Penny Worth Every Penny

The Dodgers might have quoted Mark Twain, who once said "The reports of my death is highly exaggerated" after they have taken two of three from the Padres, smacked Arizona 7-0 Friday night and moved into a tie for second place and back to within four games of the NL West lead. Brad Penny overlooked another patchwork lineup and won his fourth game, allowing three hits and striking out seven.

Cesar Izturis was out with a sore hamstring, so the Dodgers penciled in Oscar Robles and his .237 average at shortstop and in the leadoff spot, followed by Jason Repko, who was hitting .185, and had seen little action in recent games.

Penny, who received a total of two runs in his previous three quality starts, must have gulped when he saw the lineup card. He also must have tightened up his belt and determined to overcome whatever shortcomings, real or imagined, were playing behind him.

He shouldn't have worried.

Robles came up with a couple runs batted in, one on a squeeze play and the other on a ringing double.

Repko, seemingly buried in an 0-for-25 skid, banged into the wall in right field to make a wild, diving catch and added an RBI double of his own, setting the tone of the game and delighting 48,306 at Dodger Stadium.

Repko, who has been staying at Penny's house in Manhattan Beach during his rookie year, probably won't have to pay any rent in July.

Surprising rookie Mike Edwards slugged his first major league home run and veteran J.D. Drew overcame a sore knee and added a roundtripper of his own, his first Major League home run.

Penny (4-5), with just one win in his last 10 starts, worked eight sparkling innings shutout innings. After a Shawn Green single in the fourth, he mowed down retired the final 14 batters he faced for his first win since June 5.

Three of his four wins have been shutouts.

Leading 3-0 in the top of the sixth. Arizona's leadoff hitter slammed a long shot to right field. Repko raced to the warning track and snagged the ball before crashing into the fence.

The crowd roared, Penny tipped his cap toward Repko continued to blow away the Diamondbacks. Other than the first inning, Penny never allowed more than one baserunner in an inning.

Arizona starter Javier Vazquez, who has been tough for the Dodgers to handle this year, allowed no hits and two walks through the first three innings and it looked for all the world like another "here's your run, hold on to it" night for Penny.

However, Drew slugged the first pitch of the fourth inning well back into the right field pavilion and the Dodgers led 1-0.

Edwards whacked the first pitch of the fifth out of the park. Jason Phillips followed with a double and Penny moved him to third with a neat sacrifice bunt.

The Diamondbacks thought something was up and pitched out with Robles at bat. On the next pitch the Dodgers proved them right when Robles rolled a soft bunt in front of the plate and Phillips slid home with the third run of the game and the Mexican outfielder's second run batted in in 38 at-bats.

Repko slashed a double down the left-field line to make it a four-run inning -- their biggest 'explosion' since they scored four runs against Minnesota on June 10. Robles doubled home Edwards and Drew walked and scored on Jayson Werth's single to complete the Dodger scoring. in the seventh,

Dodger Blue Notes--Cesar Izturis' day off Thursday was a bummer. He got up with a sore hamstring and found out his All-Star Game lead at shortstop had disappeared. Sidelined in June because of a strained right hamstring, has but five hits in 45 at-bats, and his batting average has gone from .349 in late May. He now is hitting .275. He had a cortisone shot and almost will probably sit out tonight's game. Jeff Kent almost certainly will be the National League's starting second baseman -- and perhaps the Dodgers' only representative. …*M*A*S*H* report: Milton Bradley (finger) took 10 swings from the left side and reported mild improvement. Pitcher Wilson Alvarez (shoulder) had a successful bullpen session and could be on the verge of a rehab assignment. Ricky Ledee (hamstring) did some running but was described as being at only 60 percent. Glenn Hoffman (concussion) returned to the team but will serve as bench coach until his symptoms improve.

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