D-Lowe hurt

He apparently hurt himself when he had to accelerate — something he wouldn’t have had to do if he had run hard out of the box — trying to avoid getting thrown out at first on what should have been a gimme single to right — something he wasn’t able to avoid. Not only did he suffer that colossal embarrassment, but he also had to leave the game after throwing four pitches in the bottom of the inning. He responded when he got to the dugout by heaving his glove against a wall in disgust, right in front of a TV camera with the red light on. Dodgers have run themselves into two outs tonight, including Kent getting thrown out at second trying to stretch a single in the second inning. If Lowe misses significant time, it could force the front office’s hand before next week’s trading deadline. Now, the Dodgers might have to give up a couple of their top prospects to get another starting pitcher. Well, the evening is certainly going well for the boys so far. … Astros 1, Dodgers 0, bottom 5

My bad on the earlier note

I thought for sure I had seen Albers listed as a lefty — although after watching Betemit predictably whiff with runners on first and second and two outs to end the fourth, I’m still not sure why he is in the lineup — or on the team, for that matter. Dodgers are 0 for 5 with four strikeouts tonight with RISP. Nice situational hitting. Astros 1, Dodgers 0, middle 4

Another wasted inning

Dodgers got a leadoff triple from Loney in the third, but he got no farther. Matt Kemp, who for all his potential is still very much a work in progress, needed to do nothing more than put the ball in play to get Loney home with the Astros infield playing halfway. Instead, he appeared from this angle to be trying to hit the ball into the next zip code. He struck out, of course, as did Derek Lowe, who was on deck at the time. Rafael Furcal then grounded weakly to second — albeit after a prolonged at-bat that got Matt Albers to 52 pitches for the game — to strand Loney. D-Lowe, meanwhile, was working on a perfect game until Eric Muson got him for a one-out homer in the bottom of the third. Typical Lowe start, so far: zero offensive support and just enough mistakes — one, in this case — to cost himself the game. Astros 1, Dodgers 0, top 4

Tonight’s lineup

Betemit is playing in place of Nomar against Matt Albers. He has his average all the way up to .250 (7 for 28), with two doubles, a homer and two RBI, against lefties. Betemit might play 2B tomorrow night against Rodrigo Lopez. It would be his first start of the season at the position, which he played a lot in the minors.

SS Furcal
CF Pierre
C Martin
2B Kent
LF Gonzo
3B Betemit
1B Loney
RF Kemp
RH Lowe

Also, I am Rick Monday’s pregame radio guest tonight (already recorded it), so if you want to hear my words of wisdom, turn to KFWB 980-AM.

Sorry about last night

There was some computer glitch that wouldn’t allow me onto the web site last night, so no blogging. Looks like it is all fixed now, though, so back to normal — even though there isn’t a lot of news for this early in the day. I do have this little tidbit, though, from the Dodgers’ game notes: In the 12 games since the All-Star break, the Dodgers led the N.L. in hits (147) while ranking second in runs (76), RBI (72), average (.324) and on-base percentage (.377), with the Phillies leading in all those categories. The Dodgers are tied for first with four triples and tied for second with 25 doubles, while ranking third in slugging percentage (.485). Not that any of that helped them last night, when they fell back into their old, freeswinging habits against Jason Jennings, who hadn’t beaten an N.L. club all year. The Dodgers made five outs in five pitches over one stretch between the third and fourth innings. That can’t continue if they hope to have success the rest of the way.

Lineup already out

Second verse, same as the first

SS Furcal — 6gm hit streak (11-29), 11-27 vs. Jason Jennings
CF Pierre
C Martin — 4-28 since sitting out last Tues., but 7-17 vs. Jason Jennings
2B Kent –7gm hit streak and 34gm on-base streak, longest in majors ’07
LF Gonzo — 7-36 vs. Jason Jennings
3B Nomar — 6gm hit streak (11-25)
1B Loney — 6gm hit streak (8-25)
RF Ethier — 2-11 vs. Jennings
LH Hendrickson

Had lunch with Dylan Hernandez and Diamond Leung at Ninfa’s, a really good Tex-Mex chain down here that I recommend if you’re in the area. We ate at the one in the Galleria food court. I ordered the Texas combo off the lunch menu, only $9.49, and it was way more than I could eat. … By the way, thanks to Scott Andrews of Baton Rouge, La., (and, like me, a native Arkansan), a Dodgers fan who took the time to stop by the press box yesterday to say hello. It’s nice to be reminded once in a while that there are real people out there actually reading what I write, and his great compliments about my coverage of the team made my day. Thanks again, Scott, and I hope you make it to Dodger Stadium one day soon.

Dodgers 10, Astros 2

The Dodgers almost had their first complete game shutout of the season until Billingsley gave up a two-out single to Mike Lamb in the ninth, followed by a two-run homer by Luke Scott. Still, Bills managed to pitch the club’s fourth CG of the year, and the first by anyone other than D-Lowe. This could be the start of something very special for Billingsley. Jeff Kent went 4 for 4 with two doubles, the first of which was career No. 524, moving him past Willie Mays and into second place on the all-time career doubles list. Loney went yard in the eighth, a three-run jack that capped the scoring. Nomar went 3 for 5 and is on an 8-for-18 tear. The Dodgers reached the 100-game mark at 56-44, nine games better than last year’s 47-53, after which they went 41-21 the rest of the way. Pods are leading the Rockies 4-1 in the fifth inning.

Billingsley dominating

This might be the best start of his young career, and it’s coming against a pretty good lineup. Even when he gets himself into minor trouble, as he did in the fifth by giving up a leadoff single to Eric Munson and then walking Eric Bruntlett, he manages to get out of it. Morgan Ensberg lined out to left, Russ Martin picked Bruntlett off first (on a bad call by Gery Davis that went the Dodgers’ way, offsetting another bad call by Davis in the first inning when Juan Pierre clearly beat out a bunt but was called out), and Craig Biggio whiffed. Martin just doubled down the leftfield line, ending his 3 for 26 slide, then scored when Kent doubled off the wall in right-center. Dodgers 5, Astros 0, top 7

High-efficiency performance

His last time out, Chad Billingsley threw a career-high 113 pitches in five innings. Tonight, he has thrown 43 through four innings, and he has given up just two hits without allowing the Astros to get close to scoring. Dodgers have scored a couple of manufactured runs with some good situational hitting and with the help of Astros pitcher Chris Sampson, who threw a wild pitch that allowed Jeff Kent to score from third in the fourth. He also deflected a comebacker from Rafael Furcal in the fifth, leaving neither Sampson nor his teammates any chance of getting Furcal at first, and that hit started a rally that culminated in a tow-run single by Gonzo. Russell Martin is 0 for 3 and now is 3 for 27 since sitting out last Tuesday night’s game. Dodgers 4, Astros 0, middle 5

News of the day and lineup

Saito’s MRI showed nothing. He will rejoin the team during the game tonight, and there is some hope he will be ready to pitch by tomorrow. He had an injury similar to this in Japan. This one started with pain over a large area of his back and neck, and it has since subsided to a small, localized area. Saito told Grady that was exactly what happened in Japan, and the localization of the pain told him then that he was almost ready to come back. … They called up Eric Hull, sending Eric Stults out to make room for him. Stults came through for them in a spot start yesterday, and, as Grady said, “It had nothing to do with his performance.” Rather, the Dodgers had to have another arm in the pen, so they had to make room for one.

SS Furcal
CF Pierre
C Martin
2B Kent
LF Gonzo
3B Nomar
1B Loney
RF Ethier
RH Billingsley