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Notes: A mound of frustration

Notes: Lowe's frustrating year

PHOENIX -- Derek Lowe leads the Dodgers in one statistical category of which nobody on the club is proud.

The quality loss.

A quality start is at least six innings pitched with no more than three earned runs allowed. Because of lack of run support, Lowe has four starts in which he's qualified for the quality start but was also credited with the loss. Hence, the quality loss.

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"What can you do?" he said with a shrug of the shoulders.

Lowe has even tried reversing the run drought on his own. A .121 career hitter coming into the season, he's now batting .200. He singled in Wednesday night's 2-0 loss to the D-backs, eventually being thrown out at third on Juan Pierre's attempted sacrifice bunt.

"First slide of my big-league career," said Lowe. "First since trying to stretch for a triple for Edsel Ford High School, 1991."

In Lowe's seven losses, the Dodgers have scored a total of seven runs. They've been shut out six times this year, three when Lowe starts, including Wednesday night.

Aside from an 8-7 win-loss record, Lowe has stats that should have him under consideration for a third All-Star berth. He is tied for the National League lead in complete games and starts, is second in innings pitched, sixth in ERA and eighth in opponents' batting average.

Among the opposing pitchers he's drawn are 2006 Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb, Ben Sheets, Matt Morris, Tim Hudson and Ted Lilly.

Next up for Lowe -- Atlanta's John Smoltz.

"Looking forward to it," Lowe said.

Little on Gonzo: Manager Grady Little spent a portion of Thursday's pregame as Luis Gonzalez's publicist.

"Let's talk about Luis Gonzalez," he said. "He's had a heck of a month. Without Luis Gonzalez, I don't know where we'd be. Over the course of a year, certain players don't reach your expectations and some overachieve. He's certainly overachieved from what was expected on the field.

"He's consistent, he's aggressiveness in the clubhouse and the dugout, the way he plays every day, sometimes more so than guys 10 or 12 years younger than he is."

The 39-year-old Gonzalez leads Dodgers regulars with a .304 average, is tied for the club lead with 10 homers and 17 doubles and is second with 39 RBIs. He's played 74 of 78 games and has played at least 148 games in nine of the last 10 years.

Tsao's return uncertain: Chin-hui Tsao's return to the bullpen now seems more dependent on finding a roster spot than his health. Tsao threw a 17-pitch inning for Triple-A Las Vegas on Wednesday night and Little indicated Tsao is almost ready to return.

"We feel he's real close to pitching effectively for us and to help us win games," Little said. "We can't have but 25 players. We'll have to make a move to bring him back."

Ramon Martinez, healing from a pulled back muscle, said he likely will go out on a rehab assignment early next week.

Cy Young getting old: The Dodgers not only faced consecutive Cy Young Award winners in Webb and Randy Johnson on Wednesday and Thursday, they've played nine games (12 percent of the schedule) this year against former winners of the award.

Sun stars: The Double-A Jacksonville Suns had four players named to the Southern League All-Star team Wednesday -- Eric Cyr (6-2, 2.94), Jonathan Meloan (5-2, 2.17, 15 saves), Xavier Paul (.274, eight homers, 37 RBIs) and Juan Gonzalez (.281-4-24). Chin-lung Hu (.326-5-26) was also named to the team but will be at the XM Futures Game in San Francisco while Marshall McDougall (.263-11-47) was also placed on the squad but has since been promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas.

Coming up: Chris Young (7-3, 2.08) and the Padres oppose Hong-Chih Kuo (1-3, 6.33) on Friday night in the opener of a 10-game Dodgers homestand.

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

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