L.A. Can’t Get a Break

Times Staff Writer

Russell Martin’s wrist is sore, Cesar Izturis’ continued absence is a sore point, and Derek Lowe’s earned-run average is soaring.

Problems are mounting for the Dodgers, whose euphoria over Chad Billingsley’s first major league victory lasted all of one day. They were crushed by the Arizona Diamondbacks, 8-0, Wednesday night at Chase Field and fell under .500 for the second time in three days.

Martin, the Dodgers’ productive rookie catcher, was scratched from the lineup after batting practice because of pain in his right wrist, which was struck by a pitch a night earlier. The injury does not appear serious, but Manager Grady Little said he might hold out Martin again today.


Izturis hasn’t returned after leaving the team with permission Sunday night to be with his wife in Los Angeles, where she had their second child by caesarean section Monday. Liliana Izturis is scheduled to leave the hospital today and Cesar has been caring for the couple’s 6-year-old son.

He originally thought he’d be back in time for Wednesday’s game, and a call to Dodgers officials to say he probably wouldn’t rejoin the Dodgers until they begin a homestand Friday was met by a mixed reaction.

“I’m assuming that to miss four days there is some complication,” General Manager Ned Colletti said.

Colletti understands Izturis’ desire to be with his family and also appreciates his smooth transition from shortstop to third base since coming off the disabled list. But the Dodgers have dropped six of seven since the All-Star break and lost second baseman Jeff Kent to injury two days ago.

Willy Aybar, who replaced Kent on the active roster, played third base Wednesday and committed an error that led to the Diamondbacks’ fifth run. He also made two excellent plays early in the game.

Little said he hopes Izturis -- who is batting .282 in 23 games -- can make it back for tonight’s series finale after his wife returns home. The Dodgers dropped from second to fourth in the National League West and are 3 1/2 games behind the San Diego Padres.


A reason for the slide unrelated to injuries and absences has been Lowe’s slump. He gave up five runs and 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings, and his ERA climbed to 4.19, making him the only Dodgers starter with an ERA over 4.00. Lowe (7-7) has given up 27 runs in his last 26 innings.

He sat at his locker listening to pitching coach Rick Honeycutt for 10 minutes afterward, then spoke in a whisper.

“I’m caught in the middle of when to throw what pitch,” Lowe said. “The goal is to pitch deep into a game and I haven’t done that in a month.”

He breezed through the first three innings, then crumbled in the fourth, giving up hits to four of the first five batters. The crowning blow was a two-run home run by Shawn Green that traveled an estimated 443 feet.

“Lowe’s ball was sinking more than I’ve ever seen it sink,” Green said.

Location matters, though, and the full-count pitch that Green hit over the fence was over the plate instead of on the inside corner.

“He was mis-locating some pitches,” Little said. “I saw a lot of improvement but he’s got to take it another step forward.”

Three of five batters Lowe faced in the fifth had hits and Aybar’s error put another runner aboard. The damage could have been worse, but Joe Beimel retired the side with the bases loaded.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers couldn’t muster anything against Miguel Batista (9-5), who pitched his third complete game, giving up six hits, two to Andre Ethier. The Dodgers have scored 13 runs in seven games since the All-Star break and the topic of the quiet bats silenced Little.

“The way I was brought up, if I can’t say something good, I don’t say anything at all,” he said. “So right now we aren’t talking about it.”