Not a Happy 30th Birthday for Penny

Starter Brad Penny turned 30 years old and made his 11th start of the season on a day that the Dodgers would do without Nomar Garciaparra, Andruw Jones, Rafael Furcal and with Jeff Kent hitting .228. He hit 97 on the speed gun but allowed three hits of the four hits St. Louis managed during the evening and all four runs in the third inning as the suddenly-impotent Dodgers dropped a 4-0 decision.

Excluding the third, Penny allowed only one hit in the other six innings he pitched, facing the minimum 15 Cardinals and retiring 11 straight at one time but the four-run third inning was the clincher and the Dodgers slipped to 25-23 and remain 3 1/2 behind the Snakes who are stumbling a bit, too.

For the second night in a row, the Dodgers' offense was absent without leave and were never in the game, and they have been hitless in their past 21 at-bats with runners in scoring position over the first two games in the series.

Penny had been hampered by shoulder stiffness that pushed back his previous start by a day, but he said, "That's the best I've felt in five years. For me, it's kind of peace of mind to have my stuff, especially after being a little tender and getting pushed back."

He had only the one bad inning and with the team in such a funk, that was one too many.

"They didn't hit the ball that hard," noted Penny. "But with two outs and nobody on, I've got to get out of that inning."

Penny rolled easily into the third and with two outs, issued consecutive four-pitch walks. From that point it only took six pitches to put the game out of reach.

Chris Duncan singled in one run. Kemp, Jones' replacement in center field, was unable to make a diving catch on Albert Pujols' sinking liner and, with neither Kent or Chin-Lung Hu covering second base, Pujols was allowed an easy double. Then Rick Ankiel lined an opposite-field, a two-run double just inside the left-field line and, in effect, the game was over, much to the dismay of the 44,000+ in attendance.

After an impressive sweep of the Cincinnati Reds, the only run the Dodgers have been able to manage in the first two games of the Cardinals series came on pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney's sacrifice fly in the opener.

In this game, the Dodgers went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven runners. The offense let down both Penny and Derek Lowe (who lost 2-1 in the opener) and under normal circumstances, they would have pitched well enough to keep the team in the game.

"We're not doing a very good job swinging the bats right now," said manager Joe Torre in a masterful bit of understatement. "We're a little impatient. It's frustrating. We're looking for Lowe and Penny to get back on track and they shut out the other club for all but two innings and we lose two games."

The starting staff, under fire for not working deep enough into games, suddenly has recorded four consecutive starts of at least seven innings each. But that is only half of the equation and Kershaw won't be able to do much about that. You have to score to win, but it's much more difficult to do than to say.

"A lot of it is inexperience," said Torre. "Young players mature at their own speed. They have to learn by going up there that certain things don't work. They try to get too big and too long in the swing, try to hit the ball too hard. We try to remind them to keep small and big things happen."

Juan Pierre was 3-for-4. Andre Ethier, batting second, was 2-for-4. The rest of the lineup shared the other two hits and all of the hits were singles.

With Jones to undergo surgery, and Garciaparra moved to the 60-day disabled list, the kids are going to have to pick up the pieces if the team is to stay in contention.

The only bright spot of the day came earlier when Penny's thoroughbred horse, Synnin and Grinnin, won the sixth race at Hollywood Park. They way things have been going, it's a wonder the jockey didn't fall off the horse.
 Score by innings
St. Louis	004 000 000-4
Los Angeles	000 000 000-0	

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Pierre lf	4  0  3  0  .289
Ethier rf	4  0  2  0  .289
Martin c	4  0  1  0  .309
Kent 2b	        4  0  1  0  .228
Loney 1b	4  0  0  0  .282
Kemp cf	        4  0  0  0  .317
DeWitt 3b	3  0  1  0  .315
Hu ss	        3  0  0  0  .197
Penny p	        2  0  0  0  .200
 Kuo p	        0  0  0  0  .333
 Young ph	1  0  0  0  .269
 Proctor p	0  0  0  0  .000
  Totals	33 0 8 0
  St. Louis	29 4 4 4

 CS- Pierre (4). LOB- Los Angeles 7, St.
Louis 1. DP- Hu, Kent and Loney; Loney,
Hu and Penny.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er  bb  so  era
Penny (5-5)	7.0  4  4-4  2  5  5.32
Kuo	        1.0  0  0-0  0  0  2.32
Proctor	        1.0  0  0-0  0  2  5.09
 HBP- by Penny. T-2:32. Att- 44.785.
Jones, Nomar Out For Some Time
Andruw Jones will will undergo an arthroscopic procedure on his knee called a debridement to repair a tear of the medial meniscus (the cartilage) in his right knee. He'll be out four to six weeks, and with his average well below the Mendoza Line (.167) and without any power (2 home runs, seven RBI), his down time won't hurt the club.

