06/29/08 9:05 PM ET
Dodgers endure shutout, injury in finale
Lowe's sharp outing not enough; Pierre exits with knee ailment
By Michael Schwartz / MLB.com
"That's as close to playoff baseball as you're going to get," Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier said of a series where runs were scarce to come by.Lackey outdueled Dodgers starter Derek Lowe on an afternoon when the Dodgers got nothing going offensively until the ninth. Lackey's day ended when he put a pair of runners on with two outs in that final frame, and Francisco Rodriguez increased the tension by walking Jeff Kent to load the bases. But Rodriguez got out of the jam by inducing a ground ball to second from James Loney for his 32nd save, tops in the Majors. "Lackey did such a great job, and Derek on our side did a sensational job, we just couldn't do anything," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre. "Basically in the ninth inning, that was our biggest offensive explosion in the last two days. It was a hell of a series. We played a very good team very tough. I was a little frustrated we couldn't finish the sweep today, but we have to feel better about ourselves after these three games." Any good feelings resulting from winning their second series of their past 11 and first against the Angels since May of 2006 may dissipate depending on the result of Juan Pierre's MRI on Monday. Pierre, who has never been on the disabled list in his nine-year career and loathes even spending time in the trainer's room, grabbed his left knee after stealing second in the fifth. The outfielder, who has started 49 straight games in the leadoff spot with Rafael Furcal out, will have the knee evaluated Monday by Dr. Neal ElAttrache when he undergoes an MRI. Pierre was not available for comment after Sunday's game. Torre said Pierre wanted to stay in the game, but the manager told him it's not important to do that if he can't go. Pierre tested himself by jogging around the infield with trainer Stan Conte and noticeably limped. The club will wait to see the results of the MRI before making a roster move, but Torre said the club would not be comfortable going more than a day with only three outfielders and infielder Luis Maza as an emergency option. Outfielder Jason Repko, hitting .277 with six homers and 29 RBIs for Triple-A Las Vegas entering Sunday, would be a likely replacement if Pierre misses an extended period of time. The loss of Pierre would leave the Dodgers without a capable leadoff hitter before Rafael Furcal's potential return from the disabled list this weekend. "He's going to be missed," Torre said of Pierre. "Hopefully he's not going to be out for any period of time." The loss dropped Lowe to 5-8, but he must feel like he has to throw a no-hitter just to get a win. On a day when he yielded just five hits and one run in seven innings, his only mistake came when he sandwiched a walk between two singles in the second. With Lackey on deck, catcher Mike Napoli capped the rally with a run-scoring single, prompting Lowe to say he lost track of where he was in the lineup and made a poor pitch. Lowe dropped to 3-4 in his last eight starts -- despite a 2.44 ERA in that span -- because the Dodgers have averaged just 3.25 runs per game for him in that time. On the season, he has been given just nine runs of support in his eight losses, with the team scoring two runs or fewer in every one of them. "I've always said, 'My job is to prevent them from scoring,'" said Lowe, trying not to pay attention to the lack of support. On the other side, the Dodgers did nothing against Lackey (6-1). He gave up just two hits in his first eight innings and struck out nine in a 120-pitch masterpiece. The only runner the Dodgers got in scoring position on him before the ninth came on Pierre's steal in an inning Lackey quickly ended by inducing a grounder off the bat of Ethier. "We're not doing anything offensively, but I think this was about him more than about us," Torre said. "You watch him, he's like a surgeon out there. He gets ahead in the count, throws the breaking ball for strikes, he locates the fastball, is able to get you out with the fastball or the ball in the dirt." Despite their anemic offense, the Dodgers can look up and see the D-backs playing .500 ball in first place in the National League West, just 2 1/2 games ahead of them. It's not hard to imagine where the Dodgers would be if they could just muster a little offense. "We're pitching great," said Blake DeWitt. "They're keeping us in every ballgame. Now we need to put runs on the board."
Michael Schwartz is an associate producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.