Don't Look Now; We're Trailing the Giants

Some teams just can't stand prosperity and perhaps the 2007 Dodgers are one of them. After an ugly 5-3 loss, San Francisco moved past them into first place in the N.L. West and both San Diego and Arizona crept up on the two leaders.

As the opening month of the season winds down, the National League standings are as close as a hippie convention. The Giants nine-game winning streak has taken them from 3-8 to 12-8 and into first place. Los Angeles is tied for first in the loss column but trailing by .009 points, and San Diego (1.0) and Arizona (1.5) are in the blind spot of the two leaders rear-view mirror.
 N.L. West	  w-l  gb
San Francisco	12- 8  --
Los Angeles	13- 9  --
San Diego	12-10  1.0
Arizona	        12-11  1.5
Colorado	 9-13  4.0
The Giants took all three games of the series for their first sweep in Dodger Stadium since 2002. After a 3-1 road trip Los Angeles was 2-4 in the two series at home and left them looking up at the league-leaders.

And again it was a night of miss-plays and missed opportunities that ended with Nomar Garciaparra taking a change-up down the middle for strike three. It is less an inability hit as it is an inability to hit with runners in scoring position.

In the seventh spot, Wilson Betemit doubled in three official at-bats, but his strikeout with one out and the bases loaded in the third inning was a letdown.

The Dodgers put 10 of their first 15 batters on base against a struggling Russ Ortiz but only three of them scored.

With 56,000+ fans watching in horror, the Dodgers missed an opportunity to blow the game open early and paid for their ineptness when the hatedgiants rallied to break a 3-3 tie in the eighth inning.

No one every said Juan Pierre was a threat to the memory of Tris Speaker in centerfield but the speedy outfielder is having more that his share of trouble catching balls out there.

He saw a drive tip off his glove after a long run, eventually leading to a two-run rally and the Giants' win.

He also blew squeeze play in the second inning, leaving Andre Ethier half-way between third and home with no place to hide.

Still the Dodgers led 3-0 going into the third but they wouldn't score again until the eighth.

"That game was determined in the second and third innings," Manager Grady Little said. "We had our chances."

Luis Gonzalez bounced into an inning-ending double play with two runners on in the first. After scoring two in the second, Andre Ethier was tagged out in a rundown on what would be scored as a caught stealing. Then Pierre stranded Rafael Furcal at second with a routine fly.

The third inning was even more frustrating. Singles by Jeff Kent and Gonzalez and a walk to Russell Martin loaded the bases with one out. Betemit fanned after the count had gone 3-0, and Ethier flied out.

Brad Penny needed only 85 pitches to get through six innings, and he struck out two to give him only 11 strikeouts in 32.1 innings but he is pitching very well.

He was charged with three runs, although two of those runs were aided by Ray Durham's line single off the glove of Kent at second.

"We had two balls hit off the gloves of infielders and one off the glove of an outfielder," said Little. "They're trying their best to catch the ball, take my word."

He entered the game with the second-lowest earned-run average in baseball at 1.37, but the Giants chipped away at him for three runs, getting one in the third on a double by Randy Winn and single by Dave Roberts, and adding two in the sixth on two-out RBI singles by Ray Durham and Bengie Molina.

After Penny left for a pinch-hitter with two out in the sixth and Joe Beimel was tagged with the loss set up by Ryan Klesko's bad-hop single darted past Garciaparra t first. Two runs scored in the inning aided by the long drive that just glanced off Pierre's glove in center field.

Andre Ethier pulled the Dodgers to within one run with his third home run of the season in the eighth, but Furcal, Pierre and Garciaparra went quietly in the ninth.

While Little said there would be changes in the lineup, he said they wouldn't be major changes as the Dodgers left home with a four-game losing streak and moved into Death Valley, er, San Diego for three games -- where traditionally success has been hard to come by. Lefty Mark Hendrickson (1-0, 1.62 ERA) opposes Clay Hensley (1-3, 9.45).
 Score by innings
Giants	001 002 020-5
Dodgers	120 000 010-4

 Dodgers	ab r h bi ave
Furcal ss 	5  0  2  1  .211
Pierre cf 	5  1  0  0  .263 
Garciaparra 1b 	5  0  1  1  .293
Kent 2b 	3  0  2  0  .342
Gonzalez lf	4  0  1  0  .297
Martin c	3  1  1  0  .338
Betemit 3b	3  1  1  0  .136
Ethier lf 	4  1  2  2  .246 	 
Penny p 	2  0  0  0  .200
 Saenz ph	0  0  0  0  .200
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Anderson ph	1  0  0  0  .182
 Tsao p	        0  0  0  0  .000
   Totals 	35 4 10 4
   Giants	34 5 11 5 

 2B- Martin (6), Ethier (3), 
Betemit (2). HR- Ethier (3). 
RBI- Garciaparra (17), Ethier 
2 (10), Furcal (5). SB- Pierre 
(8). CS- Ethier (3). LOB- 
Dodgers 8, Giants 6.

 Dodgers	 in  h  r-er bb so  era
Penny	        6.0  7  3-3  1  2  1.95
Beimel (1-1)	1.2  3  2-2  1  0  3.00
Broxton	        0.1  1  0-0  1  0  0.75
Tsao	        1.0  0  0-0  0  1  0.00
 HBP- Kent, Betemit, Saenz.
TS- 3:06. Att- 56,000.
Dodger Blue Notes-- Hong-Chih Kuo's simulated game was cut to 30 pitches to avoid aggravating the blisters on his left index and middle fingers. He's scheduled to pitch for Vegas on Sunday against Tacoma. Matt Kemp and Yhency Brazoban started their rehab assignments with Vegas with Kemp breaking in with a triple, a homer and four RBI. He could rejoin the Major League club any day. ...Jason Schmidt, disabled retroactively to April 15 with shoulder bursitis, has done nothing but let the inflammation subside. Until he is pain-free, he can only wait. ...Wilson Betemit complained about the difficulty he's had getting pitches to hit batting eighth, so manager Grady Little moved him up to seventh in the batting order. ...Thursday night was Nomar Garciaparra Bobblehead Night and Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reported that their must be a curse, since of five previous bobblehead nights, the only player to get a hit on the night his doll was given away was Cesar Izturis, who went 2-for-4 on June 1, 2005. Jeff Kent, Fred McGriff, Shawn Green and Paul Lo Duca went a combined 0-for-15 on their bobblehead nights. However, Garciaparra had a single in three trips. ...The Dodgers were hit by a season-high three pitches. ... The crowd of 56,000 was the Dodgers' fourth sellout and tied the largest regular-season attendance in stadium history.

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