Nomar, Lowe help surging Dodgers end Nats' win streak

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers returned to the formula that has served them so well lately. The pitchers were stingy, and Nomar Garciaparra got another clutch hit.

Derek Lowe allowed one run over seven innings to win his second straight start and Garciaparra singled in the deciding run in the eighth inning Saturday to give the Dodgers a 3-1 victory over the Washington Nationals.

"These are fun games to be apart of," Lowe said. "You want to be in games where every pitch counts, and it's good to come out on the winning side when you do have games like that."

The Dodgers have won seven of eight, allowing one run or no runs in five of their last six. The only hiccup was Friday night's 10-4 loss to the Nationals, when Brett Tomko was chased after 4 2/3 innings.

Lowe (3-3) steadied the ship, allowing five hits, with one walk and three strikeouts. He snapped Washington's season-high four-game winning streak and prevailed in a pitchers' duel that spoiled the return of Nationals starter Shawn Hill from Tommy John surgery.

Hill allowed five hits and one run over seven innings, with two walks and three strikeouts. It was his first major-league start since 2004, when he pitched three games for the Montreal Expos and went 1-2 with a 16.00 ERA.

"It was an outstanding performance by the kid," manager Frank Robinson said. "You couldn't ask for any more than that."

The game was tied 1-1 when Hill left, but the Dodgers put together a rally in the eighth against relievers Mike Stanton (1-5) and Gary Majewski.

Rafael Furcal, who went 3-for-5, led off the inning with a one-hopper off Stanton that ate up third baseman Ryan Zimmerman for a single. Kenny Lofton bunted and beat a high throw to first for a hit. Majewski replaced Stanton, and Garciaparra, raising his average to .432 with runners in scoring position, lined a single to left to score Furcal.

Asked if he could explain Garciaparra's clutch hitting, manager Grady Little said: "No, and I'm not going to try to, either. I just want him to keep it up. He's as good as I've ever seen him."

The Dodgers added an insurance run in the ninth on throwing error by shortstop Damian Jackson, who had moved from center field at the start of the inning.

Danys Baez pitched the eighth, and Takashi Saito worked the ninth for his second save.

Second baseman Jeff Kent left in the second inning with a sprained left wrist, which he said he hurt while swinging at a pitch. He said he will probably not play Sunday and will be day-to-day after that.

For six innings, the game's only run was scored by Dodgers catcher Russell Martin, who got hit by a pitch, advanced on a bunt and came home on Lofton's sacrifice fly in the third inning.

The Nationals scored a run on Lowe in the seventh, but they should have had more. After Marlon Anderson singled to score Nick Johnson, Washington had runners on first and second with none out.

But Jackson popped up a bunt, and Zimmerman was picked off second base. Brian Schneider tapped to the pitcher to end the inning.

Jackson's inability to lay down the bunt bothered Robinson most. Jackson's explanation: A case of the blahs.

"I'm not feeling well-rested, whatever excuse you might make to the boss," Jackson said. "I'm just not feeling good today, and you just can't do that in baseball. ... I just let the team down, all the way around."

Hill was considered a top prospect before arm surgery sidelined him for all of 2005. The 25-year-old right-hander went 3-2 for Double-A Harrisburg this year and had one no-decision for Triple-A New Orleans before getting the call Friday night to fill the spot in the Nationals rotation created by Zach Day's shoulder injury.

"It feels good, after two years of rehab, that you can go out and know that it's rebuilt and it's healthy," Hill said, "and that I can hold my own up here."

Game notes
Dodgers outfielder J.D. Drew sat out with a sore shoulder. ... Schneider, who came off the disabled list Friday, threw out Andre Ethier
attempting to steal in the second inning. How much was he missed? The last unsuccessful steal attempt against the Nationals came on May 14. ... Russell returned after sitting out Friday's game as a rest day. The Dodgers are 16-2 when he starts behind the plate. ... The Nationals placed outfielder Jose Guillen on the DL with a strained right hamstring. Day was moved from the 15-day to the 60-day DL. The team said he will have exploratory surgery next week, but Day said he will seek a second opinion. Outfielder Mike Vento was brought up from New Orleans and entered the game in the ninth inning.