Viva Tradition; Loney Homers to Beat Cards

James Loney lined a shot into the right field seats with Russell Martin on base in the ninth inning to give the Dodgers a tense 2-1 win over the Cardinals last night in St. Louis.

One of the best things about baseball is its yesterdays. And last night in the usual strength-sapping St. Louis August heat, the ace of the Dodgers and Cardinals staff went mano a mano and although their names were Brad Penny and Adam Wainwright, it just as well have been Whitlow Wyatt and Mort Cooper or Preacher Roe and Howie Pollet or Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson or Don Sutton and Bob Forsch or Orel Hershiser and Joanquin Andujar or Fernando Valenzuela and ... well, you get the picture.

Be it old Sportsman's Park or one of Mr. Busch's Stadiums, any of the above named pitchers would have been proud to have had a hand in last night's game in tradition-soaked St. Louis, where the Dodgers used a single and a two-run homer by a couple of youngsters, then called on a not-so-youngster to finally choke off the Cardinals in the last of the ninth as Los Angeles won two-games in a row for the first time it seems since the Warren Harding administration.

The game sizzled into the top of the ninth in a 0-0 tie, with Penny leaving after 108 pitches for newly-acquired pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney (he fanned) in the eighth and Wainwright battling through 121 pitches to take the complete game loss.

Penny allowed five hits through eight. Wainwright gave up six but two of them, a one out single in the ninth by 24-year-old Russell Martin and a long drive into the right field seats by 23-year-old James Loney, made the difference and the homer was the first allowed in seven starts by Wainwright.

Then Takashi Saito, a 37-year-old miracle worker, battled through a 29-pitch ninth inning, allowing a walk, two hits and a run before striking out the side for his 29th save and a 2-1 Los Angeles win.

As tradition would dictate, both sides played sparkling defense, wracking up important double plays when needed; St. Louis in the second and third innings, Los Angeles in the first and fifth.

Rafael Furcal beat out an infield hit for the first Dodger hit in the fourth and with two out, Loney, who was hitting third this night, gave notice of things to come by driving a ball some 400-feet down the right field line that just hooked foul before striking out.

The Cardinals got hits in the second, third, fourth and two in the fifth before Joe Beimel took over in the eighth after Sweeney fanned for Penny with Andre Ethier on second with a two-out double. Beimel fell behind Albert Pujols with two out in the inning, walked him intentionally and then picked him off first base with his deceptive move.

Furcal bounced out to open the ninth but Martin singled to left. Loney leaned on a low, inside pitch and hit it half way up the right-center field seats for his fifth home run and the only two Dodger runs of the game.

Saito, who brought a 52-3 strikeout to walk ratio in with him to close things out, walked Jim Edmonds on four pitches. He struck out Scott Roland but a rejuvenated Rick Ankiel and Benjie Molina singled back to back, driving in the first, and only Cardinal run.

Saito finished the evening with a flourish, fanning pinch-hitter Ryan Ludwick and Adam Kennedy for his 29th save and second in two nights.

The Dodgers managed six hits (Furcal, Martin, Garciaparra, Pierre and Ethier). St. Louis had seven.

Penny uncharacteristically walked two in the first inning and threw first-pitch strikes to only three of the first 11 he faced. But he settled in and reversed that trend, throwing a strike to the next 15 of 16 he faced. Although he didn't get the win, holding steady with a 13-3 record, he dropped his ERA to 2.54 and L.A. is 18-6 in his 24 starts.

The Dodgers were 0-for-2 in the only runners in scoring position situations they were presented. After leading the league in RISP (.291) from April through July, the Dodgers came into the game with a .076 average in August.

St. Louis have had their way with Los Angeles in St. Louis, winning 12 of 13 games since 2003.

This afternoon, Derek Lowe (8-10, 3.58 ERA) opposes Braden Looper (9-9, 5.25 ERA) in the second game of the series.
 Score by innings
Los Angeles	000 000 002-2
St. Louis	000 000 001-1

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	4  0  1  0  .280
Martin c	4  1  1  0  .298
Loney 1b	4  1  1  2  .322
Kent 2b	        4  0  0  0  .294
 Martinez 2b	0  0  0  0  .000
Gonzalez lf	4  0  0  0  .276
 Saito p	0  0  0  0  .000
Garciaparra 3b	3  0  1  0  .291
Pierre cf	2  0  1  0  .278
Ethier rf-lf	3  0  1  0  .296
Penny p	        2  0  0  0  .283
 Sweeney ph	1  0  0  0  .253
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Kemp rf	0  0  0  0  .317
   Totals	31 2 6 2
   St. Louis	31 1 7 1

 2B- Ethier (21). HR- Loney (5). RBI- Loney (25).
CS- Furcal (6). LOB- Los angeles 3, St. Louis 8.
DP- Furcal, Kent and Loney' Kent, Furcal and Loney.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Penny	        7.0  5  0-0  3  6  2.54
Beimel (3-1)	1.0  0  0-0  1  0  3.86
Saito (sv 29)	1.0  2  1-1  1  3  1.61
 T- 2:21. Att- 44,595.	
Dodger Blue Notes-- Before the game the Dodgers announced the signing of Shea Hillenbrand to a Las Vegas contract. The 32-year-old Hillenbrand, a corner infielder, has been released twice this year, by the Angels and Padres. He has a .285 lifetime average in parts of seven Major League seasons with 107 career home runs, 21 in 2006. The Dodgers are his sixth organization in the last five years. ...The Rockies and Dodgers game that was rained out in Colorado on July 27, has been re-scheduled as part of a split doubleheader on Tuesday, Sept. 18, at Coors Field. The makeup game is slated to begin at 1:05 p.m. local time, with the second game starting at 6:35 as originally scheduled. Also, the scheduled game Aug. 26 at New York has been picked up by ESPN. ...Mark Sweeney joined the club ready for duty as the primary left-handed pinch-hitter, and the Dodgers made room for their acquisition from the Giants by optioning pitcher D.J. Houlton to Las Vegas. ...The August 9th homer was the fourth career extra-inning shot for Rafael Furcal and first since April 21, 2004 off Phil Norton, also at Great American Ball Park. ...Penny has made six consecutive quality starts and 21 quality starts in his 24 outings this season, the best percentage in the NL and second in baseball to Dan Haren (22 of 24, .917). Penny is leading the league in winning percentage (13-3, .813). ...Nine players on the Dodgers' current 25-man roster are either in their first or second season in the big leagues. ... Before the game, Luis Gonzalez was hitting .323 in the Dodgers' 59 victories with eight homers and 36 RBI while posting a .406 on-base percentage and a .529 slugging percentage. In the team's 55 losses, Gonzalez was hitting .233 with three homers and 16 RBI, a .302 on-base percentage and .328 slugging percentage. ...Saito's 29th save allowed him to pass Jeff Shaw (2000) and Jay Howell (1989) for the ninth highest single-season total in Los Angeles/Brooklyn history. He is three behind Todd Worrell. Saito now has 53 career saves. ...Russell Martin's double in the final game of the Cincinnati series was his 53rd since reaching the big leagues and in L.A. history, only one player has hit more doubles in his first two full seasons -- Eric Karros with 57 in 1993-94. Andre Ethier is eighth on that list with 41 behind Karros, Martin, Raul Mondesi (50), Todd Hollandsworth (46), Jim Lefebvre (44), Mike Piazza (42) and tied with Steve Sax (41).