reach of second baseman Giles in short right field. The Dodgers increased the margin to 5-0 in the third, chasing Wells with RBI singles by Gonzalez and Russell Martin.
The Padres returned to Chavez Ravine for the first time since Sept. 18, when Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew, Russell Martin and Marlon Anderson hit consecutive homers for the Dodgers in the ninth inning to tie the game and Garciaparra won it in the bottom of the 10th with a two-run shot off current teammate Rudy Seanez.
That victory temporarily put the Dodgers ahead of San Diego for the NL West lead, but both teams finished the regular season at 88-74 and the Padres captured their second consecutive division title by virtue of a 13-5 edge in the season series. The Dodgers ended up with the wild card, and both lost in the division series.
Padres starter Greg Maddux, who notched his 334th career victory on Wednesday, turns 41 years old Saturday.