David Wells thought his career was over after he was released by the Padres.

Out of work for only three weeks, he was picked up by the Dodgers. And in his first outing for Los Angeles, Wells pitched five innings and got the win Sunday as the Dodgers downed the Mets, 6-2.

"When you come to a new team, they're expecting you to go out there and, I guess in this case, be a savior. And I'm not that," Wells told the Los Angeles Times.

Just as important as Wells' pitching was the 250-pounder's legs. Wells led off the fifth inning by dropping a bunt down the third-base line for a hit. That helped spark a two-run inning, which gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead.

"I knew I had no chance swinging the bat against him," Wells said of Mets starter John Maine.

Lowell at home in No. 5 spot: Terry Francona likes to use a lineup that alternates left-handed and right-handed hitters. But he also likes to win, and that is why he has been using Mike Lowell in the fifth hole behind Manny Ramirez lately.

The move has been working as Lowell had four hits Saturday against the White Sox and scored twice while driving in two to lead the Red Sox to a 14-2 win.

"Because of production, at some point you have to maybe stop being stubborn and do it," Francona told the Boston Globe.

When hitting fifth in the lineup, Lowell is batting .458 (27-for-59) with 15 runs scored and 19 RBIs. Lowell said it doesn't matter to him where he hits in the lineup, though he did admit he liked hitting fifth.

"I like it more because I think I'm going to have more opportunities to drive in runs, hitting immediately after Manny," Lowell said. "But I don't change my approach."

Rodriguez like his new digs: The storybook season for Guillermo Rodriguez continues to be written. Rodriguez, who spent 12 seasons in the Minors before making his Major League debut earlier this season, hit his first Major League home run on Sunday, helping the Giants to a 5-4 win over the Brewers and a sweep of the three-game series.

"Oh, my God, amazing," Rodriguez told the San Francisco Chronicle of his two-run blast. "Awesome game."

An injury to Eliezer Alfonzo opened the door for Rodriguez, and he has proven to be more than capable of playing at the Major League level. Manager Bruce Bochy, a former catcher himself, feels confident with Rodriguez in the game.

"It couldn't have come at a better time," said Bochy of the homer, which tied the game at 4-4. "He's done a great job and gotten better and better in his role."

Win a 'long time coming': Bobby Seay went six years between his first and second Major League victories. On Sunday, Seay worked two innings of relief and allowed no runs in the Tigers' 5-4 win over the New York Yankees.

"It's been a long time coming," Seay joked.

It's not as though he hasn't been pitching. After picking up a win with Tampa Bay in 2001, Seay has regularly seen action -- including 49 appearances this season. He just hasn't managed to come away with a victory. Detroit manager Jim Leyland said the win was definitely earned, as his pitcher lowered his ERA to 2.82 in the victory.

"Bobby Seay's performance today was absolutely tremendous," Leyland told MLB.com.

And even though it took this long, Seay was glad to take the victory.

"If I get the win, it means our team won," he said. "To see everyone joking around, happy, that's really what it's all about."

Shearn's start may earn another: Some may think that waiting 12 years to make your Major League debut is a long time. For some, perhaps it is. But for Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tom Shearn, who did finally make his debut and earned a victory on Sunday in the Reds' 9-3 victory over Florida, it was well worth the wait.

"Even if it's only one day, I can smile," Shearn told MLB.com. "This is what I've worked for my whole career. It was everything I thought it would be. The balls had tighter seams than Minor League balls. That's why I throw big-league balls in the offseason, so my curveball would work."

There were times, Shearn admits, that he came close to giving up on his dream. One such time came last year when his daughter, Riley, was born to him and his wife Kelli.

"My family's been so supportive," he said. "They said, 'You're so close. Don't give up.'"

And his performance (seven innings pitched, three runs) may get him another chance.

"That was a great audition. It probably warrants another start. He was cool as a cucumber out there. He didn't look like he had any fear. He didn't look unnerved. He was talking to somebody out there, but I don't know who it was," said Reds manager Pete Mackanin.

