Spell Broken; Dodgers Bang out 15 Hits

The Dodgers have probably received a couple dozen remedies for the inability to hit with runners on during the Atlanta series (43-for-22), ranging from Huck Finn's dead cat in a cemetery caper to good luck amulets. But Special assignment coach Don Mattingly had other thoughts.

Russell Martin posted a Xerox copy of the plaster good-luck gnome that is in the bullpen every game and some think that helped but Don Mattingly, Dodgers Special Assignment coach has watched the Dodgers on television and now has seen them in person.

"You know they're not really as bad as that," Mattingly told Diamond Leung of the San Bernardino Press-Telegram, citing confidence as the key to the team snapping out of its funk.

"The difference (with the Yankees) is you have guys who were experienced. You're not sure about a younger club that doesn't have a history of getting back in it. They don't have a history of coming out of it."

But come out of it they did, with Martin, the poster boy of the slumping Dodgers reaching base five straight time, three on solid hits as the team (hopefully) shucked three week's of frustration on the Cincinnati Reds.

Rafael Furcal hit the first pitch of the night for a home run and Martin hit the second pitch for a ringing double into the right-field corner. Furcal's home run was the 22nd leadoff homer of his career and 10th in three seasons with the Dodgers. It leaves him tied for second with Johnny Frederick on the all-time franchise list.

In the second inning, Martin laced an RBI single, marking the first time in three games that the Dodgers got a hit with a runner in scoring position that resulted in that runner actually scoring.

In the fourth, he rapped a shot through the left side of the infield, giving him his first three-hit game of the season. Later he was hit by a pitch and walked, finally giving manager Joe Torre an indication of why he was awarded a Sliver Slugger last season.

Nomar Garciaparra singled and homered, knocking in three. Andre Ethier added a trio of singles and James Loney added three RBI to the Dodgers 9-2 win as they inched out of last place, trailing second place Colorado by a single game.

Another huge factor in the win is the fact that Brady Penny improved to 7-0 with a 2.26 ERA in eight starts against the Reds since 2003. The right-hander is also 5-0 with a 1.91 ERA (7 ER/33.0 IP) all-time.

The big righthander served up back-to-back doubles in the fifth inning but by that time Los Angeles had a 7-0 lead.

Penny (3-2) would work one more inning, finishing the night by allowing six hits and the single run; striking out for and walking two.

After going 1-for-23 with runners in scoring position in Atlanta, the Dodgers converted 5-for-12 against the Reds. Torre explained there was a method to his lineup madness.

He elevated Garciaparra to the No. 3 hole—where he made a team-high 65 appearances last season—after batting him sixth, seventh and eighth in three starts since coming off the disabled list on April 16.

"Hitting in front of Jeff Kent, you knew he was going to get some pitches to hit and know what to do with them," Torre said. "It takes experience. A lot of guys don't think of that when they're younger.

"For a while, it looked like Martin was squeezing sawdust out of his bat," Torre said. "One thing he doesn't like to do is lighten up.

"We had a couple of sessions on this trip of extra hitting, and he participated in both of them. He works at it, but sometimes he overworks at it. But he looked good out there tonight. The fact he used the whole field was important."

Chan Ho Park came on in the seventh to earn his first career save in 330 major league appearances. A 14-year veteran starter, Park gave up a pair of monstrous home runs. But he otherwise gave the Dodgers three strong innings, allowing Torre to rest his bullpen.

The Dodgers equalled their Atlanta series run output in the second inning. Furcal's first-pitch home run in the first got them off to a good start and after Loney lived on an error in the second, consecutive singles by Furcal, Martin and Garciaparra made it 3-0.

That improved to 5-0 in the third when Loney rapped a two-run single. Two more came in in the fifth on a double by Matt Kemp and Loney's ground ball.

In the sixth, Garciaparra slugged a shot deep into the left-field seats after Martin was hit by a pitch to end the Dodgers scoring.

The win improved the L.A. record to 8-11, still six behind the raging Diamondbacks but only two games out of second.

In an afternoon game game today in the finalé of the two-game series, the Dodgers will send LHP Hong-Chih Kuo (0-0, 0.79) vs. the Reds RHP Edinson Volquez (2-0, 1.17).

