Dodgers fall to Derek Lowe and Braves

Russell Martin blamed himself for the outcome. So did Orlando Hudson and Randy Wolf.

But in a game with as many pivotal moments as the Dodgers' 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday, could any of them reasonably be held accountable as the primary cause of defeat, especially when a few inches here and there spelled the difference between success and failure?

"It was just weird," Manager Joe Torre said. "It felt like we let one get away."

Where to start? How about the first inning?

That was when Andre Ethier sent the ball screaming down the right-field line for an apparent double, only for first base umpire Scott Barry to rule the ball foul. Television replays indicated it was fair.

Ethier screamed at Barry on his way back to the batter's back and grounded out on the next pitch thrown to him by former Dodgers ace Derek Lowe.

Asked whether he watched a replay of Ethier's line drive, Torre replied, "I didn't have to. I saw it."

Ethier said he later apologized to Barry for screaming at him and that Barry, in turn, apologized to him for making the wrong call.

"You have to give him a lot of credit for owning up to that," Ethier said.

A Wolf pitch that looked like strike three to Chipper Jones in the third inning was called a ball by plate umpire Tom Hallion. Wolf's next pitch was hammered for a run-scoring double that put the Dodgers in a 1-0 hole.

"It was called a ball," said Wolf, whose older brother Jim is a major league umpire.

The Dodgers took a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning, when Casey Blake pushed home a run with a sacrifice fly and James Loney drove in another with a single off Lowe's right foot.

The Braves tied it in the fifth, but a solo home run by Ethier put the Dodgers back ahead, 3-2. The home run was Ethier's second in as many days and 22nd of the season.

The lead didn't last long. An errant pickoff attempt in the bottom of the sixth by catcher Martin let Adam LaRoche move from first to second, and he scored on a single by Diory Hernandez.

"It felt good coming out of my hand," Martin said. "It sunk at the end."

Martin squandered a chance to atone for the error moments later, when Ethier fielded Hernandez's single and made a throw that beat LaRoche to the plate. Martin couldn't hold onto the ball.

"It was going to in-between-hop me and I read that and took a step back," Martin said. "It hit my glove. I don't know why it didn't stay there."

Hernandez then scored on a double by Greg Norton to hand the Braves a 4-3 lead.

"I made a few mistakes on defense and it pretty much cost us the game," Martin said.

Hudson made a mistake on the basepaths in the sixth that had him saying something similar.

Hudson hit a double that was followed by a line drive to center field by Juan Pierre. Seeing where the ball was relative to center fielder Nate McLouth, Hudson said he told himself, "He ain't getting that."

"I thought it was going to drop, man," said Hudson, who put his head down and charged to third base.

The reaction of the crowd was what told him the ball was caught. Hudson was doubled off at second base and the inning was over.

"It cost us the game," Hudson said.

Perhaps hardened by a season in which he hasn't received much run support, Wolf (5-6) said he wasn't interested in the particulars.

"It's a loss," he said. "A loss is a loss no matter what. It just comes down to me having to do a better job."

Lowe (11-7), who limited the Dodgers to three runs and five hits over six innings, won his fourth consecutive decision.


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