ANOTHER LOWE POINT PITCHER GETS NO SUPPORT IN DEFEAT COLORADO 2, DODGERS 0.
At the end of an evening that capped off, and perfectly encapsulated, his season, Derek Lowe stood at his corner locker in the Dodgers clubhouse and reflected on the past six months.
It was a difficult thing to do for a player who still remembers what it was like three years ago, when he ended a season feeling the sting of champagne in his eyes.
That was when he wore a different uniform. It must have seemed like a different lifetime, too, after his latest hard-luck loss, a game in which he struggled for one inning and dominated for six others and the Dodgers fell 2-0 to the streaking Colorado Rockies in front of 45,036 on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.
The only sting Lowe feels now is the one that comes with a lost season. And in the wake of a stretch in which the Dodgers have dropped nine of 10 games, fallen completely out of playoff contention and seen their festering clubhouse disharmony become public knowledge, Lowe can only hope that all that is forgotten by next spring, when he reports to camp for the final season of his four-year, $36 million contract and what could be his last hurrah with the club.
"The thing we have to do is make sure this doesn't happen next year," Lowe said. "If you look at the guys who are under contract (for 2008), it's going to be pretty much the same team. We'll have to put aside our differences, and we'll have to play as a group, as one. We can't have this group over here and that group over there. It's up to us as players to figure that out, and I know we will.
"Everybody wants to win. There is too much talent here for us to be a .500 team over the course of sixmonths."
There also is too much talent in Lowe's sinkerballing right arm for him to be 12-14 at the end of a season in which he posted a 3.88ERA. Lowe isn't the type to point fingers, to point out the fact the Dodgers scored a grand total of 30 runs in those 14 losses, or the fact they scored a total of 14 runs in 12 of them. He would rather point to the two starts in which he lasted just three innings, or to the fact he had six starts in which he failed to go five, all of which conspired to leave him just two-thirds of an inning short of reaching 200 for what would have been the fifth time in the past six years.
But as much as Lowe tried to be the standup guy, as much he tried to take as much responsibility as he could for a Dodgers season that never came close to meeting expectations, there is no getting around the fact he was easily the unluckiest man on a roster rife with misfortune. And for the perfect example of that, one need look no farther than his final start of the season, a game in which he went seven innings and faced the minimum in six of them, allowing only an infield single by Todd Helton in the second that was quickly erased when Brad Hawpe lined into a double play.
The Rockies did manage to rough up Lowe for two runs on four mostly seeing-eye hits in the third, and that was the game on a night when the Dodgers went hitless in four at-bats with runners in scoring position and the Rockies ran their well-timed winning streak to a franchise-record 10games.
It has been that kind of season for Lowe.
"He was as good as I have ever seen him," said Rockies left fielder Matt Holliday, the likely National League Most Valuable Player, who struck out twice in three at-bats against Lowe but also drove in a run with a third-inning single.
Lowe said he won't come in from the bullpen during Sunday's season finale against last-place San Francisco, a game that will have no bearing on anything and in which the Dodgers might simply go with a long string of relief pitchers instead of subjecting staff ace Brad Penny to a meaningless start. Lowe needs to record only two outs to reach 200 innings, but he isn't interested in reaching milestones if it means special favors have to be done for him.
"You won't see me out there," he said. "If I had pitched better this year, more consistently, we wouldn't be having this conversation."
This was a far cry from Lowe's final start of 2004. That came in Game 4 of the World Series, when he pitched seven shutout innings to help Boston to its first title in 86years. With one year left on his contract, Lowe can only hope it doesn't take the Dodgers that long.
Dodgers (Loaiza 1-3) vs. Colorado (Morales 2-2), 7:10p.m., Dodger Stadium.
TV: FSN Prime Ticket.
Colorado's Yorvit Torreabla scores in the third inning as Dodgers catcher Chad Moeller awaits the throw to the plate.
David Crane/Staff Photographer