Six-Run Sixth Sinks Tomko, Dodgers

A strained left calf muscle put Nomar Garciaparra on the 15-day disabled list as the Dodgers have lost four straight and 13 of 16 since leading the NL West by 1 1/2 games on July 26, which is also the last time a Dodger starting pitcher won a game.

In historic Dodger tradition, newly-acquired Mark Sweeney wandered off first base with one out the ninth and was doubled as Juan Pierre fouled out to the catcher. The Astros completed the rare, game-ending 2-3 double play dumped Los Angeles 7-4.

Starter Brett Tomko sailed into the fifth with a shutout but was nailed for five runs an reliever Joe Beimel surrendered two more. That gave Houston a 7-1 lead and effectively ended the game, although the Dodgers fought back to score three times before the bazaar game-ending double play.

The fourth place Dodgers, now 60-59, lost third baseman to the Disabled list because of the strained calf. He had tried to play through the injury for more than a week but the training staff determined it wasn't going to get any better without rest.

Shea Hillenbrand, who played third base for manager Grady Little at Boston, will replace him at third base and reliever Eric Hull was recalled from Las Vegas to take Garciaparra's roster spot, again giving the Dodgers a 12-man pitching staff.

Matt Albers (3-5) didn't have much trouble with the struggling Los Angeles attack, getting groundballs on 10 of his the first 15 batters he faced.

Tomko (2-10) allowed five runs, six hits and four walks over five-plus innings and struck out five. The right-hander is 0-5 with a 6.06 ERA in seven starts at home this season.

He worked out of jams in the second and fourth innings before the Astros loaded the bases with none out in the sixth inning with the score tied 1-1.

Tomko and Beimel were banged around and when the dust had cleared, six runs had crossed the plate. In his previous 60 appearances this season, Beimel had allowed only four of 35 inherited baserunners to score.

Matt Kemp slugged his seventh homer of the season in the first inning and with the tying run at the plate in the ninth, Sweeney, who had the only Dodger hit with a runner in scoring position, cutting the lead to three, ran the Dodgers out of a chance in the ninth when he took off for second base with one out on a pop fly behind the plate by Juan Pierre and was forced out at first.

Jeff Kent snapped an 0-for-25 drought with an RBI double in the sixth and Hillenbran tripled and scored on pinch-hitter Olmedo Saenz's ground ball in the seventh.

Right-hander Brad Penny (13-3, 2.54 ERA) will take on the Astros righty Jason Jennings (2-7, 6.15) on tonight in the third game of the four-game series.
 Score by innings
Houston	        000 106 000-7
Los Angeles	100 001 101-4

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	3  0  0  0  .276
Pierre cf	5  1  2  0  .284
Kemp rf	        4  1  2  1  .316
Kent 2b	        4  0  1  0  .289
Loney 1b	4  0  1  0  .323
Martin c	4  0  0  0  .289
Ethier lf	4  1  2  0  .302
Hillenbran 3b	3  1  1  0  .252
Tomko p	        1  0  0  0  .000
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Seanez p	0  0  0  0  .0	00
 Saenz ph	1  0  0  1  .180
 Proctor p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Hull p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Sweeney	1  0  1  1  .263
   Totals	34 4 10 4
   Houston	33 7 10 7

 Error- Kemp (3). 2B- Kent (26), Ethier (25).
3B- Hillenbran (1). HR- Kemp (7). RBI- Kemp (24),
Kent (61), Saenz (16), Sweeney (11). S- Tomko.
SB- Furcal (13). LOB- Los angeles 7, Houston 6.
DP- Hillenbrand, Kent and Loney; Kent, Furcal
and Loney; Loney, Furcal and Loney.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Tomko (2-10)	5.0  6  5-5  4  5  5.67
Beimel	        0.2  2  2-2  0  0  4.35
Seanez	        1.1  1  0-0  0  3  3.75
Proctor	        1.0  0  0-0  1  0  3.60
Hull	        1.0  1  0-0  0  1  6.23
 T- 3:01. Att- 49,399.
Stults Returning-- Little announced that left-hander Eric Stults will be recalled from Las Vegas to take the rotation spot - which used to belong to Mark Hendrickson - on Friday night against Colorado. When someone asked if there were other options besides Stults, Little simply said, "Not many." Although Little didn't say it, Hull likely will go back down to clear a roster spot for Stults.

Dodger Blue Notes-- The Dodgers went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position, with the only hit being Sweeney's RBI single in the ninth, and they now are 3 for their last 55 w/RISP. ...Relief pitcher Eric Hull was recalled to take Garciaparra's spot on the roster. Hull, who has appeared in two games for the Dodgers this season, was 0-0 with an 8.10 ERA before being optioned to Triple-A on Aug. 1. In 42 games at Las Vegas, Hull was 3-3 with a 2.84 ERA and 69 strike outs. ...Juan Pierre celebrated his 30th birthday by collecting two hits and is batting .341 in the month of August with a .396 on-base percentage. He had three hits in Monday's loss and picked up his 46th stolen base of the season, which is the most by a Dodger since Eric Young swiped 51 in 1999. ...Negotiations with fifth-round draft pick Kyle Blair, a right-hander who has signed a letter of intent to pitch for the University of San Diego, are expected to last well into the day. The deadline for signing 2007 draft choices is 9 p.m. tonight. Blair is believed to be seeking a bonus of $1.1 million. ...The Dodgers are planning to salute Houston 2B Craig Biggio on Thursday night with a pregame ceremony before he plays his final game at Chavez Ravine. The 20-year veteran, who is retiring at the end of the season, has 96 hits, nine home runs and a .264 average in Los Angeles -- including his first career grand slam. ...Houston's Phil Garner is one of seven current big league managers to have played for, coached or managed the Dodgers. That list includes Willie Randolph (1989-90), Charlie Manuel (1974-75), Jim Tracy (1999-2005), Mike Scioscia (1980-92), Ron Washington (1977), and Bobby Cox, who was a Dodger farmhand. All but Cox, Tracy and Manuel played for Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda. ...Since 1912, only one Dodger pitcher has permitted a lower batting average than Takashi Saito's .219 mark (minimum 100 batters faced), according to STATS, LLC, and that was Eric Gagné, who allowed just a .199 opponent average as a Dodger. Saito's next save will make him the just the third Dodger to record 30 saves in a season, joining Gagné (3 times), Todd Worrell (3 times) and Jeff Shaw (2 times). Since the All-Star Break of last season, Saito has a 1.76 ERA (15 ER/83.0 IP), the second-best mark of all NL pitchers with 60 or more innings during that span. The only NL hurler with a better ERA over the past year-plus is Billy Wagner (1.73). The only other pitchers in baseball with a better ERA during that span are Francisco Rodriguez (1.70) and Joe Nathan (1.73). ...Rene Cardenas, who spent 21 years calling Dodgers games in Spanish on radio -- including the 1959 and 1988 championship seasons and the Fernando Valenzuela era -- is working this series as an analyst for the Astros' Spanish-language radio network.