LOS ANGELES -- Derek Lowe could only shake his head as he considered the events of the past several days.
The 34-year-old right-hander has avoided the disabled list during a big league career that began in 1997. And here he was, having to miss a start with 2½ weeks left in the season because of an injury that occurred while playing catch.
"It was embarrassing," Lowe said after getting a shot at redemption and making the most of it Saturday, coming through with one of his best efforts of the year to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-2.
Lowe (12-12) gave up four hits in seven innings while walking one and striking out five to join Greg Maddux and Tim Hudson as the only major league pitchers to win 12 or more games in each of the past six seasons.
By winning their second straight over Arizona and fourth in a row overall, the Dodgers moved within 3½ games of the NL West-leading Diamondbacks. They began the day 1½ games back of San Diego in the wild-card race.
Lowe had been scheduled to start Wednesday night against the Padres, but was bypassed because of a bruise to the meaty part of his hand between his thumb and forefinger. He was hurt Tuesday night while playing catch with fellow pitcher Jonathan Broxton in pregame warmups.
The hand was still swollen and slightly discolored after his 74-pitch effort against the Padres.
"There was no pain, there was no nothing," he said. "It was a freaky way to miss a start, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been.
"Everything went good."
Lowe threw Thursday, and said he knew at that time he'd be ready by Saturday.
"He was throwing a few more sliders and a couple changeups, and had command of both sides of the plate with it," Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said. "And when he's got command of his slider and can throw it in his sinker counts, it makes him doubly tough."
Los Angeles took a quick 4-0 lead against Livan Hernandez (10-10). Rafael Furcal opened the first with a single and Juan Pierre walked. Hot-hitting rookie James Loney followed with an RBI single before former Diamondback Luis Gonzalez hit Hernandez's 11th pitch of the game into the lower seats in right for his 14th homer.
"It's nice doing that against them, but it means more to get into the postseason," said the 40-year-old Gonzalez, who joined the Dodgers as a free agent this season after playing eight years in Arizona. "I'm still friends with those guys."
Andre Ethier hit a full-count pitch from Hernandez over the center-field fence with one out in the sixth for his 12th homer to make it 5-0.
Lowe blanked the Diamondbacks on three hits and a walk until Tony Clark opened the seventh with his 15th homer -- his fourth in September. Lowe bounced back to retire the next three batters.
Miguel Montero, who hit a two-out double in the fifth, was the only Arizona player to reach second base until Clark's homer.
Arizona got a run off Joe Beimel in the eighth on doubles by pinch hitters Robby Hammock and Alberto Callaspo. Broxton relieved with runners at second and third and one out and retired the next two batters.
After allowing the first five Dodgers to reach base safely on four hits and a walk, Hernandez settled down, giving up only two hits and one run after that. He came out after allowing five runs and six hits in six innings.
"It was just rough in the first," Melvin said regarding Hernandez. "He was getting behind, throwing more balls than strikes, but then after that first inning, he was as good as he was off in the first inning."
Furcal stole a career-high four bases to give him eight in the last four games and 25 this season. The only other major leaguer to steal four bases this season was Kenny Lofton, who did it June 29 for Texas against Boston.
- Arizona's Edgar Gonzalez and Los Angeles' Esteban Loaiza, two of the 13 pitchers from Mexico playing in the majors, will pitch Sunday on Mexican Independence Day.
- The Dodgers have a 9-5 record against the Diamondbacks. After Sunday's game, the teams finish their season series with three games in Arizona starting Friday night.
- Loney has 14 RBI in his last nine games, giving him 54 in 82 games.
- Even with their two straight losses to the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks have an NL-best 36-23 record since the All-Star break.