Brad Penny came into the contest with a 5-0 record and a glossy 1.39 earned run average but after being batted around for five innings he left with his first loss, eight earned runs added to his record and a 2.54 ERA.
Trailing 2-1 in the fourth inning, Luis Gonzalez smacked a double into the left-center field gap, then with two out, Russell Martin knocked in his 26th run of the season with his 12th double. The large number of Dodger fans in attendance should have bolted from Angels Stadium at that moment because it was the high point of the evening.
Brad Penny, and his Major League-leading ERA, was attempting to become the first Dodger starting pitcher to begin the season 6-0 since Kazuhisa Ishii went 6-0 in his first six starts in 2002. Orel Hershiser was also 6-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his all-world 1988 season. The last Dodger starters to begin the year better than Ishii and Hershiser were Burt Hooton (7-0) and Fernando Valenzuela (8-0) in 1981. Matt Herges started the 2000 season 8-0 out of the bullpen, but the best starts in L.A. Dodger history are Rick Rhoden (9-0, 1976) and Ed Roebuck (10-0, 1962).
That's the history lesion for today and it comes to you only because there is nothing much positive discuss about the game itself.
Angel starter Ervin Santana took a firm grip on the Dodgers' collective throat and never lessened his grip. In front of 44,342, the biggest regular-season audience in the four-decade history of the ballpark, he came into the game leading the major league with 11 home runs given up.
presently known as Angel Stadium. Not that Santana didn't have plenty of advantages before he took the mound. He was facing a team that didn't figure to further inflate his already-gaudy home run figure - he came in tied for the major-league lead with 11 dingers allowed.
But one thing was in his favor: the Dodgers had lost 17 of their last 18 interleague games in American League parks. The record, of course, is not 18 of 19.
Scioscia, who had watched his starter craft a 5.51 ERA going into the game, said, "Ervin's stuff was outstanding early on. It was the best stuff we have seen from him in a long time, and we needed it. He threw some tough pitches in some tough situations ... and he did a good job against that lineup."
The Dodgers (25-17) saw second-place San Diego pull within two in the National League West.
The Dodgers stranded 10 more runners, leaving them just one behind Philadelphia for the major-league lead. They stayed in the game until the sixth inning when Penny gave up hits to five consecutive batters to begin the inning, after which manager Grady Little gave him the rest of the evening off. The eight earned runs allowed were the exact total he had allowed over his previous eight stars.
And the Dodgers were able to hit the ball hard but couldn't find the gaps consistently. In the fourth inning, after Gonzalez and Martin had doubled, Andre Ethier was robbed on a least a double by a leaping catch by first baseman Casey Kotchman. Jeff Kent and Juan Pierre also hit shots at an Angels fielder with runners on base during the depressing night.
After the game, Kent again stated his opposition to interleague play. "I don't like interleague play," he said. "It's great for the fans, but it's hard for the players to get motivated. It's hard to get pumped up. There is no rhythm to the game for the players. For Brad, it looked like he couldn't get into any kind of rhythm in the game. He didn't have any snap on his fastball or a lot of his off-speed breaking stuff.
"I grew up in this game not playing interleague, and all of a sudden, it's force-fed to you. This is the soapbox I am standing on. I just wish it was a little more old school. It's just too bad we're chasing the dollar rather than the integrity of the game."
Searching for positive signs in the game, one must add that Penny, without his best stuff and with a team that wasn't hitting the gaps when they did hit the ball, did not destroy the dugout/water cooler/bat rack as he might have done in years past.
"These guys have played so good behind me all year, I made more mistakes than they did tonight," he said quietly after the game. "There really weren't any hard-hit balls. I didn't locate as well as I have. I left balls over the plate a little bit. You know you're going to lose a game. Same if I give up 10 runs or one run. I was around the plate. I wasn't horrible. But everything fell in and the two walks [both scored] killed me."
The Dodgers scored only in the fourth inning off Ervin Santana on back-to-back doubles by Luis Gonzalez and Martin. The loss continued a troublesome trend for the Dodgers in Interleague road games (1-18 since 2005).
Mark Hendrickson (2-0, 2.61 ERA) opposes Jered Weaver (2-3, 3.62) and the Angels on Saturday night in a 6:05 p.m. PT contest at Angel Stadium. In a slight tweak of the rotation, Derek Lowe will pitch on Sunday, remaining on a five-day rotation, with Brett Tomko pushed back to Monday.
Score by innings Dodgers 000 100 000-1 Angels 101 105 10x-9 Dodgers ab r h bi ave Furcal ss 4 0 2 0 .301 Pierre cf 4 0 1 0 .278 Garciaparra 1b 4 0 1 0 .291 Kent 2b 4 0 0 0 .286 Saenz dh 4 0 0 0 .242 Gonzalez lf 3 1 1 0 .267 Martin c 3 0 2 1 .326 Ethier rf 4 0 0 0 .274 LaRoche 3b 4 0 1 0 .259 Totals 31 1 8 1 Angels 34 9 11 9 Error- Kent (7), Ethier (3), LaRoche (2). 2B- Gonzalez (5), Martin (12). RBI- Martin (26). CS- Furcal (2). LOB- Dodgers 10, Angels 5. Dodgers in h r-er bb so era Penny (5-1) 5.0 8 8-8 2 2 2.54 Seanez 1.0 1 0-0 0 1 2.86 Kuo 2.0 2 1-1 0 0 15.43 T- 2:39. Att- 44.342.Dodger Blue Notes-- In 10 major- league games since his May 6 call- up, third baseman Andy LaRoche already has walked more (12 times) than he did in 24 games at Las Vegas (11). That is mostly because LaRoche normally hits eighth, ahead of the pitcher. Four of the walks have been intentional, and LaRoche estimated five of the other eight involved the opposing club pitching around him to get to the pitcher. "I have never walked this much," said LaRoche, who mostly batted fourth for the 51s. "It's kind of what I have to do. I have always been really aggressive. Maybe it will be different this weekend with the DH. But I just take the same approach no matter where I'm hitting, which is to look for a pitch up in the zone and to try to square it up if I get it." ...Dodgers manager Grady Little doesn't mind Interleague Play, but he offers an option. "I'd like to see them change it so the pitchers come to bat in the American League city and the DH is used in our park," he said. "It wouldn't be a big thing in L.A., because people go see both teams, but in Pittsburgh to have the DH and at Fenway to have pitchers hit, I'd like to see that. It's all in the interest of the fans." ...Las Vegas left-handed reliever Tim Hamulack is done for the season after undergoing Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. The 30-year-old Hamulack had pitched exclusively with Las Vegas this year. He made the Opening Day roster last year over Joe Beimel and split this season between Los Angeles and Las Vegas after being acquired from the Mets with Jae Seo for Duaner Sanchez and Steve Schmoll. ...The Dodgers will offer fans the chance to spend the night at Dodger Stadium on Friday, July 27, after the Dodgers play the Rockies at Coors Field. After the game fans can play catch on the field and watch Fox Home Entertainment's DVD release "The Sandlot: Heading Home" before sleeping on the field. Fans will be asked to bring their own sleeping bags, as tents will not be permitted. The price of the event is $200 per adult and $100 per child. To register go to www.dodgers.com/sleepover.