Dodger Battery Charged Up in Victory

Things got back to normal, at least for a night, as Brad Penny won his 14th game, catcher Russell Martin slugged a pair of home runs and knocked in three, and manager Grady Little was able to go into his patiented Proctor, Broxton and Saito routine to nail down a 6-3 win in the final game of four with the Astros.

Despite this victory, L.A. remains 6 1/2 games behind first-place Arizona and trail five teams in the Wild Card chase. But the Dodgers may have turned the corner after suffering through an 8-19 slide that turned a 1 1/2 game lead into crisis central.

"We know the position we've gotten ourselves into," said manager Grady Little. "Now it's up to us to get ourselves out of it."

The game seemed like all others recently when Penny allowed single runs in the second, third and fourth innings. But then the Dodgers rallied with three in the sixth inning and two in the seventh.

Martin provided the power with his first multi-homer game as a Major Leaguer. He now has 14 home runs, one behind team leader Jeff Kent.

"I don't go up there trying to hit home runs," he said. "We got a lot of two-out hits tonight (seven) and hits with runners in scoring position (3-for-9). We haven't done that lately. It's nice to see we can do it."

Martin entered the in an 0-for-12 slump, and his average slipped below .290 for the first time since June 21. Since appearing in his first All-Star Game, he's hitting .252. He's started a stunning 108 of the Dodgers' 120 games (one National League catcher recently said, "Lieberthan has the easiest job in the league").

Some feel he might be wearing down. But the youngster disputes that. "A lot of it is learning from last year and how my body felt toward the end," he said. "This year, I'm working hard in the gym so I can still feel good, and that's what I'm doing."

Penny wasn't exactly vintage Penney, being tagged for 10 hits, but he was tough with men on base and kept the Dodgers close long enough for them to rally.

The red-hot Juan Pierre had three hits and the suddenly rejuvenated Matt Kemp, batting third, had a single, double, stole a base and scored a run, executing a perfect hit-and-run single with Pierre on first in the sixth inning with the Dodgers trailing, 3-1.

Martin, who homered with two outs in the second inning, slugged his two-run shot with Matt Kemp on second and two outs in the sixth and James Loney hit a scoring fly ball.

In the seventh, Rafael Furcal whacked a two-out double on the eighth pitch of a long at-bat and Pierre followed with an RBI single, stole second (#48) and scored when Matt Kemp doubled up the gap in left-center.

The Dodgers (61-59) won for just the eighth time in their past 27 games, avoiding dropping to .500 for what would have been the first time since they were 2-2 back on April 6.

Derek Lowe (8-11, 3.61) opposes Colorado's Wandy Rodriguez (7-10, 4.34) in an attempt to continue the momentum tonight. Lowe is winless since June 22.
 Score by innings
Houston	        011 100 000-3
Los Angeles	010 003 20x-6

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	4  1  1  0  .275
Pierre cf	4  2  3  1  .288
Kemp rf	        4  1  2  1  .321
Kent 2b	        3  0  0  0  .286
Loney 1b	3  0  0  1  .317
Martin c	4  2  2  3  .291
Gonzalez lf	3  0  2  0  .278
 Proctor p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Saenz ph	1  0  1  0  .189
 Saito p	0  0  0  0  .000
Hillenbran 3b	3  0  0  0  .249
 Martinez 3b	1  0  0  0  .170
Penny p	        2  0  0  0  .271
 Ethier lf	2  0  0  0  .300
   Totals	34 6 11 6
   Houston	34 3 11 3

 2B- Gonzalez (21), Furcal (19). HR- Martin 2 (14).
RBI- Martin 3 (71), Loney (26), Pierre (28), Kemp
(25). SF- Loney. SB- Pierre 2 (48), Kemp (5). 
LOB- Los Angeles 6, Houston 8. DP- Martinez, Kent
and Loney; Furcal, Kent and Loney.

 Los Angeles 	in  h  r-er bb os  era
Penny (14-3)	6.0 10  3-3  1  6  2.61
Proctor	        1.0  0  0-0  0  1  3.55
Broxton	        1.0  1  0-0  0  2  2.39
Saito (sv 30)	1.0  0  0-0  1  0  .154
 T- 2:58. Att-49,098.
Blair a No-Sign-- The Dodgers could not agree to terms with right-hander Kyle Blair, their fifth-round selection in this year's amateur draft, before last night's deadline for signing 2007 draft picks. As a result, Blair will honor his scholarship to the University of San Diego and be ineligible to re-enter the draft until the summer of 2010.

?The Dodgers ultimately balked at giving Blair what was believed to be a $1.1 million signing bonus that was well beyond Major League Baseball's prescribed range -- or "slot" -- for a fifth-rounder. But Blair would have gone in one of the first two rounds if clubs hadn't been concerned with his signability after he let it be known before the draft he was seeking a bonus in the $1.5 million range and the Dodgers reportedly offered $1.1 milion.

?"I think like any player, there was that goal on Kyle's part of being a major-league baseball player," said Brodie Van Wagenen, the New York-based agent who was advising Blair. "But now, he will have to delay that for three years before he has a chance to sign with a major-league organization. Kyle was prepared to not receive what he was looking for, and he is definitely ready to go on with his life."

?Dodgers assistant general manager Logan White said the negotiations ended amicably. "We didn't have a meeting of the minds. We knew it might be tough. They were up front with where they were at and never changed. We just couldn't get to where they wanted to get.

?"We wish Kyle Blair the best and know he is going to have a good career," White said. "He is a good kid. I talked to Kyle, and there is disappointment all around that we weren't able to get it done. But there certainly is a positive feeling toward Kyle, and I think he feels the same way toward us."

Dodger Blue Notes-- Jonathan Broxton the eighth and Saito the ninth. Broxton has not allowed a home run in 91 consecutive appearances, tying Paul Quantrill for the L.A. Dodgers record. ...The Dodgers released veteran catcher Ben Davis, who batted .218 in 36 games at Las Vegas. The move was made to clear a roster spot for Chad Moeller, the catcher the Dodgers acquired last week from Cincinnati's Triple-A Louisville affiliate. Moeller made his debut for the 51s on Tuesday, going 2 for 3 with an RBI. The Dodgers are expected to promote one of the 51s' catchers, Moeller or Ken Huckaby, to the majors for the September roster expansion. ...Second base prospect Tony Abreu, out almost a month with symptoms of a sports hernia, returned to action for Triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday, going 2-for-4 with a double and three runs scored and was 0-for-3 last night. Abreu figures to get a September callup and is generally considered the heir apparent to Jeff Kent. Third baseman Andy LaRoche has been sidelined for 10 days with a back injury. ...The Dodgers will celebrate the 10th annual Viva Los Dodgers festival prior to Saturday's game against the Colorado Rockies. This year's event will include top Latin acts. The award-winning festival will include live music, entertainment and activities for the entire family. ...To commemorate Elvis Presley, a new feature at www.walteromalley.com, the remarkable Web site of Walter O'Malley, relates the narrative when Elvis Presley was filmed in scenes at Dodger Stadium for "Spinout", Presley's 22nd feature film. The year 1966 was certainly a memorable one, as Elvis was at Dodger Stadium and made part of the movie in the stadium parking lot. The Beatles made their second-to-last public performance on August 28 and the Dodgers won the National League Pennant. The Elvis feature may be accessed from the home page.

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