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Lowe pitches Dodgers past Marlins for seventh straight win

MIAMI (AP) -- July was bad for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Derek
Lowe. Both have gotten off to a great start in August.

Lowe pitched seven strong innings and Kenny Lofton homered and
drove in two runs to lead the Dodgers to their seventh straight
victory, 6-2 over the Florida Marlins on Friday night.

The winning streak tied a season high for the Dodgers, who won
seven straight from May 17-25.

Lowe (9-7) won his second straight start, allowing five hits and
one run. He struck out five and walked none. It was his longest
outing since a complete game win against Seattle on June 22.

The Dodgers struggled in July, dropping 13 of 14 games after the
All-Star break, and nobody was happier to put the month behind them
than Lowe. He lost three straight starts to go along with two wins
and a no-decision.

"If you look at my numbers in July, they were as bad as
anybody's in baseball," Lowe said. "I was glad to get seven good
innings in tonight. The defense was tremendous. They made three or
four outstanding plays.

"There were a few ghosts in the back of my mind. It seemed it
had been a long time since I pitched a good game."

The Dodgers scored two runs in the second, one unearned. James
Loney tripled to center and scored on Rafael Furcal's single.
Furcal went to third on Lofton's single, then scored on an error
charged to Mike Jacobs on Anibal Sanchez pickoff throw to first.

Lofton's solo homer, his second of the year, came in the sixth
and gave the Dodgers a 3-0 lead. Lofton finished 3-for-5, including
an RBI single in the seventh.

Wilson Betemit hit a solo homer, his first as a Dodger, off
reliever Matt Herges in the seventh. Betemit was acquired on July
28 in a trade with the Atlanta Braves.

Sanchez lost his second straight start after winning four of his
first five. Sanchez (4-2) pitched six innings, allowing six hits
and three runs, two earned.

"This is two starts in a row that I struggled," Sanchez said.
"I felt very good the first two innings, but then I lost the
command that I am used to having. This is a learning experience, I
guess. You're not going to have your 'A' game every time out
there."

The Marlins had runners on second and third with no outs in the
sixth but got just one run. Lowe struck out Dan Uggla. Jacobs
scored pinch-hitter Joe Borchard with a sacrifice fly, then Lowe
retired Miguel Cabrera on a groundout.

Lowe was more like the pitcher who ran off four straight wins in
May and June, mixing his pitches and getting hitters out with his
sinker.

"He was on top of his game," Dodgers manager Grady Little
said. "His sinker was working, and he was spotting all of his
pitches. We made some good defensive plays, but mostly he stayed
strong and pitched a great game."

The Marlins had just taken two of three against the NL
East-leading New York Mets to fuel wild card talk, but Lowe cooled
them off.

"Baseball is a grind," Florida manager Joe Girardi said.
"It's August, and we're fighting for our lives. This is a good
experience for our ballclub because we're going to go through this
again."

Mostly, it was Lowe who the Marlins couldn't handle.

"He had us swinging over the top of his sinker, and that's why
he had good counts against us," Girardi said. "He kept us off
stride, and that's what good sinkerballers do."

The Dodgers added a run in the eighth on Andre Ethier's RBI
double. Uggla drove in a run in the eighth with a sacrifice fly.

"Things are going well for us now," Lofton said. "We knew we
were going to turn it around sooner or later. We're winning, and
that's that."

Game notes
Furcal's single in the second extended his hitting streak
to 11 games. ... Lofton's home run was his second since Aug. 30,
2005. ... Lofton continued his hot hand against the Marlins. He hit
.421 (16-for-38) with seven RBI in 12 games against the Marlins
last season with the Phillies. ... Sanchez was 4-0 in his first
five starts before giving up eight runs in 4 1-3 innings in an 11-5
loss at Philadelphia on Sunday.