Penny's Return Bad for Los Angeles

Brad Penny and Dodgers coach Larry Bowa met during the Dodgers-Giants series and settled their differences but that didn't mean the former Dodgers pitcher didn't enjoy smothering the Los Angeles offense until leaving in the eighth inning with a 7-2 lead.

Before moving to Boston as a free agent, Penny spent four-plus seasons in Los Angeles had had back-to-back 16-win seasons in 2006 and '07 before being slowed slowed by shoulder trouble last year.

When Penny determined to become a free agent, he criticized the Dodgers' coaching staff and singled out Bowa for talking behind his back after signing a free agent contract with Boston. Bowa quickly joined the battle by questioning Penny's work ethic and his commitment to the team.

"Me and Larry talked and it's over with," Penny said. "We both apologize. He wished me the best of luck and I wished him the best of luck. "That's the last you're going to hear about it."

Bowa acknowledge his misunderstanding about Penny's workout program, adding he was unaware Penny was working out at his Los Angeles home instead of at Dodger Stadium.

So Penny won his third straight game for the Giants who moved to within 4 1/2 games of Colorado who lost 7-3 to San Diego.

And while it was a 'must-win' game for the Giants, the Dodgers have bigger fish to fry.

Chad Billingsley (12-10) had his winless steak reach five since topping St. Louis on Aug. 18. His earned-run average climbed to a season-high 3.99 and is 5.63 ERA over his last 12 starts.

Billingsley was tagged for eight hits and three runs in four innings, but he struck out six and didn't walk a batter for the fifth time in 2008.

"I'm not getting hit around that hard but I do expect more out of myself," Billingsley said. "I'm just trying to figure something out and get turned around. I don't even know how to explain it."

Billingsley gave up at least one hit in each of his four innings, including a two-run home run to Juan Uribe in the second and a run-scoring double to Travis Ishikawa in the fourth.

Torre pinch-hit for him, unsuccessfully, and brought in Jeff Weaver who did a remarkable tight-wire act before falling off and missing the net in the sixth inning.

He had remarkable help from shortstop Rafael Furcal who even stunned the vocal San Francisco crowd in the fifth inning.

With runners at first and third with none out, James Loney grabbed a shot at first base and fired to Furcal for a force at second. Furcal smoothly turned and fired the ball, but not to first base, to Russell Martin at home in time to nail the surprised Freddy Sanchez for a 3-6-2 double play.

Weaver struck out the final Giant in the inning but then imploded in the sixth, allowing four singles and a walk over the first five batters. San Francisco scored four times to put the game on ice.

Penny could have taken a no-hitter into the sixth inning, after allowing a 40-foot dribbler that Andre Ethier beat out in the first and a ground ball back to the box by Matt Kemp that he attempted to kick-stop it like a hockey goalie but managed only to deflect it past the second baseman for a hit.

Juan Pierre, filling in for Manny Ramirez, lined a single to center to lead off the sixth for the first legitimate hit of the game for Los Angeles.

Casey Blake rifled a single to left off a tiring Penny in the seventh and Martin launched his second home run in two days, after hitting only four in the rest of the season, to score the only Dodgers runs.

Ronald Belisario followed Weaver and Scott Elbert had to come in to finally end the sixth inning. Ramon Troncoso struck out the side in the seventh and Charlie Haeger and his magical dancing knuckleball bamboozled the Giants so badly in the ninth, Rafael Furcal had to hid his face behind his glove so that they wouldn't seem him laughing.

"You're happy when you win two out of three, but when you win the first two you get a little greedy," Torre said.

James Loney, attempting to field a shot by Nate Schierholtz's down the first base line in the fourth inning, missed the ball but ran smack into umpire Sam Holbrook in foul ground.

Loney went down like a shot and that brought out Torre and the trainers but after a few minutes he collected himself, rubbed his neck and continued the game.

The Dodgers, who seem to bring their "A" game when they are playing Colorado or San Francisco, open a homestand against the last-place Pirates tonight and in a strange scheduling quirk, it will be the first games of the season between the two teams.

Andre Ethier tried, unsuccessfully, to explain why the Dodgers have taken series Rockies and Dodgers and then floundered against sub-.500 teams.

"Sometimes there's a tendency for complacency rather than just competing and playing every game the way you should. The Giants series is a natural rivalry, so you get up for them, and Colorado is on our heels. Pittsburgh is going to be a tough series. Who knows what they'll throw at us?"

Los Angeles will start RHP Jon Garland (9-11, 4.23 ERA) for the first time against someone without "Arizona" on their jerseys. He is 1-0 in two starts against the D-backs since they traded him to the Dodgers at the Aug. 31 deadline.

Pittsburgh will use RHP Daniel McCutchen (0-1, 4.85 ERA) in just his second Major League start.

 Score by innings
Los Angeles	000 000 200-2
San Francisco	020 104 00x-7

 Los Angeles	 ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	 3  0  0  0  .256
Pierre lf	 4  0  1  0  .313
Ethier rf	 3  0  1  0  .283
Kemp cf	         4  0  1  0  .305
Loney 1b	 1  0  0  0  .282
Blake 3b	 4  1  1  0  .278
Belliard 2b	 4  0  0  0  .251
Martin c	 4  1  1  2  .258
Billingsley p	 1  0  0  0  .192
 Mientkiewicz ph 1  0  0  0  .300
 Weaver p	 0  0  0  0  .231
 Belisario p	 0  0  0  0  .000
 Elbert p	 0  0  0  0  .000
 Loretta ph	 1  0  0  0  .222
 Troncoso p	 0  0  0  0  .000
 Haeger p	 0  0  0  0  .000
 Hudson ph	 1  0  0  0  .286
 Totals	         31 2  5 2
 San Francisco	 37 7 13 6

 Error- Billingsley (4). HR- Martin (6).
RBI- Martin 2 (48). LOB- Los Angeles 7,
San Francisco 7. DP- Loney, Furcal and
Martin; Furcal and Loney.

 Los Angeles	         in  h r-er bb so  era
Billingsley (12-10)      4.0  8  3-3  0  6  3.99
Weaver	                 1.1  5  4-4  1  2  3.84
Belisario	         0.1  2  0-0  0  1  1.99
Elbert	                 0.1  0  0-0  0  0  5.29
Troncoso	         1.0  0  0-0  0  3  2.56
Haeger	                 1.0  0  0-0  0  1  3.44
 WP- Billingsley, Belisario. HBP- Ethier.
T- 3:03. Att- 40, 579.
Dodger Blue Notes-- Russell Martin had nine RBIs on the Dodgers' recent six-game road trip, more than he had the previous five weeks. ...Ron Belliard got the start at second base over Orlando Hudson on Sunday, but he went 0-for-4 and is in a 1-for-13 skid. Hudson is 4-for-25 in his last eight games.