Good Penny Returns

Brad Penny, after being traded by every media person from Beijing to London during the off-season, is still very much with the Dodgers and performing just the an ace of the staff is expected to. Coming off a gem against Florida, he duplicated his effort, sans strikeouts. After allowing a run in the first inning, he retired 17 Reds in a row en route to a 7-3 win.

Behind Penny's dominance, the Dodgers cruised to a 7-3 victory over Cincinnati in front of 55,776 at Dodger Stadium, using the win to stretch their lead in the N.L. West after Houston beat Arizona 10-4, San Francisco topped Colorado 4-2 and St. Louis shut out San Diego 5-0.
 N.L. West	 w-l    pct   gb
Los Angeles	21-15  .583   --
Dan Diego	19-17  .528   2.0
Arizona	        20-18  .526   2.0
San Francisco	18-18  .500   3.0
Colorado	16-21  .432   5.5
Penny allowed a one-out double to Brandon Phillips and an RBI single by Ken Griffey Jr. gave the Reds a brief, 1-0 lead. Adam Dunn worked Penny for a nine-pitch at-bat before he popped up and that was it for about the next two hours.

The big righthander retired 17 consecutive batters, while the Dodgers patched together a two-out, five-run rally in the fourth to put the win in the books.

"The biggest difference this year is he is pitching a lot more than just trying to power the ball," Dodgers manager Grady Little said after the game. "It has made a world of difference for him."

Penny went 10-2 in the first half of the 2006 season but he faded badly down the stretch, something he seemingly can avoid now.

"I'm more confident now," He said. "But I don't want to get too high or too low, because it's a long season. My curveball wasn't good last year, but it is good this year."

Penny is the first Dodgers starter to win his first five decisions since Kazuhisa Ishii won his first six in 2002.

The Dodgers got on the board in the second inning when a sacrifice fly by Andre Ethier scored Gonzalez, who had singled earlier in the inning, tying the game at 1.

Penny drew a five-pitch walk with two outs and the bases loaded, admitting that it might have been his second career walk, putting the Dodgers in front 2-1 in the fourth inning.

The odd rally included a bases-loaded, infield single by Rafael Furcal, a bloop hit by Juan Pierre that fell between two fielders and drove in two more runs, and a perfectly executed hit-and-run single by Nomar Garciaparra with Pierre breaking off first to score Furcal and give the Dodgers a 6-1 lead.

In the seventh inning, Gonzalez led off with a line drive to center field that rolled passed Josh Hamilton and went all the way to the wall. Gonzalez had a chance to go for the inside-the-park home run, but third-base coach Rich Donnelly held him up, much to Gonzalez's relief.

No matter how they came, the Dodgers' seven runs were the most since April 21.

Chin-hui Tsao, Joe Beimel and Rudy Seanez closed things out.

They have a chance to sweep the series this afternoon (Sunday) when the 'Mad Stork', Mark Hendrickson (2-0, 1.95 ERA), faces the Reds.
 Score by innings
Cincinnati	100 000 002-3
Los Angeles	010 500 10x-7

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	4  1  2  1  .228
 Valdez pr-ss	0  0  0  0  .245
Pierre cf	5  0  2  2  .285
Garciaparra 1b	5  0  2  1  .288
Kent 2b	        3  1  0  0  .289
 Martinez 2b	0  0  0  0  .176
Gonzalez lf	3  3  3  0  .274
 Clark lf	0  0  0  0  .263
Martin c	3  0  1  0  .325
Ethier rf	2  0  0  0  .269
LaRoche 3b	2  1  0  0  .267
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Seanez p	0  0  0  0  .000
Penny p	        2  1  0  1  .222
 Tsao p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Betemit 2b	1  0  0  0  .156
    Totals	30 7 10 7
    Cincinnati	33 3  6 3

 3B- Gonzalez. RBI- Ethier 2 (17), Penny (3),
Furcal (8), Pierre 2 (7), Garciaparra (21).
SF- Ethier 2. SB- Martin (5). CS- Pierre (5).
LOB- Los Angeles 8, Cincinnati 6.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Penny (5-0)	6.1  4  1-1  1  4  1.39
Tsao	        1.1  0  0-0  1  2  3.21
Beimel	        1.0  2  2-2  1  2  4.15
Seanez	        0.1  0  0-0  0  0  3.44
 T- 2:51, Att- 51,776.
Dodger Blue Notes-- After four consecutive six-innings plus performances by Penny, Randy Wolf, Derek Lowe and Brett Tomko, plans to increase the pitching staff to an even dozen is on hold. ...Jason Schmidt played catch for a second consecutive day and said he would continue to do so for the foreseeable future until being cleared to take the next step in his recovery from shoulder inflammation. ...Wilson Betemit took grounders at second base and shortstop in an effort to increase his versatility and could start at one of those positions Little said. ... Reliever/starter/reliever Hong-Chih Kuo threw two scoreless innings for Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday night. Back in the bullpen at least for now, he threw 24 pitches, allowing one hit while striking out two. ...Penny has faced 206 batters this season without allowing a home run, making him the only pitcher that has faced at least 100 batters without giving up one. ... Former Dodger catcher David Ross threw out Juan Pierre trying to steal second in the third inning, and is now 8-for-14 in that department this season.