No, that’s not somebody’s personalized license plate. Derek Lowe actually recorded his 1,000th career strikeout when he got Mike Cameron looking to start the bottom of the fourth. Since giving up those three straight hits to begin the third, he has given up just one and has now retired 10 of 11 batters. But the Dodgers are doing little to take the pressure off. Doug Brocail relieved David Wells to start the sixth and retired the side on four pitches — the last one a badly place bunt by Lowe that Adrian Gonzalez turned into a 3-6-4 DP to end the inning. Brocail already has thrown nine pitches to ONE BATTER in the seventh. Dodgers 4, Padres 3, top 7
Franken-friar and regular Friar were dancing up a storm along the first-base line during the last between-innings break, so cancel the missing mascot report. Meanwhile, Derek Lowe apparently isn’t comfortable pitching with anything more than a one-run lead. Dodgers score two in the top of the first, Padres get one back in the bottom half and leave the tying run on third. Dodgers score two in the top of the third — back to back homers by Jeff Kent (it’s about time) and Gonzo — and the Padres come back with two in their half, this time leaving the tying run on second when Lowe, who had missed the strike zone with eight of his previous nine pitches, got Josh Bard to ground back to the mound for an inning-ending DP. Dodgers 4, Padres 3, top 4
Grady, who is a huge fan, was watching today’s race in his office during his pregame media session. I now know what DRAFTING is. I tell you what, for all the elitist snobs who think this a sport for unsophisticated rednecks, there is A LOT of science involved in it. A buddy of mine — and he will recognize himself when he reads this — whenever he sees NASCAR on a television, always stops and starts yelling at the TV, “TURN LEFT! TURN LEFT!” But there is way, way more that goes into this than turning left. Bill Center, another car racin’ fan who covers the Pods for the San Diego Union-Tribune, has it on his press box monitor now. He just informed me that today is the first race where SEVEN pit crew members are allowed over the wall instead of the previous max. of SIX. I asked him how that affects the dynamics of the race, and he laughed and said, “Probably not at all.” But only a true son of the South like myself can appreciate this line by the color commentator that I heard earlier today, which was delivered with a deep Southern drawl: “It’s like a big ol’ rubber bay-und. You just pull ‘er back and let it flyyyyyyyyy.” … Fifty minutes to game time, and STILL no sign of Franken-friar. I’m getting a little concerned.
Ethier still has started just once against a lefty this year. Betemit is feeling better, but Grady wants to give him one more day. Grady DID say Betemit will play tomorrow night, for some reason. And Russell Martin is in there even though it’s a day game after a night game.
2B Kent 7 for 15, but 0 HR against Wells
LF Gonzo 12 for 27 with 3 HR and 8 RBI against Wells
3B Martinez 3 for 8 with a homer against Wells
Hong-Chih Kuo makes his first rehab start at Vegas today. Yhency Brazoban, also rehabbing, will come in behind Kuo. … Larry Bigbie, who isn’t playing much because of all the younger OFs at Vegas, went 3 for 3 in last night’s loss to Tacoma and is hitting .436.
It’s cloudy and chilly right now, although it’s expected to warm up considerably by game time. Dodgers aren’t taking batting practice, and the team bus hasn’t even left the hotel yet. Brady Clark, whose early arrivals rival those of Juan Pierre, is already on the field in his BP top and uniform pants running sprints and doing lunges in short left field, parallel to the base line between second and third. The grounds crew is preparing the infield for the game, and the security team as walking into the park along the warning track. … Kudos as always to the staff at the Westin Horton Plaza, who took great care of me this weekend. The hotel itself is a tad antiseptic, but the staff there makes up for that with INCREDIBLE service, which is why I almost always stay there. Those valet guys are amazing. After calling down for my car, I have never once made it from my room to the front door without my car sitting there waiting for me instead of me having to wait for it. … You’ll find this hard to believe, but it’s 2 1/2 hours from game time, and there is NO SIGN of Franken-friar. Hope he hasn’t been kidnapped.