Dodgers Lose a Golden Opportunity

Brad Penny made his second start of the season against San Diego and when the smoke cleared, he had allowed the Padres to score in only two of the 12 innings he had worked. The bad news was that they had pasted a '4' up on the board each game and as a result he is 0-2 on the season.

But, you say, pitchers can allow four runs in a game and win in the major leagues. There is no argument there but Penny's teammates haven't done him kindly. The bullpen and run support have been sorely lacking in his starts and, for that matter, in much of the rest of the season.

So the club is in a death spiral so early in the year that most fans haven't learned the names of the newer players on the roster, and one has the feeling that changes are about to be made unless the club snaps out of it's funk.

Peavy was hit hard an often early in the contest and left after six having given up three runs and nine hits. Penny also left after six, having allowed 10 hits and six runs -- not much of a difference.

But then the Dodgers bullpen coughed up four more runs over the final three innings, while San Diego relievers or Los Angeles hitters (you make the determination) allowed the Padres to win the final three frames 3-2, thus the 7-5 loss.

"I couldn't be more happy with the outcome of this game, figuring a way to get a win out of that," Peavy said afterwards. "I didn't have anything, really. I knew early it was going to be one of those nights where I'd have to change speeds, focus on location and try to figure it out pitch by pitch."

Peavy (3-0) continued his success against the NL West, and improved to 11-1 in 20 career starts against the Dodgers with a 2.31 ERA. The right-hander has won his last nine decisions against them -— including last Saturday's two-hitter.

And as glossy as that looks, the Dodgers haven't actually been beating up on the cream of the National League for some time.

National League pitchers coming off Cy Young seasons are now 7-0 with two no-decisions against the Dodgers since Sept. 9, 2003, when young Edwin Jackson (now 2-0 for Tampa Bay) made his first major league start a spectacular one, beating Randy Johnson at Arizona. 2007.

Also, no reigning Cy Young winner in either league has been charged with a loss at Dodger Stadium since June 5, 1993, when Kevin Gross beat Greg Maddux of the Braves 5-1.

And all of those folks who stay up late at night worrying about the Dodgers lack of power, listen to what Penny said after the game:

"I beat myself tonight. All night, they hit a lot of singles and played base-to-base. It's not easy to win playing base-to-base but they did. They didn't try to do too much, they just put the ball in play and it worked out for them."

Only two teams in the National League have scored fewer runs than the Dodgers, who started their 10th different lineup lineup of the season that saw four players hitting under .168. And Matt Kemp wasn't one of them, making one wonder about his absence.

Andruw Jones, and his $36 million contract, has one hit in his last six games. He has slowly worked his way down through the lineup, hitting seventh in the order last night. He went he went 0-for-4, dropping his average to .114 and catcalls from the big Dodger Stadium crowd after each out.

Furcal, who had an injury-plagued 2007 season, reached base five times, scoring three of the Dodgers' five runs, driving a double and a triple and falling only a home run short of the cycle. That boosted his average to .432, second in the Major Leagues.

A revived Juan Pierre had three hits and a pair of runs batted in, Russell Martin, who also seems to have shaken his slump, added a single and a double and James Loney homered into the visitor's bullpen.

Then trailing 7-4, they almost pulled a rabbit out of their hat, parlaying a one-out walk from slumping Brad DeWitt and Furcal's second walk of the game to bring he tying run to the plate in the ninth. Pierre's third hit drove in one and when Andre Ethier beat out an infield single, allowing Jeff Kent to come to the plate with the bases loaded.

But so far this season, no miracles have been performed and Trevor Hoffman struck him out to record his, what?, 800th save against the Dodgers who lost their fourth game and slid four games behind an 8-2 Arizona team and a scant 1/2 game in front of the stumbling Giants.

Rafael Furcal led off the game with a bunt single, Pierre also singled and a Peavy wild pitch both of them up a base. Ethier, on a 3-0 pitch, lofted a sacrifice fly to left field. Kent singled but Loney hit into an inning-ending double play. However, Los Angeles had scored in their first at-bat for the first time since opening day.

