Washington (46-57) at Los Angeles (48-55)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Los Angeles, CA, US
Temp: 69° F
  • Game info: 4:05 pm EDT Sat Jul 29, 2006
  • TV: FOX
Preview | Box Score | Recap

A night after snapping their season-high eight-game losing streak, the Los Angeles Dodgers hope to win consecutive games for the first time in nearly a month and climb back into the tight NL West race.

They have a good opportunity to do so Saturday in the middle game of their series against the last-place Washington Nationals.

The Dodgers (48-55) routed the Nationals 13-1 on Friday for just their second win in the last 15 games and ended Washington’s six-game winning streak. Los Angeles last won consecutive games during a three-game winning streak from July 3-5, but has dropped 15 of its last 19 games.

Despite its struggles, last-place Los Angeles is only six games behind NL West-leading San Diego and 1 1/2 games behind fourth-place Colorado.

J.D. Drew ended a 142 at-bat homerless drought with a fourth-inning grand slam for the Dodgers, who also solidified their infield Friday by acquiring Wilston Betemit from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for infielder Willy Aybar, reliever Danys Baez and cash.

“He’s one of the best young players in the league,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said of Betemit. “We’re bringing him in here at this point in time to play third base. He’s versatile. He can play third, short, second, he’s a good hitter, he’s young and somebody we’ll have around for a while.”

Betemit is hitting .281 with nine homers, 30 runs and 29 RBIs in 88 games this season. He is expected to play third base, while Cesar Izturis moves to second while Jeff Kent—who is on the disabled list—recovers from an abdominal strain.

Colletti may not be done making moves before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline as he tries to re-tool a team that led the NL West as recently as July 5.

Derek Lowe (7-7, 4.18 ERA) is trying to end a personal three-game losing streak and is 0-3 with a 7.89 ERA in his last four outings. The right-hander, who has not won since July 3, yielded five runs—three earned—and seven hits with six strikeouts in 6 2-3 innings, but did not factor in Los Angeles’ 7-6 loss Monday to San Diego.

“Lowe pitched well enough to win tonight,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. “He just ran out of gas in the seventh.”

Lowe turned in one of his better performances of the season May 27 against the Nationals, whom he limited to one run and five hits over seven innings of a 3-1 win.

The Nationals (46-57) will give Michael O’Connor (3-6, 4.59) his first start against the Dodgers after skipping his last turn in the rotation to have him work on pitching mechanics. The 25-year-old rookie is trying to win his first game since June 8, going 0-3 with a 7.20 ERA in his last six starts.

The left-handed O’Connor was tagged for five runs and eight hits, including two homers, in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-6 Washington win July 18 over the Florida Marlins.

Washington is 20-33 on the road this season while hitting .234 with runners in scoring position. The Nationals also have lost 13 of their last 16 road games, getting outscored 98-54.

The Nationals are in last place in the NL East, 15 1/2 games behind the division-leading New York Mets, but only trail the Cincinnati Reds by nine games for the NL wild card.

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Starting Pitchers

M. O'Connor MIN vs. D. Lowe TEX
3-8 Record 16-8
4.80 ERA 3.63
59 K 123
45 BB 55
1.34 WHIP 1.27