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Dodgers Can’t Find a Remedy

Times Staff Writer

It was heartwarming in a way. Too fleeting, though, one mawkish moment smothered by an avalanche of poor pitching, stranded baserunners, hobbled key players and a disgruntled backup catcher.

A guy lying in a hospital bed called a two-run home run by Olmedo Saenz in the eighth inning that pulled the Dodgers to within one run Saturday. But the San Francisco Giants tacked on three runs in the ninth and won, 11-7, at Dodger Stadium.

Under the fuzz of anesthesia, Eric Gagne watched the game from St. Vincent Medical Center, where earlier in the day surgeons removed a chunk of a herniated disk from his lower back. Gagne called trainer Stan Johnston to say he predicted Saenz would go deep.

The euphoria was short-lived, and maybe it’s the last the Dodgers have heard from Gagne, who is out for the season and relegated to playing connect the question marks from his confounding elbow to his balky back.

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Not that they missed their former All-Star closer in a game they never led. Derek Lowe (7-5) didn’t record an out until he’d thrown 28 pitches and surrendered four runs, the last three on a home run by Ray Durham.

“Hitters will tell you how good your stuff is,” Lowe said. “Hitters are telling me what my stuff looks like.”

It wasn’t pretty in the harsh sunlight.

Lowe has started an inordinate number of day games the last two seasons -- 14 last season and nine this year. Before the game, his earned-run average in sunshine was 3.08 and the batting average against him only .231, but D-Lowe lost his day glow against the Giants, giving up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings.

“When you’re struggling, you lose confidence and try to make a perfect pitch every time,” he said. “I let the team down. We’re trying to get momentum going into the All-Star break and it was just poor pitching.”

Lowe especially regretted the 2-and-0 cut fastball Durham hit out of the park and a 2-and-1 four-seam fastball that opposing pitcher Noah Lowry hit for his first home run in 115 career at-bats.

Lowry’s blast deep into the Dodgers bullpen led off the fourth, two innings after the Dodgers cut the deficit to 4-3 with four hits, including a two-run single by Toby Hall, the catcher acquired June 27 from Tampa Bay along with starting pitcher Mark Hendrickson.

Russell Martin had a rare game off, and Hall delivered three hits and three runs batted in, causing TV cameras and reporters to converge on him. He used the opportunity to make it clear he isn’t happy with being a backup, although he did admit Martin “is the real deal.”

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“The situation I’m in is not what I planned on,” he said. “It’s not good. I didn’t have a choice to be traded here. I don’t have a future in L.A.”

Hall’s contract is up after the season and he’d hoped to be traded to a team that would play him every day and sign him to an extension.

“Maybe something will be done,” he said of another trade. “Until then, I’ll try to help the team win.”

The Dodgers will gladly accept any assistance Hall can provide. With second baseman Jeff Kent and center fielder Kenny Lofton sidelined again because of minor injuries, they left 13 runners on base, wasting three hits by Ramon Martinez and two each by Matt Kemp, Rafael Furcal and Nomar Garciaparra.

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“Any time you give up four runs in the first inning, it makes for an uphill battle,” Manager Grady Little said. “Every time it seemed like we got near the top, we’d slip down again.”

And they let any chance of catching the San Diego Padres before the All-Star break slip away. The Dodgers trail the Padres by two games in the National League West.


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