LOS ANGELES (AP)—Derek Lowe’s final bullpen outing a few days before his start against the Houston Astros was, in a word, awful. That didn’t bode well for a starting pitcher who hadn’t won in almost two months.
But it was a different matter once he took the mound Thursday night.
“That’s a long time not to win,” said the 34-year-old right-hander, who went 0-5 with three no-decisions between victories. “You’ve got to go out there and believe you can win. The early runs were key for me.”
Jeff Kent hit a two-run double in the first to give the Dodgers an early lead, and added two more doubles later to raise his career total to 530, putting him in 28th place on baseball’s all-time list.
Rafael Furcal had two singles and two RBIs for the Dodgers, who won their second straight game after losing 18 of their previous 24 to fall a season-high 6 1/2 games behind first-place Arizona in the NL West.
“We all know the hole we’ve put ourselves in and know the kind of baseball we have to play the rest of the way,” Lowe said. “We understand what we’re up against. It’s definitely going to be a tough task. Everyone in here believes we have the team to do it.”
Lowe (9-11) allowed five hits while walking none and striking out two. He faced 22 batters—one over the minimum—despite allowing two singles each by Mike Lamb and Craig Biggio and another by Lance Berkman. The Dodgers backed him with a season-high four double plays.
Hernandez issued one-out walks to Mark Loretta and Berkman in the ninth before Carlos Lee hit an RBI double. Lamb then reached on an error by second baseman Ramon Martinez, allowing Berkman to score, before Takashi Saito got the final two outs for his 31st save in 34 chances.
“It’s not the way I wanted to do it, but it was a win,” the 42-year-old Hernandez said. “Sometimes, I’m amazed I’m still competing at this level. I appreciate all the opportunities I’ve had. This game is about memories and going out and having fun. It’s been a heck of a ride.”
Kent passed Hall of Famers Cap Anson and Frank Robinson, who each hit 528 doubles, and Al Oliver, who hit 529.
“Those guys were great players,” Kent said. “Derek pitched a great game today and we were able to get to Wandy and set ourselves up for an easy day.”
Rodriguez (7-11) left after allowing five hits and four runs, two earned, in five innings. The 28-year-old left-hander is 6-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 12 starts at home and 1-9 with a 7.80 ERA in 12 starts on the road.
Biggio, who joined the 3,000-hit club on June 28 and is retiring at the end of the season, played his final game at Dodger Stadium and was honored in a pre-game ceremony. Biggio, who sat out the first three games of the four-game series, went 2-for-4 and received a standing ovation after popping out to the catcher in the ninth.
“It was nice. There’s nothing staged here,” Biggio said of the impromptu salute. “When the game ended, I was just looking at the field, looking at the scoreboard and knowing I’m never going to be out there again on this particular field. I mean, I’ve never taken it for granted. When you know it’s your last, you plant it in your memory bank somewhere.”
Errors by first baseman Lamb led to unearned runs in the fourth and fifth, giving the Dodgers a 4-0 lead. Kent hit a leadoff double in the fourth, and scored when Lamb booted Andre Ethier’s two-out grounder, and Furcal hit a one-out single in the fifth, took third when Lamb couldn’t come up with Pierre’s grounder, and scored on Kemp’s sacrifice fly.
Astros reliever Stephen Randolph sprained his right knee while trying to field Lowe’s sacrifice bunt in the sixth and was helped off the field. Furcal greeted reliever Trever Miller with a two-out, two-run single to make it 6-0.
Randolph was placed on the 15-day disabled list after the game. The Astros recalled RHP Juan Gutierrez from Triple-A Round Rock. … Dodgers manager Grady Little said LHP Eric Stults will be recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas and pitch Friday night against Colorado. … The Astros are 3-14 in the 17 games that Lamb has started at first base. … Kemp, in and out of the lineup since being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on June 12, batted third for the third straight game and went 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly, making him 5-for-11 with three RBIs in the three games.