Joe Gutierrez. 25th April, 2006 - 2:20 am
Entering the seventh inning, The Los Angeles Dodgers were nine outs away from being humiliated in Minute Maid Park as Astros? starter Andy Pettitte was flirting with no-hit baseball. Down by one in the bottom of the ninth with three runners on, 1B Nomar Garciaparra exploded on a 2-2 fastball from closer Brad Lidge to give LA a three run lead and ultimately a victory.
Derek Lowe had yet another great start for the Dodgers, going seven innings allowing only a run, which came in the second inning on a double from C Brad Ausmus, scoring RF Jason Lane for the 1-0 Astro lead. Lowe would again lower his earned run average to 3.77 in the no decision.
RF J.D. Drew carried on his hitting tear, drilling his fourth home run over the right field fence. Relieving Lowe in the eighth was the impressive Takashi Saito, who struck out three Houston batters before giving up the mistake to 1B Lance Berkman. Berkman, on a 2-0 pitch, connected for a homer to deep center field to give the Astros their second one-run lead of the evening.
Last chance for the blue crew in the ninth as SS Rafael Furcal stepped to the plate. Furcal then grounded out, thus going 0-4 in the game. Next batter CF Kenny Lofton ignited the offense with a triple to center, setting up Drew. The right fielder walked and was taken out for pinch runner Jason Repko. Lidge couldn?t get his breaking ball to work as 2B Jeff Kent was now aboard with the second consecutive walk of the inning.
Now with the bases loaded full of Dodgers, Garciaparra stepped to the plate with one out. Lidge finally delivered a fastball in Nomar?s wheel house for a grand slam. Dodgers would score one more run on C Dioner Navarro's single to score LF Jose Cruz Jr.
Final Score: Dodgers 6, Astros 2
Brad Penny will take a stab at his third victory as he battles Fernando Nieve