Maddux Battered but Dodgers Pick Up Ground

The Dodgers aren't talking about it but speculation that the club would go with three starters in the playoffs -- Chad Billingsley, Derek Lowe and then either Hiroki Kuroda or Greg Maddux -- may be revised after the Giants thumped Maddux for seven runs in five innings and came away with a 7-1 victory. Despite the loss the Dodgers magic number slipped to six when Colorado tagged Arizona 3-2.

Over his last 13 starts against San Francisco, Maddux lost for the first time since May 9, 2003. That sort of information is irrelevant, of course, after the loss. It is the time of the year that bad teams play well and good teams get shaky.

After an 0-8 start, Barry Zito's win gave him a 10-16 record and underlined the fact that Los Angeles should do their upmost to clinch the NL West in the next six home games and not think about going into San Francisco the final three games of the year with any loose strings.

However, Zito is 100-6 in 127 career starts when getting at least four runs of support and he received that and more.

That sort of thing has pretty much determined Maddux's fate with the Dodgers thus far. Maddux is only 1-4 with a 5.71 ERA in six starts since L.A. reacquired him from San Diego on Aug. 19 but he has been given only a total of six runs in his four losses and one no-decision. Cy Young himself couldn't win with that sort of support.

Zito's shutout was spoiled by an unlikely Dodger. Pablo Ozuna hit his first home run in Dodger Blue in the eighth inning to put the Dodgers on the board for the first time, He had played 80 games since his previous homer on Aug. 17, 2006.

The win snapped a four game losing streak for the Giants and a seven-game home winning streak for Los Angeles.

"I hate the word spoiler. That means we're out of it. We're just trying to win games," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "Sure, there's some history here between these two clubs, and we're going to do all we can to win ballgames. With the fans and the players, there's added incentive to play well here."

Bengie Molina, who had four RBI for the Dodgers seemed to feel the same way. "I'm not that type of player, I'm sorry," he said when asked how much he enjoyed spoiling the Dodgers' party. "I'm being honest. I don't get caught up in that stuff."

Maddux gave up seven runs and nine hits in five innings, preventing the right-hander from getting his 355th career win and breaking a tie with Roger Clemens for eighth place. In the third inning, Maddux became the 13th pitcher in major league history to reach 5,000 innings.

"They got me," Maddux said after the game. "I threw a couple of changeups that probably didn't do what I would have liked them to. They hit some balls that I thought I threw pretty good, and they found holes. I didn't help us stay in the game."

He allowed hits to three of his first four batters after pitching seven scoreless innings and allowing only two ground ball singles last Sunday in a no-decision against Colorado.

Molina's two-RBI single in the first inning was all Zito and the Giants would need, but no one knew at the time.

The Dodgers threatened in the bottom of the inning when Andre Ethier walked and Manny Ramirez hit a little wedge shot that dropped just behind the San Francisco first baseman for a hit.

Casey Blake then smacked a bullet at the Giants first baseman and he stepped on the bag for an inning-ending double play.

Former Dodger Dave Roberts singled in a run in the third and a four-run fourth inning put things away for good.

Ramirez got himself turned around on a two-out fly ball in the fourth and it dropped for a two-run double. Had the ball been caught, the Giants wouldn't have scored. As it was, San Francisco led 7-0 going into the bottom of the inning. When the inning ended, the packed house booed the Dodgers as they came off the field.

Asked the difference between Maddux's seven strong innings in Colorado and his performance against the Giants, catcher Danny Ardoin, who caught him in both games, said "Not really much. Yeah, in Colorado he almost perfect. But most of his trouble tonight started with ground balls that just got through. They could have been hit at somebody."

But not even the loss could keep the Dodgers' magic number from being trimmed to six, as the Diamondbacks lost 3-2 to the Rockies, leaving the bases loaded in the ninth inning and the Dodgers margin 3 1/2 games.

"That's the silver lining," said Casey Blake.

Los Angeles has won 15 of 19 without dropping consecutive games. They are hoping that sequence continues.

They call on RHP Hiroki Kuroda (9-10, 3.77 ERA) today to get back on track.?Kuroda was zeroing in on his third shutout of the season in his last start but manager Joe Torre chose instead to take a look Takashi Saito and Brad Penny. Kuroda allowed only three hits and one walk over seven scoreless innings and used only 83 pitches. Against the Giants this year, he has been hot and cold. He allowed seven runs in 3.2 innings on July 28 and then one run on eight innings on Aug. 9.

The Giants' RHP Brad Hennessey (1-2, 8.04 ERA) is coming off his first Major League complete game, although it was a losing one when Adam Dunn's two-run, tiebreaking homer with two outs in the eighth gave Arizona a 3-1 victory. He faced the Dodgers in relief on April 1, allowing two runs in two-thirds of an inning.

 Score by innings
San Francisco	210 040 000-7	
Los Angeles	000 000 010-1

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Kemp cf	        4  0  2  0  .292
Ethier rf	3  0  1  0  .301
Ramirez lf	3  0  2  0  .396
 Repko lf	1  0  0  0  .154
Blake 3b	3  0  0  0  .251
 Troncoso p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Johnson p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Sweeney ph	0  0  0  0  .138
Loney 1b	4  0  0  0  .294
DeWitt 3b	4  0  0  0  .259
Berroa ss	4  0  0  0  .242
Ardoin c	3  0  0  0  .227
Maddux p	1  0  0  0  .113
 Young ph	1  0  0  0  .252
 McDonald p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Ozuna 2b	1  1  1  1  .250
  Totals	32 1  6 1
  San Francisco	38 7 12 7

 Two-base hits- Ramirez (13). HR- Ozuna (1). 
RBI- Ozuna (3). LOB- Los Angeles 6, San 
Francisco 5.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Maddux (1-4)	5.0  9  7-7  0  1  4.31
McDonald	2.0  2  0-0  0  0  0.00
Troncoso	1.0  0  0-0  0  1  4.46
Johnson	        1.0  1  0-0  0  1  5.02
  T- 2:37. Att- 55,585.
Dodger Blue Notes-- With a win today, the Dodgers would guarantee themselves at least a .500 season for the third straight season and eight of the past nine years. The Dodgers enter Saturday with a 763-684 (.527) record since 2000, with the 71-91 season of 2005 the only sub-.500 mark. ...Los Angeles slipped to 7-6 against San Francisco this season. ...Andre Ethier is 5-for-9 (.556) with a double, triple, homer, three RBIs and four walks in his career against Hennessey. ...Russell Martin, who is 3-for-20 against Zito with seven strikeouts, got a rare night off. ...During the four-game series in Pittsburgh, the Pirates only drew a total of 50,480 fans. ...The Dodgers will hold their 11th annual "Viva Los Dodgers" celebration Saturday from 1-6 p.m. PT in Dodger Stadium's Parking Lot 1. The festival will include live music, a Manny Ramirez look-alike contest and special appearances by Dodgers Spanish broadcasters Fernando Valenzuela, Jaime Jarrin and Pepe Yniguez. Fans can enter for free with a game ticket for any remaining Dodgers home game. ... The Dodgers will unveil moments Nos. 40 through 31 in their history Saturday. ... U.S. men's volleyball Olympic gold medalist Ryan Millar threw out a ceremonial first pitch before Friday's game.