Rough second inning dooms Dodgers

Rough second inning dooms Dodgers

MINNEAPOLIS -- On a day the Dodgers traded for a starting pitcher, Derek Lowe was hit hard Tuesday night in what he called one of his worst outings in years.

Lowe was smacked around for 12 hits and nine earned runs in just 5 1/3 innings, including a six-run second inning when Minnesota batted around, and the Dodgers offense struggled against the Twins in a 9-2 loss at the Metrodome.

"I really don't think I could have pitched that bad if I told them what was coming," Lowe said. "It was just a constant struggle through the whole game.

"And to me, it was demoralizing because of the way the last six weeks have gone. I was starting to get on some type of a roll, and they could pretty much do whatever they wanted [tonight]."

Lowe, who had earned five wins and a pair of no-decisions in his previous seven starts, fell apart in the second inning. The first eight hitters reached base, which led to six Twins runs and a deficit that was too steep for the Dodgers to overcome. The second frame was the second-most runs the Dodgers have surrendered in an inning this season.

With the bases loaded and one out, Lowe hit No. 9 hitter Jason Bartlett on the first pitch of his at-bat to walk in a run. Following a Luis Castillo single, Nick Punto lined a triple to the gap in right-center field to clear the bases. Punto then scored on a single by Joe Mauer, who went 5-for-5.

Lowe (6-4) left in the sixth inning after a batted ball hit his right foot and wrist, but manager Grady Little said it was his last hitter regardless. Lowe said he will be able to make his next start.

Little thought the Metrodome's artificial surface factored into some of the Twins' hits. Other balls were hit in the right place at the right time, he said.

"We should have had five infielders and two outfielders -- we would have been better off in that game today," Little said. "It seemed like every ball they hit went in the direction where we weren't playing. There's nothing you can do about it."

Lowe has struggled on synthetic grass his entire career. He's 6-13 with a 6.34 ERA in 64 games on artificial turf, including an 0-2 record with an 8.04 ERA at the Metrodome. The right-hander is 84-65 with a 3.45 ERA on natural grass.

But Lowe also pointed to the streaking Twins, who tallied 15 hits in the game and have won 14 of their last 15 games.

"I pitched extremely poor to a hot team and the results were about as bad as it could get," Lowe said. "It's individually about as disappointing a game I've had in years."

The Dodgers' only offense came courtesy of home runs by Nomar Garciaparra and Jeff Kent. The club was held to six hits, including just five in seven innings against Twins starter Francisco Liriano.

Garciaparra, who leads the National League with a .362 batting average, hit his 10th home run on a 1-0 count in the fourth. The long ball extends Garciaparra's hitting streak to 11 games.

Kent's home run was the 340th of his career, tying Jack Clark for 74th on baseball's all-time list. Rafael Furcal reached base three times, including a pair of singles. He advanced into scoring position twice, but never scored.

Liriano (8-1) struck out eight and retired 10 straight batters after surrendering a first-inning leadoff single to Furcal.

"He had great command of all his pitches," Kent said of the rookie left-hander.

The Dodgers, who have held at least a share of first place in the National League West for 15 of the last 18 days, fell to second after San Diego knocked off Oakland on Tuesday night. And things don't get easier Wednesday against Minnesota ace Johan Santana, who is 4-0 with a 1.25 ERA this month. The Twins have won Santana's last seven starts.

"It was just a bad game," Little said. "We just took a butt-kicking out there, but we have to come back tomorrow.

"In less than 24 hours we'll be back out there against another left-handed pitcher, but hopefully we'll be able to stay in the game a little bit longer."

Jason Brummond is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.