Marlins 3, Dodgers 0
Angry that his 94th pitch was his worst, Lowe pounded his glove with his fist and trudged toward the clubhouse. Willingham circled the bases and disappeared in a mob of backslapping teammates at home plate.
"I was getting hit from every direction, every different angle," Willingham said. "It felt great."
Lowe (3-4) shrugged off the suggestion that shutting out the Marlins until the ninth compounded the frustration of losing.
"It doesn't matter," Lowe said. "One-nothing, 10-9, it doesn't matter. The bottom line is, I threw a pitch down the middle in a situation where you try and get a ground ball, and he hit it for a home run."
Just as good as Lowe was Florida's Sergio Mitre, making his second start following a stint on the disabled list because of a blister. Mitre pitched eight innings before departing for a pinch-hitter.
"The way those guys were hooking up, you're just looking for one run," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We were looking for half a run, really, because it's the bottom of the ninth inning."
Lowe took a four-hitter into the ninth, but Hanley Ramirez walked to lead off, and third baseman Wilson Betemit was charged with an error when he failed to come up with a grounder ranging to his left.
Miguel Cabrera tapped out to Lowe, advancing runners to second and third with Willingham due up.
"My first thought was that they were going to walk me," Willingham said.
With Aaron Boone following Willingham in the order, Dodgers manager Grady Little went to the mound but decided against an intentional walk to set up a double play.
"The game dictated to do that," Little conceded, but he liked Lowe's chances against Willingham.
"Lowe makes a living playing off hitters' aggressiveness," Little said. "That's what he's trying to do right there. He just mislocated. He misfired on one pitch in that ballgame, and that was it."
When Willingham hit the first pitch, the only question was whether it would clear the scoreboard.
"I knew the game's over," Willingham said. "I was going down to first base and watching the ball, and I wasn't even thinking home run. Then I thought, 'Go ahead and get out of the park.'"
It did, for his sixth home run, ending the tense duel after only two hours, seven minutes.
"You couldn't ask anything more from Derek Lowe," said the Dodgers' Nomar Garciaparra, who twice stranded runners at third. "He pitched an unbelievable game. That loss isn't on his shoulders, that loss is on ours, particularly me."
Mitre remained winless since April 4, 2006, and he's also winless lifetime in 12 games in Miami. But he allowed only three hits and kept answering each shutout inning by Lowe.
"You get excited seeing the guy putting up zeros, and you try to match him," Mitre said.
The Dodgers, who drove in two runs with bunts Wednesday, opened the game with a bunt single by Pierre. He stole second and took third on a flyout but was stranded there. Andre Ethier grounded out with runners at the corners to end the sixth.
The first-place Dodgers came into the game eighth in the NL in hitting, and Little hinted at a lineup shakeup when the team begins a homestand Friday.
"We'll do something different," he said. "It may start as early as tomorrow. I'm not really sure exactly what it needs to be, but we need to change the scenery a little bit."
Florida hit into two double plays, had a runner caught stealing and stranded three runners at second.
"You're not going to be able to slug it out with teams day in and day out," Boone said. "We took advantage of really our one rally today and took advantage of Sergio's dominance, too."
The game-ending homer was the second of Willingham's career. ... The Marlins still haven't been shut out this season. ... Cabrera was 0-for-14 lifetime against Lowe before his single in the fourth. ... In the first two innings of the past five games, the Marlins are 1-for-30 with one walk.