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Gonzalez leads charge against Rays

Gonzalez leads charge against Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- Luis Gonzalez knows that his family has seen plenty of 3-for-4 and 0-for-4 games.

So the Tampa, Fla., native was more than happy to give his relatives -- who numbered somewhere in the 30s -- something different and a good show on Friday night.

"It's just nice to come back," said Gonzalez, who went 2-for-5 with a homer and his second triple of the season in the Dodgers' 6-3 win over the Rays. "I got [a triple] earlier this year. I think everybody tripped in the outfield and I just kept going."

So it was nice, then, that his second triple was definitely of the legitimate sort. It scored Jeff Kent, who'd also tripled to lead off the eighth inning, and represented the fifth run for the Dodgers. He'd score on the next play for the final run.

The eighth-inning RBI was the designated hitter's 119th in Interleague Play, which saw him pass the Yankees' Jason Giambi and put him in sole possession of seventh on the all-time list.

Gonzalez also hit his ninth homer of the year in his first at-bat in the second inning to put the Dodgers up, 1-0.

"I thought it was good for Luis," said Dodgers manager Grady Little. "We're proud of the job he's been doing for us all season long. Recently, he's probably been our most effective hitter, day in and day out. We're proud of him."

Gonzalez, who'll turn 40 in September, is hitting .294 this month (20-for-68), with eight doubles, a triple, three homers and 16 RBIs.

Elsewhere in the clubhouse, starter Derek Lowe was celebrating his 10th year of Major League service, enjoying his eighth win of the season and, among other things, contemplating retirement.

"I've got my pension now. You may have seen me pitch my last game," he joked, as he showed off his anniversary present from his teammates: a bottle of Dom Perignon they'd all signed to congratulate him.

It was clear the 34-year-old was kidding, and with the way he's been pitching lately, who could blame him for wanting to stick around?

The right-hander improved to 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA in June, with 25 strikeouts compared to just three walks.

"This guy has probably pitched well enough to have 11 or 12 wins so far this season," Little said. "A lot of days, we haven't scored very many runs for him. A couple of times, he's pitched a complete game and gotten a loss.

"He certainly deserves a better fate than what he's gotten so far this year."

On Saturday night, at least, Lowe was again on his mark and rewarded for his work. He allowed one hit during his first 4 1/3 innings, while his teammates proceeded to take a 4-0 lead.

"Any time you can get runs, especially early, I think as a starter, it allows you to settle down a little bit," Lowe said. "But you still have to stay with your game plan."

Thanks to the Dodgers' early attack on Rays rookie starter Andy Sonnanstine, Lowe had a little room with which to maneuver.

Gonzalez's homer got the team going, and the Dodgers added another run in the second when James Loney was able to score from second on a routine flyout on a throwing error by shortstop Brendan Harris.

Los Angeles tacked on two more runs in the fifth and added another couple of insurance runs in the eighth.

The first run charged to Lowe came in the fifth. He'd walked the leadoff hitter, Carlos Pena -- his first and only free pass of the night -- who then scored on a single, just Lowe's second allowed hit of the game.

Lowe served up a Carl Crawford RBI triple in the sixth, and he left the game in Rudy Seanez's hands after Delmon Young's homer brought the Rays within one with two outs in the seventh.

"What bothered me is the pitch I tried to throw [to Young]," said Lowe, who fanned five and walked one. "He's a very aggressive hitter and a great closer with the count. ... It was a disappointing way to end the outing."

But the Dodgers' offense wasn't about to let one mistake from their starter ruin his -- or their -- day.

Catcher Russell Martin continued to be as aggressive on the basepaths as he has been cutting runners down on them, stealing his 12th base of the season in the first inning after he drew a walk.

His effort tied the single-season Los Angeles Dodgers record by a catcher, set by John Roseboro in 1962. Since 1900, the franchise record of 17 was set by Lew Ritter, and prior to that, Con Daily stole 18 bases in 1892 to set the all-time franchise mark.

Martin's night didn't stop there, either. The 24-year-old was responsible for half of the Dodgers' four-run lead heading into the bottom of the fifth, thanks to a single he belted to center that allowed both Rafael Furcal and speedster Juan Pierre to come home.

"Even when the game's close against these guys, it's still kind of scary, because they've been known for a lot of comeback wins, especially in this ballpark," Gonzalez said. "They've got some great young players over there. For us to get a couple of runs late there ... it's a good win for us to come in here, especially against these guys."

Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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