LOS ANGELES -- Giants pitcher Noah Lowry will have a new trophy for his collection after winning the National League Pitcher of the Month award for August.

"Incredible," said the left-hander of his brilliant 5-0 record and 0.69 ERA record last month. Lowry also earned Pitcher of the Week honors as a rookie a year ago. It's a testament to his pitching prowess.

But what really counts is how his August -- and that of ace Jason Schmidt's recent unbeaten string -- helped jump-start San Francisco's run for the NL West division flag.

On Aug. 11, the Giants were seemingly locked in fourth place, 8 1/2 games behind the first-place Padres. Big trouble. But day by day they crept back into contention, finally reaching second place over the weekend following a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"It's nice to know we still have a chance in this thing," said Lowry, 12-11 with a 3.71 ERA. "We have a tough road ahead of us, and it's going to be a battle the whole way through. But just knowing we have a chance for first place is what it's all about.

"To go from fourth place to second and be five games out [heading into Tuesday's game against the Dodgers] is a positive feeling," said Lowry. "Down the stretch is when baseball is fun."

Even when times were difficult, and some nine players on the Opening Day roster were traded or released, Lowry admitted no one felt discouraged.

"We've always had confidence in our team, but we had some young guys and new guys [that] really helped us out," said Lowry. "New guys bring something to the table we didn't have before, and things just started to click and come together."

Although Lowry was reminded daily of his shot at winning the pitcher's monthly award, it came as a surprise.

"It's good news, but the other guys were well-deserving," he said. "In a nutshell, I had all four of my pitches working in all five starts. That's how it happens sometimes. But it wasn't just me that got those wins. I owe a big thank you to my [teammates]."

Postseason tickets: The Giants announced on Tuesday that 2005 postseason tickets will go on sale to 28,500 season-ticket holders beginning Wednesday, with fans receiving online notices.

The majority of ticket sales will be handled online through "My Giants Tickets" at sfgiants.com.

The general public will also get a chance to witness possible postseason play, as single-game tickets will be available later this month.

On deck: Right-hander Jason Schmidt is on a spectacular roll heading into Wednesday night's finale of the three-game series against the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine. He's 5-0 with a 3.29 ERA over his last six starts and 9-3 in his last 15. While with the Giants, he's 9-2 and a 2.46 ERA in 14 starts against Los Angeles.

Balls and strikes: Pitcher Brian Cooper handed out cigars to the Giants on Tuesday after the birth of daughter, McKenna, in Glendora, Calif., on Sunday. He and wife, Erin, also have a 3-year-old son, Camden. McKenna was eight pounds, 20 ounces. ... Pitcher Matt Kinney had his contract purchased from Triple-A Fresno on Tuesday. It was the veteran's first callup to the Giants after signing a Minor League pact last offseason. At Fresno, the right-hander was 7-9 with a 5.21 ERA. ... Outfielder Jason Ellison, sidelined with an oblique strain incurred on Saturday during batting practice in Arizona, said he felt better on Tuesday as he churned on a stationary bicycle. "It hurt to cough before," he said of the left ribcage injury. "I don't know how it happened -- I thought I was in good shape."