Jones, who had never been disabled in a 12-year career, signed a two-year, $36.2 million contract with the Dodgers in December to provide the threatening bat the lineup had been missing.

"Hopefully, this not only will help him physically, but also help his game," said general manager Ned Colletti. "He took three days of rest, came back yesterday, but called Stan Conte and said he has to get it fixed. We need to get him back to the player he's been.

"I've contended all along his approach at the plate is impossible to hit with his rear leg collapsing."

Jones reported to Spring Training overweight and has shown none of the power the club had hoped for. Last Sunday, Jones complained of knee pain and on Monday conceded he had been playing with discomfort "for months" but was confident he could play through the pain.

Jones was placed on the 15-day disabled list and just before game time they added utility man Terry Tiffee, who is having an outstanding season at Las Vegas. To make room for him, Nomar goes to the 60-day DL.

Hot Hand
Tiffee, who plays first and third base plus the outfield, was a free-agent pickup in the off-season but saw little action during spring training.

"He's off to a good start," 51s manager Lorenzo Bundy said. "He swung the bat real well the last four or five days of spring training and carried that into the start of the season. He and Big John Lindsey have pretty much carried us."

Tiffee, who hit .226 in 91 games in parts of three seasons (2004 to 2006) with the Minnesota Twins, entered this season with a .286 career average in the minors but quickly blew past that mark so far this spring.

He was hitting .422 average for the 51s when he got on the plate to Los Angeles, with a league-leading 81 hits, 24 doubles and 38 runs batted in plus a .464 on-base percentage.

"He's always been a solid Triple-A hitter," Bundy said. "I guess the knock on him was he never had big home run numbers, and a lot of times teams are looking for corner power. I think he can play up there. He can hit and just needed to get a chance."

Tiffee, 28, was a 26th-round pick of the Twins in 1999 and batted better than .300 in three of his first five professional seasons. He reached the majors for the first time with Minnesota in 2004 and had two hits in his debut, including a game-winning two-run double.

Tiffee was hoping to get a chance to play third base for the Dodgers when injuries left them short-handed at the position this spring, but Los Angeles handed the job to Blake DeWitt, who skipped Triple A on his way to the majors.

"I thought I'd at least get a little more of a look at third base in camp," Tiffee said. "But you kind of get used to getting overlooked for organizational players who come up in the the club's own system.

"I just played hard, put up numbers and hoped they'll would open their eyes and see and give me a look."

Kershaw Excited
"It's a dream come true, and I've been beside myself. Anytime you hear those words -- you're leaving for L.A. -- that's what you dream about and work so hard for. It's awesome. Now, I've got to prove myself here," he told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

No young pitcher has arrived on the Dodgers scene with this much hype since Ramon Martinez debuted with 7.2 innings against the Giants Aug. 9, 1988, a pretty good year in Dodgers history.

"Expectations are great," said Kershaw. "It just means somebody thinks highly of you. I put enough pressure on myself, I don't worry about what other people think or say or talk about.

Torre said Kershaw will not be on a strict pitch count and indicated this would not be a one-time start but that he would likely remain in the rotation as long as results justified it.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Beginning in 2004, the Dodgers are 8-24 against the Redbirds. ...Rafael Furcal isn't going to Chicago and probably isn't going to New York, either. The main reason is that the flights out and back are long, and they are worried that his back will tighten up. "I would think he would have to be really, really good and really, really certain before we would put him on a plane for New York later in the week," Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said. ...Penny has only pitched on his birthday one other time, beating the Reds at Cincinnati on May 24, 2003, when he allowed just two runs in 6.0 innings. Over his last four starts, he was 0-3 with a 9.13 ERA. ...The players deked rookie Clayton Kershaw before the game, slipping him Jason Schmidt's jersey number 29 instead of the number 54 he had been issued. He got onto the field before the switch was noticed...Prior to the game, the Dodgers celebrated their 1960s heroes with a luncheon and a pregame ceremony honoring legends such as Tommy Davis, Chuck Essegian, Ron Fairly, Steve Garvey, Roy Gleason, Jim "Mudcat" Grant, "Sweet" Lou Johnson, Ken McMullen, Wes Parker, and Maury Wills. During the 60s, the Dodgers went 878-724 (.546), winning two World Championships (1963 and '65) and three NL pennants ('63, '65, '66). Forty-one years ago today on May 24, 1967, Claude Osteen, who flew in from Texas for today's event, fired a complete game in the Dodgers' 6-3 win over the Mets. ...The Dodgers have hit just two home runs in their last nine games at Dodger Stadium and first baseman James Loney cracked both of them (May 11 vs. Houston May 21 vs. Cincinnati). The club had just 15 overall, which ranks 28th in the Majors at home. Only the Nationals (13), and Royals (nine) have hit fewer home runs in their own ballpark. Overall, the Dodgers are tied with Washington for 26th in the Majors with 32 home runs.  

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