Eric Byrnes and Miguel Montero hit two-run homers, Livan Hernandez recorded his first road win since May 17, and the NL West-leading Diamondbacks held off a late rally by the Dodgers for an 8-7 victory Saturday night.
While baseball history was being made on both coasts -- Barry Bonds' record-tying 755th home run down the freeway in San Diego and Alex Rodriguez's 500th career homer at Yankee Stadium -- the Dodgers and Diamondbacks continued their critical three-game series between NL West contenders.
Arizona widened its lead over third-place Los Angeles to three games with its 12th victory in 14 contests. The sputtering Dodgers lost for the 11th time in their last 15. The scheduled starters for the series finale are reigning NL Cy Young winner Brandon Webb and two-time All-Star Brad Penny.
"We knew this series was big, but I didn't think this was necessarily a make-or-break series for us because there's almost two months of baseball to play," Byrnes said. "But to take the series in the second game going into tomorrow, that's big. It's a good feeling. Hopefully we'll come out here and play relaxed and take one more."
Hernandez (7-7) allowed two runs -- one earned -- and five hits in six innings and struck out four. It was the first time in the right-hander's last 13 starts that he did not allow a home run. The Dodgers have hit 83, the fewest in the NL.
Juan Cruz inherited an 8-2 lead from Hernandez and surrendered four runs in the seventh, including three-run homer by Nomar Garciaparra that followed a sacrifice fly by Luis Gonzalez. Tony Pena got the last two outs in the inning, but Andre Ethier homered on the right-hander's first pitch of the eighth to make it a one-run game.
Jose Valverde nailed it down with a perfect ninth for his 33rd save in 38 chances.
"He's throwing strikes and he's going at guys," Byrnes said. "He's got a second and third pitch now that keeps everybody off his fastball, and his cutter's unbelievable. So when you have an arsenal like that, it's just a matter of going out there and getting more experience."
Derek Lowe (8-10) allowed six runs -- four earned -- and four hits over five innings and struck out four. It was the right-hander's first outing in 10 days, the result of irritation in his left hip. It forced him to miss a regular turn in the rotation for the first time in his 211 career starts.
"I was a little slow the first couple of innings and I dug us in a pretty big hole out there," said Lowe, who is 0-4 with a 5.00 ERA in seven starts since his last win on June 22. "It was more getting over the mental feeling of being in a game. It's frustrating. It's been an eternity since I've won, and I'm trying to get back on a roll."
The Dodgers defense deserted Lowe in the fifth inning, when Arizona came up with four runs to extend its lead to 6-1. The first four batters all reached base without hitting the ball out of the infield, one of them on a throwing error by rookie first baseman James Loney.
Montero made it 8-1 in the sixth with his seventh homer after a single by rookie Mark Reynolds, who made the key defensive play of the game back in the fourth when he charged in from third base on a two-out bunt by Ethier and threw him out by a step to help Hernandez escape a bases-loaded jam.
One night after Chris Snyder's eighth-inning homer helped Arizona beat the Dodgers 1-0, Byrnes gave the Diamondbacks a quick 2-0 lead with his 17th of the season. It came on a 1-1 pitch after a walk to Orlando Hudson.
"It's tough to look for anything else other than a sinker when you're facing Derek Lowe. I mean, you have to because he throws it almost 80 percent of the time," said Byrnes, who is 11-for-24 lifetime against Lowe. "I was looking for something down in the zone and I got it. I wouldn't necessarily classify it as a terrible pitch by him. It's just that every now and then you get lucky and run into one."