Dodger 'Postmen' Deliver in the Cold

No one talks about the United States Postal Service motto, "Rain nor sleet nor heat of day shall keep the postman from his appointed rounds" or something like that but the Dodgers seemed to like it, going from 80+ degrees in Miami to below 30 degrees in Denver and still winning their seventh in a row by an 11-6 margin.

Broadcaster Vin Scully reported that the temperatures were in the 30s at game time and a 23 mph wind blowing in from Canada, or left field, dropped the wind chill somewhere into the 20s but some 30,291 hardy fans showed up anyway.

And although the Dodger personnel looked like Roald Amundsen's polar exploration crew, they ground out a big win but took six innings before they could get warmed up enough to function.

Brad Penny, who was given the choice of pitching the afternoon game in Miami or starting the first game (at night) in Colorado, chose the latter and seemed to have trouble warming up (pun intended), walking three in the first three innings, allowing three runs and stomping around the mound like an enraged elk that woke up to find his harem had left with a traveling salesman overnight.

But he recovered to pitch two scoreless innings before leaving with a 3-0 deficit for a pinch-hitter in the top of the sixth.

Apparently in the top of the sixth the batters blood thawed and they ran off seven runs, sending 10 batters to the plate. Matt Kemp had an RBI double, Mark Sweeney walked to force in a run and Blake DeWitt added a pinch-hit, two-run single. Rafael Furcal then put the icing on the cake (I did it again) with a three-run homer (#4) and suddenly the Dodgers led 7-3.

Penny, who came into the game with a 13-2 lifetime record against Colorado and a 7-0 mark since 2006, earned the win when his bullpen added four innings in which they allowed three hits and no earned runs.

Rockies starter Jeff Francis, seemed on his way to his first win of the season when the roof fell in on him.

Blake DeWitt stayed in to play third base and made a pair of errors that led to three unearned runs off Cory Wade. Joe Beimel and Chan Ho Park added zeros in the final three innings.

On the strength of Matt Kemp's three-run double in the eighth, Los Angeles added four more runs and held on. Andruw Jones ignited the rally with a double but finished 1-for-5 and finished the game with a .159 batting average and three strikeouts.

Manager Joe Torre summed it up when he said, "a four or five run lead in this park should be a save situation. We had (Takashi) Saito warming up in the ninth inning with a five-run lead. But Chan Ho Park did a good job. He got out of a jam in the eighth and had a good night."

Torre gave Russell Martin a "night off" by starting him at third base for the first time in his career. Martin made three exceptional plays, one of them on a tough one-hopper to end the second inning and save a pair of runs.

Rookie Blake DeWitt, who had only a day or so before had led the league in fielding percentage at third base, took over at third after the seven run inning, moving Martin back behind the plate.

DeWitt booted consecutive ground balls to start the inning, resulting a three-run inning for the Rockies and cutting the Dodgers' lead from 7-3 to 7-6.

Joe Beimel took over for Wade and calmed the waters by getting Todd Helton to ground into a rally-killing double play. DeWitt came through again in the eighth, drawing a key walk to load the bases. Furcal then beat out an infield single to drive in his fourth run, and Kemp followed with his screaming, three-run double.

Martin was one of five Dodgers with at least two hits and he raised an average that was .146 on April 13 to .295. His turnaround at the plate has helped the club go 8-1 since an April 23 team meeting.

Kemp also had a pair of hits and is hitting .316 with a team-high 21 RBIs and Furcal's three hits boosted his average to .380.

Juan Pierre and Jeff Kent, who tripled leading off the second but didn't score, also had a pair of hits.

The Dodgers defense turned three double-plays, including an important one in the seventh that required an acrobatic pivot by Furcal to complete.

The Dodgers ran their winning streak to seven games, their longest in two seasons, and when the Mets dumped Arizona the L.A. deficit dwindled to four games and while that isn't really close, the Dodgers can see the numbers on their backs now.