In the second, Martin led off with a double and with two out, Penny (the 2007 Old Slugger winner for best-hitting Dodger pitcher) lined a single to left field. For some unknown reason third base coach Larry Bowa waived the Dodgers catcher home only to get him thrown out from here to Figueroa Street.

In the third inning, Furcal doubled, Pierre singled and stole second with none out, but the Dodgers managed only one run on Ethier's RBI groundout. At this point, they had seven hits and two runs off Peavey.

In the fourth, after San Diego scored their usual four runs off Penny (again six singles turning the trick), Martin walked to lead off but died at first when Penny struck out to end the inning despite having thrown 90 pitches.

In the fifth, Furcal led off with a walk but was caught stealing and Loney's solo homer came in the sixth to make it 4-3 San Diego, Then Joe Beimel gave up a run in the seventh and the suddenly hittable Ramon Troncoso allowed two in the eighth.

Los Angeles went 5-for-14 but only one of the hits, Pierre's RBI single in the ninth, drove in a run.

Furcal tripled with one out in the seventh and scored on a perfectly placed bunt by Pierre before the final rally came up short in the ninth.
 Score by innings
San Diego	000 400 120-7
Los Angeles	101 001 101-5

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	3  3  3  0  .432
Pierre lf	4  0  3  2  .273
Ethier rf	4  0  1  2  .278
Kent 2b	        5  0  1  0  .235
Loney 1b	4  1  1  1  .351
Martin c	6  0  2  0  .156
Jones cf	4  0  0  0  .114
DeWitt 3b	3  1  0  0  .226
 Penny p	2  0  1  0  .200
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Proctor p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Young ph	1  0  0  0  .167
 Troncoso p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Park p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Sweeney ph	1  0  0  0  .143
  Totals	34 5 12 5
  Padres	40 7 16 7

 2b hits- Martin (2), Furcal (6). 
3b hits- Furcal (3). Hr_ Loney (2). RBI-
Ethier 2 (7), Loney (4), Pierre (2 (3).
S- Pierre. SF- Ethier. SB- Pierre (1).
CS- Furcal (1). LOB- Los Angeles 8,
San Diego 11. DP- Furcal, Kent and Loney;
DeWitt, Kent and Loney.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Penny (1-2)	6.0 10  4-4  3  3  3.86
Beimel	        0.1  2  1-1  0  0  2.70
Proctor	        0.2  0  0-0  0  0  8.31
Troncoso	1.0  3  2-2  1  1  9.53
Park	        1.0  1  0-0  0  0  2.25
 T- 3:22. Att- 54,052.
Jones Stock Going Down
Along with the rest of the stock market, center fielder Andruw Jones stock is hitting historic lows after finding himself batting seventh and going 0-for-4 and with his batting average sliding to .114. "You want to come out and show why you're here," Jones said. "I've played the game for a while. You just want to get off to a good start especially with a good team. I just have to calm down and hopefully get a good rhythm going."

And Now the Good News
Nomar Garciaparra will DH for Las Vegas tonight, and perhaps play 3B on Sunday. He probably won't need more than a week to rehab his bat. Andy LaRoche took regular batting practice, a gigantic step for him, but he's several days away from throwing across the diamond. He is only four weeks into what was supposed to be the eight to 10 weeks predicted for his recovery.

Kuo to Start
Left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo has bumped Esteban Loaiza from his scheduled start Tuesday night against the Pirates, according to manager Joe Torre. Loaiza allowed four runs in the first inning of his first start in Arizona, but he then retired 10 consecutive batters. However, Kuo's eight strikeouts in 6.2 scoreless innings over two appearances, changed Torre's mind.

Ken Gurnick of pointed out the goal of management is to bide time with Loaiza, Park and Kuo taking starts for another month or so while preserving the arm of 20-year-old phenom Clayton Kershaw, who has never pitched more than 122 innings in a professional season. Had Kershaw been asked to pitch every five days in the Major Leagues from the start of the season, it would have been unrealistic to expect him to have much left in the critical weeks of a pennant race without risking injury.

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