LOS ANGELES -- You can't tell the Dodgers starters from relievers anymore. Derek Lowe, nothing if not an innings-eater, was out of there after three innings on Thursday night in a disaster of a start, from which the Dodgers needed a lot more. He spotted the Mets six runs in the first inning, and the Dodgers went on to a 13-9 loss that dropped them back into a first-place tie with the Padres. "It was live batting practice, that's all it really was," said Lowe, charged with nine earned runs that sent his ERA soaring from 3.05 to 3.51. "The first inning, I have no idea. I had absolutely nothing, and the result was extremely ugly. It's kind of hard to explain. They beat me around. They did anything they wanted. Obviously, I didn't do anything right."
Lowe, winless since June 22, made 41 pitches in the first inning and finished with 81 pitches in those three innings, two days after Mark Hendrickson exited his start after three innings. Lowe's departure put such a strain on the already-exhausted bullpen that Hendrickson took the mound in the eighth on one day of rest. Since the All-Star break, the bullpen has pitched 31 of 66 innings. Brett Tomko starts Friday night. "Sooner or later, we've got to get a little bit more out of our starters. This is not good enough," said manager Grady Little. "Just a very bad outing for Derek." It wasn't all Lowe's fault, as that mess of a first inning was extended by a pair of misplays by right fielder Matt Kemp. D.J. Houlton followed Lowe with two innings, then Rudy Seanez allowed back-to-back homers for the second time this week, a red flag that something is amiss with him. Roberto Hernandez made his Dodgers debut with a 1-2-3 seventh inning, and then on came Hendrickson, pressed into emergency-relief duty because Little refused to waste the weary back end of his bullpen -- Joe Beimel, Jonathan Broxton and Takashi Saito -- on another loss, as he wasted Broxton and Beimel on Tuesday night while mopping up Hendrickson's seven-run loss. So Hendrickson -- substitute starter, long reliever, former NBA player -- had to suck it up in his third appearance in six days. He allowed a home run to the first batter he faced, Carlos Beltran, but that was just in keeping with the tone of the evening. Hendrickson pitched two innings, the equivalent of a bullpen session, and Little said it was still possible the left-hander can make his scheduled start on Sunday. For all that Lowe did wrong, the opposing starter was chased even quicker. And that was former Cy Young Award winner Tom Glavine, looking for win No. 299 with leads of 6-0 and 9-4, but he couldn't retire a batter in the third inning and was charged with six runs in two-plus innings. The Dodgers' offense, which rarely scores for Lowe when he pitches well, wasted a 19-hit onslaught, with three each from Rafael Furcal, Luis Gonzalez and James Loney. The Dodgers stranded 13. Kemp somewhat atoned for his defensive mistakes with a two-run homer, and Jeff Kent had a solo shot, the latter balancing the scales after he made a huge un-veteran mistake, getting gunned down by Shawn Green trying to go from first to third on Gonzalez' first-inning single with the Dodgers trailing by four. Kent wasn't the only Dodgers veteran to forget what he was doing. With the bases loaded, one out in the third and the Dodgers trailing by four, Olmedo Saenz hit a sacrifice fly, but Nomar Garciaparra made the third out by Beltran trying to tag from second to third. If that wasn't bad enough, Garciaparra nearly did it again in the eighth inning, barely beating Beltran's throw to third when advancing from first on Loney's RBI single. "We'd just as soon use a little bit more common sense than what we did a couple times tonight," Little said of the rally-killing baserunning. "It was a strange night." Both clubs have changed hitting coaches in recent weeks -- Bill Mueller for the Dodgers and Howard Johnson for the Mets -- and judging by 22 runs on 35 hits, it's working. Nine different Mets scored runs, and seven drove them in. Ten Dodgers had hits. Former Dodgers figured prominently for the Mets. Aaron Sele was the winning pitcher with three innings of relief, and Guillermo Mota pitched the final two. Marlon Anderson had two hits and two RBIs, Green had two hits and scored two runs and Sandy Alomar Jr. had a hit.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.