Sparked by first-inning homers from Andre Ethier and Casey Blake, the Dodgers roughed up Brandon Webb and Arizona 8-1 on Sunday, climbing within 2½ games of the staggering Diamondbacks in the NL West.
Getting Over the Hump
Brandon Webb fell in his second straight chance to win his 20th game. While stats don't always tell the full story, Webb's stats in those two games explain a lot.
1st 27 Starts
Last 2 Starts
Derek Lowe (11-11) tossed six shutout innings as the Dodgers took the final two games of a three-game series from Arizona to snap an eight-game skid -- and the two victories came against Webb, who was trying to become the first 20-game winner this season, and Dan Haren by a combined score of 14-3."It was a nightmarish start to the road trip, and you look up and there's two All-Stars coming at you," Lowe said. "You've got to give the guys a lot of credit for finding a way to beat these two guys after losing eight in a row on the road."After arriving in the desert early Friday morning from Washington, the Dodgers dropped the opener to fall 4½ games back. But they were smiling as they headed home to open a three-game series against San Diego on Monday night.Los Angeles won a road series for the first time since July 20, when they also took two of three in Phoenix."We're going to have to go on some substantial run of victories in a row at some point if we want to really catch them and pull away," Lowe said. "Hopefully this can be the start of it."The Dodgers will have to make their run without Jeff Kent, who will have knee surgery on Tuesday.The Diamondbacks hope to turn things around in a three-game series against St. Louis that opens Monday afternoon at Chase Field. They've dropped six of seven but have only lost a half game to the Dodgers in that stretch."It's been a funny year all the way around in our division as a whole," said manager Bob Melvin, whose team fell to 69-67.The Dodgers and Diamondbacks meet again for three games next weekend in Chavez Ravine.Webb (19-6) failed in his second bid to become the majors' first 20-game winner. Unable to command his fastball and sinker, Webb allowed six earned runs, eight hits and five walks in 3 1/3 innings, matching his shortest outing of the season.Webb got off to a rocky start and never recovered.Ethier, the game's second batter, hit an 0-2 pitch 401 feet into the pool beyond the right-center field wall.After a walk, a single and a fielder's choice, Blake hit a 2-0 fastball even farther -- 432 feet, off a railing above the pool to put the Dodgers ahead 4-0. The Chase Field crowd of 43,456, armed with red "BEAT LA" placards, groaned.Webb had allowed two homers in his previous 70 2/3 innings."We could see early on, it looked like he was having trouble locating his stuff, and we took advantage of it," Los Angeles manager Joe Torre said.The Dodgers added another run on Blake DeWitt's sacrifice fly in the third.In the fourth, the Dodgers led 6-0 when Russell Martin singled and scored on Ethier's double. Webb was gone after third baseman Mark Reynolds let a grounder go by him for a two-run error.In his last two starts, the seemingly invulnerable Webb has yielded 12 earned runs and 17 hits in eight innings.Melvin said location is Webb's main problem."Physically, he's fine, and watching him warm up I thought he made some significant adjustments from his last time out," Melvin said. "He's just having trouble getting his ball to go where he wants it to go."Webb left without talking to reporters.Reynolds hit a solo homer off reliever Scott Elbert in the seventh, his 26th.Lowe allowed four hits and one walk in six innings while striking out two. He won for the first time in eight starts at Chase Field.
Lowe had a scary moment when Arizona 1B Tony Clark's bat shattered in the fifth and the bat head lodged in the back of the mound. "I'm not commissioner, but you'd think he'd want to look into this because it happens too frequently, and it's not just how they break, it's the distance that they fly," Lowe said. "It's definitely scary when it's coming right at you and then it sticks in the ground. Luckily it stuck there than somewhere else." ... Newly acquired 2B David Eckstein is expected to join the Diamondbacks on Monday in time for an afternoon game against St. Louis, one of his former teams. He would be eligible for the playoff roster. ... The Diamondbacks said they would recall C Robby Hammock on Monday as part of their September callups. ... Dodgers 1B James Loney singled to left in the first to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.