This 'Pen Not Mightier Than the Bat

Brett Tomko has reversed his fortunes, at least for the time being, but the Dodger bullpen let him down in a 4-1 loss. And Mets starter Oliver Perez (9-6) gave up only a single run and six hits while pitching into the eighth inning. However, the Phillies beat San Diego so the Dodgers and Padres continue in lockstep toward September.

This Pen Not Mightier Than the Bat Perez was making only in his second start since coming off the disabled list but it was the 11th time in 17 starts this season that the left-hander has allowed fewer than three earned runs. He struck out eight and walked three, holding the boys in blue to 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and making big pitches each time he needed them.

A couple of fielding mistakes cost the Dodgers dearly. Juan Pierre was charged with an error that cost a run in the first inning and newly arrived Roberto Hernandez was thumped in the eighth inning for three runs and an error fielding a bunt added to his discomfort.

The Los Angeles offense was provided by third baseman Nomar Garciaparra, who slugged his third homer of the year into the left-center field seats in the second inning.

Tomko made his second impressive start in a row since replacing injured Randy Wolf in the Dodgers' rotation. He allowed an unearned run in the first inning on Pierre's two-base error and gave up only five hits over six innings. He struck out three and walked one.

For the first time Wolf threw off a mound since going on the DL because of an impingement in his shoulder. Another bullpen session is scheduled on Sunday, and the plan is for minor league rehab start next Wednesday.

After Pierre called off left fielder Luis Gonzalez, then shied away to avoid a collision on a ball hit into left-center field, David Wright singled the first New York run across.

Tomko then sailed through five scoreless innings before giving he ball to Joe Beimel in the seventh.

Hernandez took over in the eighth with the game tied 1-1 and Jose Reyes led off with a double. Marlon Anderson bunted him to third base and Hernandez skipped his throw to first past James Loney. He made a second bad throw moments later and Carlos Beltran whacked the pitch over the right-center field wall and the Mets were up 4-1 and stayed that way.

"I thought I didn't have as much time as I did and I rushed the throw," Hernandez said. "The ball was wet, I was off-balance and I just threw it in the dirt. But one positive I can take from here is that I'm throwing strikes again. I couldn't ask for anything more, especially after being out for a month and not pitching in game situations. Now I've got to work on throwing better strikes."

Jose Valentin, one of seven former Dodgers on the Mets roster, broke his right leg when he fouled off a pitch in the fourth inning. Earlier in the year he had gone down with a torn ligament in his knee and was off for 5 1/2 weeks.

Tomko credits his turnaround to a cut fastball he decided to re-install in is arsenal for the first time since 2003. He said he threw as many cutters as fastballs at the Mets, accounting for 12 of the 15 outs via the ground ball, giving him an unusual result for a fly-ball pitcher.

Tomko said his legs gave out when he reached 85 pitches after pitching short relief for two months. And for the first time in weeks, Tomko was not booed by the home crowd.

Grady Little is thinking about starting Eric Stults on Sunday instead of Mark Hendrickson, who was used for two innings in relief in the first game of the New York series.

Brad Penny (11-1, 2.33) goes against Jorge Sosa (7-4, 3.84 ERA) this afternoon at Dodger Stadium.
 Score by innings
New York	100 000 030-4
Los Angeles	010 000 000-1

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	4  0  1  0  .281
Pierre cf	4  0  1  0  .287
Martin c	4  0  1  0  .310
Kent 2b	        3  0  2  0  .284
Garciaparra 3b	4  1  1  1  .276
Loney 1b	4  0  1  0  .369
Kemp rf	        2  0  0  0  .376
Tomko p	        2  0  0  0  .000
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Saenz ph	1  0  0  0  .208
 Hernandez p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Houlton p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Martinez ph	1  0  0  0  .153
   Totals	33 1 7 1
   New York	34 4 8 3

 Errors- Pierre (4), Hernandez (1), 2B- Kent. 
HR- Garciaparra (3). RBI- Garciaparra (45). 
SB- Pierre 2 (40). LOB- Los Angeles 8, New 
York 5. DP- Furcal, Kent and Loney.

 Los Angeles	inn  h  r-er bb so  era
Tomko	        6.0  5  1-0  1  3  5.42
Beimel	        1.0  1  0-0  0  0  3.64
Hernandez (3-2)	1.0  2  3-2  0  0  6.43
Houlton	        1.0  0  0-0  0  1  3.86
 T- 2:42. Att- 52,103.
Dodger Blue Notes-- Takashi Saito was unavailable for the second straight game because of tightness in his right shoulder. ... Jeff Kent led off the sixth with his 523rd double, tying Willie Mays for 33rd place. ... Pierre extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a single, then stole second and third later in the first inning to run his total to 40. ...With the starting staff struggling, Little may temporarily used a six-man rotation. Under that plan, each starter would have an extra day of rest and could be used for one inning of relief instead of throwing a bullpen session. ...The Dodgers opened a new Transportation Center at Dodger Stadium. "The Transportation Center enables us to provide our fans with the must updated and accurate information as they make their way to and from Dodger Stadium," said Dodgers owner and chairman Frank McCourt. "From this hub, we are able to connect and coordinate multiple transportation authorities and partners and provide a safer and more efficient parking system for all Dodger fans."