for this game

Dodgers keep pace in playoff hunt behind Lowe, Drew

Sep 23, 2006 - 5:21 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Derek Lowe finally figured out the Arizona Diamondbacks. J.D. Drew has been doing it for years.

Lowe pitched seven impressive innings and Drew snapped a scoreless tie with a seventh-inning homer as the Los Angeles Dodgers kept pace in the playoff race with a 2-0 victory over the Diamondbacks.

Marlon Anderson added an RBI double for Los Angeles (81-73), which has won back-to-back games for the first time since September 1-2. The Dodgers remain one-half game behind San Diego (81-72) in the National League West Division and one-half game ahead of Philadelphia (80-73) in the wild card race.

"It was beyond a struggle, but at the end of the day when you see the results, you feel a little better," Lowe said. "It was a game that we had to have."

One of the primary reasons Los Angeles is in position to reach the postseason is Lowe (15-8), who improved to 6-0 with a 2.01 ERA over his last nine starts. The veteran sinkerballer allowed five hits and three walks, benefiting from 13 ground-ball outs, including a pair of double plays.

"He's an outstanding athlete and he's got ice water in his veins," Dodgers manager Grady Little said. "If there's money down, he's the guy you want out there."

Lowe had been just 1-4 with a 6.08 ERA in eight lifetime starts vs. Arizona, including a 1-1 mark with a 5.54 ERA this year.

"Stats - when he's got his sinker and slider working - they go away," Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew said. "It's a different day at the park. The outcome says everything about his performance."

"We have some guys who have some pretty good numbers against him," Arizona manager Bob Melvin added. "They said that tonight his sinker was on target. When that happens, he's tough."

Lowe did not appear as if he would improve on his poor numbers against the Diamondbacks until the Dodgers broke through for two runs in the seventh.

J.D. Drew led off the inning with a shot into the right-center field seats off Claudio Vargas. It was the 19th homer of the season for Drew, whose numbers against the Diamondbacks continue to be staggering.

"It was a fastball out over the plate," Drew said. "It was a well-pitched game. Fortunately, Vargas got one out over the plate that I could drive."

In 16 meetings with Arizona this year, Drew is batting .403 (25-for-62) with seven home runs and 19 RBI. He is a lifetime .335 hitter with 16 homers and 44 RBI in 57 games against the Diamondbacks. He has five career homers against Vargas alone.

"He's hit me good my whole career," Vargas said. "One pitch, that home run, it made the difference."

Vargas recovered to get the next two hitters before Russell Martin and Anderson delivered back-to-back doubles to make it 2-0.

"Drew's a guy whose given Claudio some trouble, then Anderson gets a big hit. Other than that, Claudio pitched a good ballgame," Melvin said.

The Diamondbacks had runners on second and third with one out in the eighth, but lefthander Joe Beimel got Luis Gonzalez to foul out. Closer Takashi Saito then struck out Eric Byrnes to end the threat.

Saito also worked around a one-out single in the ninth for his 21st save, tying the franchise rookie record set by Yhency Brazoban last year.

"It's not something that I did by myself," Saito said. "The team helped me achieve it and I'm very grateful to them."

"He's done a good job over there," Melvin said. "They're probably not where they are today without him. They've mixed and matched pretty good down there in the bullpen."

Vargas (11-10), who was charged with two runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings, lost for just the second time in his last nine starts.

"When you see a 0-0 game in the seventh or eighth inning, you want to hit your spots even more," Vargas said. "He's a good pitcher. They just beat us tonight."

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