Escobar sets personal career mark: Kelvim Escobar established a career high in wins when he notched his 15th victory of the season in the Angels' 3-1 win over the Blue Jays on Sunday. Now, Escobar has his sights set on winning 20 games for the season.

"Twenty wins has been a dream for me since the start," Escobar told the Los Angeles Times. "That's the goal for any starter."

Escobar won his fourth straight decision. He pitched eight innings and allowed just one run and six hits against his former team.

"I feel happy because I feel I deserve it, the way I've pitched, throwing very consistently," Escobar said. "At the same time, I have to congratulate my teammates because they've done a very good job helping me out, scoring runs and playing good defense. To win games, everything has to work together. There are a lot of things as a starter that are out of your hands."

Morris standing tall: Since joining Pittsburgh nearly a month ago, much has been made of veteran Matt Morris' contributions of solid pitching and veteran leadership in the clubhouse. But according to Morris, he's learning just as much from his new team as he may be offering.

One such instance was when pitching coach Jim Colborn advised him to use his slider more, stand taller on the mound and use the added height to his benefit.

"After years of pitching, you think you're pitching like you were when you are 19 or 20 [years old], but you can never see yourself, you don't feel it until someone tells you what you look like," Morris told MLB.com. "I just made some adjustments to try to stay taller and get the ball lower in the zone."

After working six strong innings on Saturday night, Morris now has eight wins with an ERA of 4.40.

Kinsler maturing for Rangers: Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler is starting to find his swing again. Entering Saturday's game against Seattle, Kinsler had hit only one home run in August, though he also has made no errors in the field.

That is in stark contrast to April, when Kinsler hit nine homers in his first 23 games but had three errors. On Saturday, Kinsler hit a three-run home run to help Texas to a 5-3 win and he ran his errorless streak to 30 games. Kinsler made it 31 games Sunday and he went 3-for-4 with three runs scored at the plate to lift his average to .255.

"I just see him maturing, that's all," manager Ron Washington told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram of Kinsler. "He does have the capability of hitting the ball out of the ballpark, he's just not a home-run hitter. As far as his defense goes, that's a lot of hard work that he put in that cleared that up. It just didn't happen -- he put in the time."

Backe inches closer to return: Brandon Backe appears ready to rejoin the Houston Astros' starting rotation when rosters expand on Sept. 1. Backe, nearly one year removed from Tommy John surgery, threw six scoreless innings Friday night in his fifth Minor League rehab start with Triple-A Round Rock.

"That's exactly how I would have drawn it up," he told the Houston Chronicle. "If I could have a fifth start on my rehab comeback, that's the one I wanted."

Backe will make one final start for the Express on Wednesday before being activated by the Astros. Backe said he is more than ready to the return to pitching in the Major Leagues.

Barrett working way back: San Diego Padres catcher Michael Barrett put on full gear Saturday and went through catcher's drills at Shea Stadium for the first time since landing on the disabled list with "concussion-like" symptoms.

"The doctor said I need seven straight symptom-free days to play, and today's is Day 4, and I feel clear," Barrett told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I've been catching bullpens, staying active, and today's workout gave me some movement and a chance to do some baseball activities.

"I felt a little off out there. I'm glad I went out there. But my hand-eye coordination's off."

Prior faces challenges: Chicago Cubs pitcher Mark Prior would love to come back in 2008 and be an effective starter. That, though, is perhaps not as easy as it sounds -- and Prior is quite aware of that.

"Right now my main focus is getting back to throwing and feeling good about the way I feel," Prior told the Chicago Tribune. "Those decisions are kind of out of my hands. I love playing here and I love the guys and I've gotten real close with a lot of these guys here over the last few years.

"I know with the three guys locked up (Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis) and the two young guys (Rich Hill and Sean Marshall), some decisions are going to be made. ... I want to be in the mix. I want to stay here and I want to play here, but I obviously know there is a business side to it.

"So we'll see what happens. It doesn't matter where [I'm used], I'd love to play here."

As he comes back from a "significant tear" in his labrum and some wear and tear on his rotator cuff, Prior is just ready to feel right when he throws. He is expected to be ready on opening day next year.

-- Red Line Editorial