In the first two games of the Arizona series in Dodger Stadium, Wednesday will be RHP Dan Haren (3-0, 1.80) vs. RHP Derek Lowe (1-1, 2.59) and Thursday RHP Edgar Gonzalez (0-1, 4.50) vs. RHP Chad Billingsley (0-3, 6.14).    
 Score by innings
Los Angeles	122 022 000-9
Cincinnati	000 010 101-3

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	5  2  2  1  .392
Martin c	3  1  3  1  .234
Garciaparra 3b	5  1  2  3  .200
 DeWitt pr-3b	0  0  0  0  .260
Kent 2b	        4  1  1  0  .279
 Hu 2b	        1  0  0  0  .200
Ethier lf	4  1  3  0  .318
Kemp rf	        5  1  2  1  .291
Loney 1b	5  1  1  3  .296
Jones cf	4  0  0  0  .159
Penny p	        2  0  1  0  .200
 Sweeney ph	1  0  0  0  .077
 Park p	        0  0  0  0  .000
  Totals	38 9 15 9
  Reds	        39 3  9 3

 2b hits- Martin (2), Kemp 2 (3),
HR- Furcal (3), Garciaparra (1).
RBI- Furcal (8), Martin (7), 
Garciaparra 3 (3), Loney 3 (11),
Kemp )5). CS- Loney (3). LOB-
Los Angeles 7, Cincinnati (6). 
DP- Penny, Furcal and Loney;
Furcal, Hu and Loney; Park,
Furcal and Loney.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Penny (3-2) 	6.0  6  1-1  2  4  2.67
Park (sv 1)	3.0  3  2-2  2  0  3.27
 HBP- Martin. T- 2:54. Att- 14,446.
Looking for the Light
The Dodgers were hoping to snap out of their offensive funk and Great American Ball Park. Since 2006, the Dodgers have won 10 of 12 against the Reds, outscoring Cincinnati 61-37 while hitting .303 with 11 homers. At Great American, the Dodgers are 4-2 over the last two seasons. Since 2006, the .833 winning percentage against the Reds is the club's best record against any team in baseball, ahead of Washington (9-3, .750), Pittsburgh (13-7, .650), San Francisco (25-15, .625), Florida (8-5, .615), and Philadelphia (8-5, .615). Source: STATS, LLC

Raffy's Hot Bat
Dodger shortstop Rafael Furcal came into the game second in the National League with a .391 batting average and tied with the Braves' Chipper Jones for first in the Major Leagues with a .494 on-base percentage. This red-hot beginning is more than just the best stretch of Furcal's career to start the season, it also has historical significance.  

Here is a look at the best on-base percentages in Los Angeles Dodger history during the months of March/April with a minimum of 50 at-bats:  
Year  Player          OBP
1977  Ron Cey        .543
2007  Rafael Furcal  .494
1977  Steve Yeager   .486
1961  Wally Moon     .485
1988  Mike Scioscia  .484
On the Run
– Rafael Furcal and Juan Pierre were at it again on the bases in the final game of the Atlanta series, and each of them stole two bases, something that has happened just three times in the last 10 years. The last time two different Dodgers had two stolen bases in a game, came on Aug, 5, 2003, when Dave Roberts and Jason Romano had two steals apiece facing the Reds. Before that, you have to go back to Aug. 25, 1998, when Gary Sheffield and Roger Cedeno swiped two each against the Expos.  

Two on the Nose
Brad Penny was a winner at Santa Anita Racetrack in Southern California a few days ago. The Oklahoma native's horse, Synnin and Grinnin, won a $25,000 claiming race by two lengths on Saturday.

Rain, Rain, go Away
On this date in 1967, Dodger fans experienced their first rainout in Los Angeles, after a span of 737 contests from 1958-67 without a postponement. Currently, the Dodgers have not had a rainout at Dodger Stadium since Apr. 17, 2000, a span of 654 games. The club's record is 856 games without a rainout, set from Apr. 22, 1988-Apr. 10, 1999. 

  Dodger Blue Notes-- Third baseman Andy LaRoche had five at-bats in an extended Spring Training game and is expected to join Jacksonville for a rehab assignment later in the week. ...Utility infielder Tony Abreu left extended spring training Tuesday to go to Philadelphia to be examined by Dr. William Meyers, who performed abdominal surgery on him last year. Abreu, who had to be shut down because of persisting problems in the area, will then go to Los Angeles to be checked out. ...The Reds designated former Dodger infielder Juan Castro for assignment before the game. ...Jason Schmidt, on the disabled list following shoulder surgery, threw 50 pitches in the bullpen Monday. "His curveball was good in his last session, but it stunk today, but his slider was good," Torre said. ...Torre also said Yhency Brazoban, virtually unhittable so far pitching for Double-A Jacksonville, is "at the top of the list" of candidates to be promoted when the Dodgers need bullpen help." Brazoban, sent down after a setback from shoulder surgery during Spring Training, has lost "seven or eight pounds," according to Torre. ...Furcal who has three home runs, tied with Jeff Kent for the team lead, didn't hit his third last year until July 22. ... With a single on Monday, Kent extended his hitting streak to eight games. ...Eric Gagné allowed three runs in the last of the 10th inning as Milwaukee blew a two-run lead. It was Gagné's third blown save of the season and he's been shaky since the middle of last year, but some of the blame for his ugly outing Sunday goes to manager Ned Yost for asking him to pitch on a fourth straight day. While his ERA is up to 8.22, but Gagné does have 10 strikeouts in 7.2 innings.

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