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Dodgers' bats come through for Lowe

Bats come through for Lowe

CINCINNATI -- If the rest of the Dodgers could consistently follow James Loney's lead, they and their offense might be in good shape.

Loney and the Dodgers found their often-absent bats and got a solid pitching performance from Derek Lowe in a 6-1 victory over the Reds at Great American Ball Park on Wednesday night.

Loney went 2-for-3 with a home run, a double, a walk and two RBIs, continuing his red-hot June and providing Los Angeles with the offensive spark it has so desperately needed throughout a lackluster road trip.

"Hopefully, we can just stay there," manager Joe Torre said. "That's the trick here -- to just try and stay there and get these good at-bats and making the pitchers work. I think we did a great job of that tonight."

The Dodgers lost five straight after beating the Padres, 7-2, on June 10. They beat the Reds, 3-1, in the series opener on Tuesday but still struggled mightily at the plate.

But Wednesday was different. Not only did Loney, who is batting .396 this month, contribute, Juan Pierre went 2-for-4, Andre Ethier went 3-for-4, and Blake DeWitt and Matt Kemp each recorded hits. The result was a surprisingly consistent offense that gave Lowe (5-6) plenty of room in which to operate.

"It was what managers like to see," Torre said, "when you score an inning, score another inning and score another inning. It was something we haven't done for a while -- sustain some kind of an offense."

Loney's recent success has keyed what offense the Dodgers have managed, and it's come after he sat down and disciplined himself on what pitches to take and what pitches to hit.

No longer does he anticipate a 2-0 fastball or a 3-1 pitch that comes close to the plate. He watches, waits and reacts.

Loney saw 21 pitches over his four at-bats, and the only time he swung at the first pitch, he hit an RBI double. His 439-foot blast in the fourth inning came on a full count and gave Lowe a little more breathing room by pushing Los Angeles' lead to 3-1.

"I've been working on my swing, getting comfortable and trying to be as consistent as I can," Loney said, "and not trying to get too happy in certain situations or certain counts or expect something all the time -- just react."

Los Angeles scored runs in the first, second, fourth, sixth and seventh innings and never trailed, giving Reds starter Bronson Arroyo fits from the very beginning.

But perhaps more important than the damage the offense did to Arroyo was the help it gave Lowe, who was scheduled to pitch in Thursday's series finale but was moved up in the rotation after Hiroki Kuroda had to miss the start with soreness in his right shoulder.

After a seven-inning, 121-pitch outing on Friday at Detroit, Lowe threw 5 1/3 innings on Wednesday and gave up just one run on three hits, with two walks and six strikeouts. He began to tire in the sixth after throwing 85 pitches.

"For me, personally, I know it's not as far as I wanted to go in the game, but I may be more proud of this game because it was an absolute struggle from pitch No. 1," Lowe said. "There are some games where the outs come pretty easily. But in these games, you're more proud of them than the ones where you go out and feel like you could do whatever you want.

"You just go out there and go as far as you can. You've got to be honest with yourself, and sometimes you don't necessarily have to be a hero out there and go as far as you can. Some days, that's all you've got."

For the Dodgers, it was enough.

Pierre singled to lead off the first and advanced to second when Jeff Kent was hit by a pitch. Pierre moved to third on a fielder's choice before scoring on a wild pitch.

The Dodgers scored again in the second when Ethier's single to left plated Kemp for a 2-0 lead.

Lowe's only mishap came when he gave up a solo home run to Edwin Encarnacion in the second that pulled the Reds to within one run. Loney's home run in the fourth made it 3-1.

Loney's RBI double in the seventh added another run before Pierre hit a one-out triple over the head of center fielder Corey Patterson. Patterson was playing shallow and could not recover in time to make the catch, allowing Ethier and Angel Berroa to score.

The win clinched for the Dodgers their first series win since they swept the Reds from May 19-21.

"Right now, road, home, another country, I don't think it really matters -- we're looking for wins," Lowe said. "We haven't gotten on a consistent roll. We had a good stretch in the middle of May, but it's been hit-and-miss. Hopefully, [on Thursday] we can end a successful trip here."

Brandon Harris 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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