Dodgers Waste Great Start by Penny

It was another hot night in Washington but fans sitting close to the field enjoyed a delicious breeze from the 21 batters who struck out during the game. A baker's dozen Dodgers carried their bats back to the dugout and eight Nats followed suit but Los Angeles squandered a second consecutive strong outing by a starter, this time by Brad Penny, losing 7-0. The Dodgers scored one run, a home run by Milton Bradley, in the final two games of the series and all six runs in the series came on homers.

Washington pitcher John Patterson struck out a career-high 13 in his first complete game shutout, and Brad Wilkerson broke up a close game with a grand slam in the eighth as the Nationals smothered the Dodgers Thursday night. Patterson, who has had an 0.90 earned run average and 54 strikeouts over his last six starts, gave up only four hits and never allowed a Dodger past second base. Brad Penny nearly matched his effort, allowing two runs through seven innings but lost his fifth game against seven defeats. The game was scoreless until Washington scored twice off Penny (5-7) in the fourth inning. Vinny Castilla, who was hitting .108 over his last dozen games banged an RBI double and Cristian Guzman, who came into the game hitting .189 and collected his first RBI since June 20, scoring Wilson.

Guzman drove in another run in the eighth by singling through a draw-in infield off Duaner Sanchez, who replaced Penny with none out in the eighth inning and walked two batters to load the bases. After Patterson flied out, Wilkerson hit his seventh homer of the season to right field.

Penny allowed three runs and nine hits with eight strikeouts.

Everyone in the Dodgers starting lineup struck out at least once, while Jeff Kent, Jose Valentin, Oscar Robles and Dioner Navarro fanned twice each.

Cesar Izturis had two of the dodgers four hits. He singled in the first but erased when Milton Bradley hit into a double play. He doubled with two out in the sixth but Robles fanned.

Antonio Perez, playing second base while Kent moved to first to allowed Perez bat into the lineup, singled in the second with two out and stole second base but Valentin struck out.

Robles collected the fourth, and final, Dodger hit in the ninth, again with two out. Bradley hit the first pitch right on the screws but lined it directly to Wilkerson in center field for the final out.

The Dodgers slipped to 12 games under .500 -- 48-60 -- and dropped five games behind the Padres who outslugged Pittsburgh 12-7.

Derek Lowe (7-11, 3.99 ERA) will attempt to get the Dodgers back on track when he opens a three-game series in Pittsburgh tonight.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Jason Phillips missed the game with a badly bruised left hand that was hit by a pitch Wednesday night. Phillips said he would probably have X-rays taken Friday in Pittsburgh. Tracy said Phillips could catch in an emergency. The Dodgers are exposed with rookie Dioner Navarro the new starter and Phillips having moved to first base. Mike Edwards said he would volunteer to catch in an emergency, although he hasn't caught a game since the Instructional League in 2003. …Wilson Alvarez will finish the 2005 season and will then retire, passing on the $2 million guaranteed money he was to get in 2006. He told the front office that he would rather retire than endure the rehabilitation. He said he decided to return because the Dodgers still had a shot at the postseason.