Trio of homers not enough vs. Twins

Trio of homers not enough vs. Twins

LOS ANGELES -- Cesar Izturis has been exceptional for most of this season, but now hme's like a growing number of Dodgers.

He's hurt.

The Gold Glove shortstop's right hamstring tightened during Saturday night's 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins, overshadowing three Dodgers homers and forcing Izturis out of a game four innings after a ground ball he usually gobbles up went through him. This capped a two-week span for the All-Star candidate that included an 0-for-25 batting drought.

Manager Jim Tracy said Izturis will not play in Sunday's homestand finale and, with Monday's day off, the hope is he'll recover quickly enough to play Tuesday night in Kansas City. For that to happen, Izturis will need to be more resilient than his 13 teammates who already have suffered 14 disabling injuries this year.

Derek Lowe has avoided disabling injuries all of his career, but the Dodgers starter couldn't avoid another shaky first inning that created a hole from which the Dodgers never escaped. He allowed the first three Twins hitters to reach base, and the first two scored on a single by Justin Morneau, who added a two-run homer in the third inning.

The two-out home run followed the ball that Izturis was unable to glove. It was hit by Luis Rodriguez, a moderately paced bouncer up the middle. Izturis ranged to his left as fluidly as usual and got in front of the ball, but it skipped right past him. He was initially charged with an error, but official scorer Ed Munson changed the ruling to a single, which raised eyebrows even in the Dodgers' clubhouse.

"It was a debatable play that would have put down the inning," said Tracy. "When you give a good Major League team the opportunity to take an extra at-bat, more times than not it comes back to haunt you. It did tonight, the result being a two-run home run. They're a very good club, and if you give them an extra chance you're going to pay for it."

Izturis said he felt his hamstring tighten after grounding out to second base in his first-inning at-bat.

"After that, it was a little tight and when I got ready for a pitch on defense it hurt a little bit," he said.

Izturis said he felt the injury particularly on a fifth-inning grounder by Twins leadoff hitter Lew Ford, but not on the Rodriguez grounder he missed.

"It was a tough ground ball and I don't think I had a chance anyway," he said. "It might be a tough play."

Of course, Izturis makes so many tough plays look easy that scorers, fans, teammates and a manager have come to expect perfection.

"You've got to keep going. Got to keep pitching your game, no matter what happens behind you," Lowe said, when asked about the misplay. "When you play a good team like Minnesota, it comes down to executing pitches and [Twins starter Carlos] Silva did a better job."

That point could be argued. Silva allowed three Dodgers home runs -- Jason Grabowski, Hee-Seop Choi and Jeff Kent all went deep. They were all solo shots and even though Choi's nearly cleared the right-field pavilion and landed 458 feet away, it only counted as one run. It was the second homer in three games for Grabowski and the third homer in two games for Choi.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers' defense turned three double plays behind Lowe to keep the Twins' damage at a minimum. In addition to Morneau's two-run homer in the third, Lowe served up a solo homer to Torii Hunter in the sixth inning. Lowe faced one more batter after that homer and was removed after six innings and only 72 pitches, but there was no indication of a physical problem.

Still, the most damaging runs were the two in the first inning that put the Dodgers in an early hole. Ford led off with a slow bouncer that third baseman Antonio Perez was unable to glove. Rodriguez then shot a double past Choi at first base and down the right-field line. Morneau cashed them in with a single up the middle.

Lowe's first-inning ERA this year is 5.79, compared to 3.23 from the second inning on. Overall, he has a 3.62 ERA, and is the only Dodger starter with an ERA below 4.00.

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