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10/14/08 4:01 AM ET

Frustration boils over for Lowe

Dodgers starter has meltdown in dugout after tough first inning

LOS ANGELES -- Derek Lowe was asked how he reacted when told he was being lifted after five innings in Monday night's Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.

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"What was I going to do at that point -- throw a hissy fit?" Lowe asked. "I already did that in the first inning. I was throwing everything I could find."

Indeed, Lowe -- who was pitching on three days' rest -- had a little meltdown upon returning to the Dodgers dugout after spotting the Phillies two first-inning runs. He attacked a cooler and ripped off his jersey, generally assuring himself a prominent spot on SportsCenter and some postgame questioning.

"I just wanted to get us off to a good start and was kind of frustrated with myself, knowing the game wasn't getting off to a good start at all," Lowe explained. "It had nothing to do with anybody else but myself."

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt confirmed a report that Lowe was particularly miffed at the condition of the baseballs, which are always rubbed with mud in order to minimize the slickness of the finish. Apparently, however, with Southern California's red-flag dry conditions, the mud dries and turns to dust, making the balls even slicker.

"He was really upset with the baseballs," said Honeycutt. "That mud gets like powder and he's a 'feel' pitcher and he couldn't feel the balls. That's why he was throwing a lot of balls back. Jamie Moyer did the same thing [Sunday] night."

Lowe followed the first inning with four scoreless innings -- including a 1-2-3 fifth against the top of the Phillies order. But with the Dodgers having just tied the game, 2-2, and Ryan Howard leading off the top of the sixth, Dodgers manager Joe Torre replaced his starter with 20-year-old rookie Clayton Kershaw. Lowe was puzzled with his removal.

Monday's NLCS Game 4 wasn't the first time Derek Lowe performed -- and performed well -- on short rest in the playoffs. Here's his October short-rest resume:
SeriesGameTeam vs. OppDaysResult
2008 NLCS4LAD vs. PHI3ND, 6.0 IP, 2 ER
2004 ALCS7BOS vs. NYY2W, 6.0 IP, 1 ER
2003 ALCS2BOS vs. NYY2*L, 6.2 IP, 6 ER
2003 ALDS3BOS vs. OAK2**ND, 7.0 IP, 0/1 ER/R
* -- Followed 1.0 relief inning (Sv)
** -- Followed 1.2 relief innings (L)

"I was fine," he said, having made 75 pitches. "That [the fifth] was the inning I was looking for, an easy, 1-2-3 inning. I went down the stairs to the men's room, but when I came back, they said that's it. That's all I can give you [the media]. I wish I had more. I was in the game."

Torre defended the decision.

"I thought at that point, especially when we took the lead, because it just looked like he was fighting his emotions the whole game," Torre said. "He said he felt fine. We were probably going to get only one more inning out of him anyway pitch-count-wise, and I just decided to make the move there.

Lowe stopped short, however, of criticizing Torre's decision.

"He's the manager, he's made the decisions all year long," said Lowe, a free agent who might have pitched his last game as a Dodger. "What am I going to do at that point? Joe does what's best for the team. He didn't take me out because he thought the lead would be given up. He's a great manager who's made great decisions his whole career."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.