Los Angeles improved to 16-13, Colorado fell to 11-18, no frostbite was reported and the two teams will go at it again to night, starting an hour earlier than last night.

Tonight Esteban Loaiza (1-2, 4.15) starts for the Dodgers and will face Jorge De La Rosa, making his first start since being obtained from Kansas City. Loaiza is 4-4 with a 6.14 ERA in 13 career appearances - 12 starts - versus Colorado. Rockies first baseman Todd Helton is 8-for-13 (.615) with four doubles against him.
 Score by innings
Los Angeles	000 007 040-11	
Colorado 	111 000 300- 6

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	5  2  3  4  .380
Pierre lf	5  2  2  0  .283
 Hu 2b	        0  0  0  0  .250
Kemp rf	        5  1  2  4  .316
Kent 2b	        5  0  2  0  .297
 Park p	        0  0  0  0  .000
Martin c-3b	5  1  2  0  .296
Loney 1b	4  1  0  0  .270
Jones cf	5  1  1  0  .161
Bennett c	1  0  0  0  .111
 Sweeney ph	0  1  0  0  .100
 Wade p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Ethier ph-lf	1  0  0  0  .305
Penny p	        1  0  0  0  .286	
 DeWitt ph-3b	1  2  1  2  .278
  Totals	38 11 13 11
  Colorado	31  6  6  6

 Error-s DeWitt 2 (4). 2b hits- Kemp 2 (7),
Jones (4). 3b hit- Kent (1). HR- Furcal (4).
RBI- Kemp- 4 (21), Sweeney (1), DeWitt 2
(13), Furcal 4 (15). S- Penny. SB- Martin
(2), Kemp (6). LOB- Los Angeles 6, Colorado
5. DP- Martin and Loney; Kent, Furcal and
Loney; DeWitt and Loney.

 Los Angeles	ab  h  r-er bb so  era
Penny (5-2)	5.0  3  3-3  4  1  3.19
Wade        	1.0  1  3-0  0  0  1.80
Beimel	        1.0  0  0-0  1  0  0.82
Park	        2.0  2  0-0  0  0  2.65  
 HBP- by Wade. Att- 3:33. Att- 30,291.
Pitchers Near Reday
Despite the cold, pitchers Jonathan Broxton and Jason Schmidt had successful bullpen sessions before the game. Broxton, out with a strained side muscle, threw 25 pitches without any problem and is expected to be available for bullpen duty tonight. Schmidt threw 72 pitches, after which Torre said the right-hander was one simulated game away from being sent on a minor league rehab assignment. The simulated game will be Monday or Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. Torre said Schmidt would probably start his assignment with Class-A Inland Empire.

Good Company
Rafael Furcal, who has reached base via hit or walk in each of the Dodgers' 29 games, finished March/April among some elite company who should be considered for National League Player of the Month honors.  Furcal led the Majors with 43 hits during March/April. The six of the contenders, listed by batting average:  
	        AVG   2B   HR   RBI   OBP
Chipper Jones	.410   4    8    21  .455
Rafael Furcal	.381  12    3    11  .462
Albert Pujols 	.365   7    5    20  .523
Derek Lee     	.364   9    8    23  .437
Chase Utley    	.360  10   11    23  .430
Conor Jackson 	.348   5    5    25  .430
Dodger Blue Notes--Utility infielder Juan Castro, released by Cincinnati on Thursday, has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Rockies, according to his agent, Oscar Suarez. The Dodgers, Padres and Orioles were the other clubs interested for Castro's services. The decision was based on the fact he will probably start immediately because of Troy Tulowitzki's injury. ...Before the singing of the national anthem, a moment of silence was observed for former Dodgers general manager Buzzie Bavasi, who passed away Thursday. ...Tony Abreu reported to extended spring training in Vero Beach, Fla. He is a few days away from being sent on a minor league assignment, Torre said.

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