Penny Injured as Dodgers Roll Toward Elimination

PHOENIX, Arizona-- Brad Penny, who twice last year left games with a biceps nerve injury that finally ended his season prematurely and kept him out of action until the third week of 2005, walked off the mound in Arizona suffering only from forearm tightness -- the Dodgers hope. Penny will be re-evaluated today. Other than that it was a normal day at the ballpark, the Dodgers offense was named Choi and the dropped yet another game to the Diamondbacks, this time by a 3-2 margin.

Penny was examined by Diamondbacks physician Dr. Michael Lee. Lee suspected "fatigue, overuse and tightness in the extensor group of muscles of the forearm." The Dodgers will probably hold him out of the remainder of the season as a precautionary move.

Penny had trouble getting his shoulder loose in his previous start in San Francisco, but as that game wore on his fastball hit 99 mph. In June, the club signed him to a three-year, $25 million contract extension, and with that sort of investment in his right arm and there's nothing to gain using him again this season.

Jeff Kent, who has suffered back pain for the last few days, found after batting practice that he couldn't bend over to field ground balls. He is listed on the day by day chart.

In the meantime, the Dodgers magic number for their elimination from the playoff hunt has been trimmed to three.

Los Angeles batters struck out a dozen times, including 11 in seven innings by Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon Webb, six consecutively in the fourth and fifth innings.

Although rookie Willie Aybar banged out four hits in four trips, boosting his average to .396, he was unable to knock himself in. Hee-Seop Choi lined a ball into the Arizona indoors pool in the third inning to start and end the Dodger attack.

The fourth-place Dodgers (67-84) fell a season-worst 17 games under .500 and a season-worst nine games behind division-leading San Diego in the National League West. In two games in the BOB, they have scored three runs and struck out 19 times.

With 11 games remaining in a long-lost season, they will use the final games to check out some of their newest rookies and make plans for 2006.

The Dodgers bullpen of relievers Giovanni Carrara, Franquelis Osoria, Jonathan Broxton and Yhency Brazoban were strong over the final 8.1 innings.

Carrara got out of the two-on, one out mess he inherited from Penny, but gave up a two-run blast to Troy Glaus that tied the game in the third. Osoria drew the loss when he allowed Chad Tracy's go-ahead triple with one out in the fifth. Osoria stranded Tracy at third and the Diamondbacks had no runners move past first base after that. Brazoban appeared in his 100th game as a rookie over two seasons.

After Choi's home run with two out in the third inning, Los Angeles was held to four singles, two of them negated by double-play grounders.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Although backup catcher Paul Bako has missed the final four months of the season after knee surgery, general manager Paul DePodesta said he is open to re-signing Bako this winter, casting further doubt on the future of Jason Phillips. The Dodgers acquired Phillips from the New York Mets on March 20 for pitcher Kaz Ishii, but he lost his regular job on July 29 when prospect Dioner Navarro was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas, primarily because opposing teams were running wild on Phillips. Prospect Russell Martin seems still a year away from the big leagues, and Navarro is almost certain to be the regular catcher at the start of next season. DePodesta wouldn't comment directly on the issue. …Delwyn Young, the second baseman who Triple-A Las Vegas manager Jerry Royster said is the best hitting prospect in the organization, is in the instructional league trying to learn to play the outfield. "He has the tools to be the best hitter we have because he has something you can't teach -- bat speed," Royster, who managed Young after his June 30 promotion from Double-A Jacksonville, told "We have some very good hitters in the organization. [Joel] Guzman and [Andy] LaRoche have the power, [Tony] Abreu is a slappy guy who will hit. But Young can be the best, without a doubt, it's not even close." Tony Abreu is considered a better defensive prospect at second base than Young and has a Major League bat, predicating Young's possible move to the outfield, where the organization is slim in top prospects. …Manager Jim Tracy would like to see how Hong-Chih Kuo's twice-repaired left elbow would bounce back if used on consecutive days. …Odalis Perez, disabled since Aug. 18 with a strained oblique muscle, threw a 62-pitch bullpen session and could be activated soon. …Jeff Weaver starts the final game of the series in Arizona tonight.