Delighted to be leaving interleague play in their rear view mirror, the Dodgers took a while to get unwound after their 5000+ mile odyssey but when the did, they fell on the Diamondbacks and scored eight times in the final four innings, winning their fifth in six games against the Arizona team, to earn an 8-1 victory and reshuffle the N.L. West standings.
Arizona now leads the Dodgers by a half game, although they are tied in the loss column. San Diego, who lost to the Giants, is a game back of the DBacks and a half behind the guys with the white hats.
Opening a seven-game stretch with the Diamondbacks (4) and San Diego Padres (3), the Dodgers got another masterful pitching performance from Brad Penny who allowed only four hits over eight innings to win his 10th of the season against a single loss.
The big righthander, after allowing an RBI double in the fourth, retired 13 of the next 14 batters and helped himself with his bat, smacking a double to kick off the winning, four-run sixth.
The offensive seems to have found themselves, some 11 days after hitting coach Eddie Murray was replaced by Bill Mueller. Who knows if the resurgence at the plate should be credited to Mueller, but it is probably just as fair as blaming Murray because the team didn't hit.
Second baseman Jeff Kent will probably be out a couple of days after he fouled a ball off the big toe on his left foot but Tony Abreu can move right over from third to second, his natural position, because before the game manager Grady Little announced that Garciaparra would move to third beginning Friday, allowing hot-hitting James Loney to play first on a mostly everyday basis.
However, Wilson Betemit, like the multiple presidential candidates who are popping up like weeds in your front yard (and just as annoyingly), broke out of an 0-for-18 slump (hopefully) with an eighth-inning home run, his eighth of the year.
Perhaps in celebration, Loney pinch-hit for Penny in the ninth and unloaded a two-run smash off the distant center-field wall that would have been a three-run homer in most ballparks. It went for a two-run triple and boosted Loney's average in The Show to .448.
Held scoreless through five innings and trailing 1-0, Penny -- the winner of the "Old Slugger" award as the best hitting Dodger pitcher in 2006, opened with a double. Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew booted a double-play grounder, which allowed Penny to score the tying run, Luis Gonzalez singled in the lead run and a two-run triple by the Dodgers All-Star catcher Russell Martin to the 448-foot mark in centerfield made it 4-1.
The youth movement continues it's triumphal march as Chad Billingsley (4-0, 3.26) opposes Edgar Gonzalez (3-2, 4.35) tonight.
Score by innings Los Angeles 000 004 013-8 Arizona 000 100 000-1 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Furcal ss 5 1 1 0 .276 Pierre cf 5 1 1 2 .276 Garciaparra 1b 5 0 0 0 .275 Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000 Kent 2b 2 0 0 0 .264 Betemit 3b 1 1 1 1 .198 Gonzalez lf 4 1 1 1 .294 Kemp rf 0 0 0 0 .431 Martin c 4 0 2 2 .293 Ethier rf-lf 3 1 0 0 .276 Abreu 3b-2b 3 1 1 0 .271 Penny p 2 1 1 0 .241 Loney ph-1b 1 1 1 2 .448 Totals 35 8 9 8 Arizona 30 1 5 1 Error- Ethier (4). 2B- Penny (2). 3B- Martin (2), Loney (2). HR- Betemit (8). RBI- Pierre 2 (17), Gonzalez (39(, Martin 2 (49), Betemit (29), Loney' 2 (9). CS- Kent (2). LOB- Los Angeles 4, Arizona 5. DP- Kent, Furcal and Garciaparra. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Penny (10-1) 8.0 4 1-1 2 4 2.04 Broxton 1.0 1 0-0 0 0 3.35 HPB- Penny. T- 2:48. Att-24,966.Dodger Blue Notes-- Garciaparra, who quickly took over at first base when he joined the Dodgers as a free agent two winters ago, was asked by Little to make the switch, an to his credit made the move willingly. "I'm fine with it," he said. "I'm going to get some work in and see how it goes. I have said from day one that whatever Little wants or whatever he feels, I'm ready to do it. I'll do whatever it takes to help this team win." Dodger fans are learning what you gentle readers have known for a long time, that Loney, who is hitting .429 with half of his 12 hits for extra bases, is a potential Gold Glove winner at first base. ...Phoenix Mercury general manager Ann Meyers Drysdale threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ...Supplemental first-round pick James Adkins, a left-handed pitcher from the University of Tennessee; fifth-rounder Kyle Blair, a right-handed pitcher from Los Gatos (Calif.) High School; and 14th-rounder Devin Fuller, a right-handed pitcher from Gilbert (Ariz.) High School have still not signed, making it 13 of the top 19 draft picks who are already inked. The new signing deadline is July 2. ...Las Vegas lefty Matt White, who gained international fame during Spring Training when he told MLB.com that he bought a piece of land from a relative that contained $2.4 billion worth of decorative rock, is being granted his release so he can pitch in Japan. ...With just over three days left in online All-Star balloting, Russell Martin holds a lead of 213,114 at the catcher's position. When results were first announced on June 4, Martin trailed Paul Lo Duca by 90,000 votes. If he holds on, he would become the first Canadian catcher to ever start an All-Star Game. Online voting ends Thursday at 8:59 PT. ...Luis Gonzalez hit his 10th homer yesterday, giving him 13 consecutive seasons with 10 or more home runs. Jeff Kent is the active leader, having had double-figures in homers for 16 consecutive Major League seasons. ...With their arrival in Arizona last night, the Dodgers have traveled 5,066 miles over the last week. Once they land in Los Angeles on Thursday night, the three-city, 10-game, 11-day road trip will have covered 5,424 miles. ...When Russell Martin starts behind the plate, the Dodgers have a 41-25 record (.621). ...Takashi Saito registered his 20th save of the season on in Tampa Bay and became one of only two Major Leaguers in history to convert 44 of their first 47 save appearances, joining Eric Gagné. Should he convert his next save opportunity, he would become the best ever in 48 chances, as Gagné was 44-for-48 to start his career.