Phil Garner: We want Clemens back in Houston
Garciaparra hopes to keep up his strong recent play and lead the Dodgers to a season-high fifth straight victory Wednesday night when they take on the struggling Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium.
Los Angeles (16-17) won its fourth straight Tuesday by opening this three-game series with a 12-7 victory. Jeff Kent’s three-run homer capped a tiebreaking six-run rally in the eighth inning and Garciaparra also homered and drove in three runs.
Garciaparra went 2-for-5 in the victory and is 8-for-20 with eight RBIs during Los Angeles’ winning streak. The Dodgers had won only three of the new first baseman’s first 11 starts before their current run.
Los Angeles has scored double-digit runs in back-to-back games for the first time this season after a 10-2 victory over Milwaukee on Sunday. The Dodgers produced 14 hits in both contests.
Third baseman Bill Mueller returned to the lineup after missing three games with knee problems and went 1-for-5.
The Dodgers bullpen was also terrific as four relievers combined to allow one run and six hits over the final 5 2-3 innings. Los Angeles relievers have a 2.70 ERA over the last four games.
Houston (19-14) fell to 0-5 on its seven-game road trip—its longest losing streak of the season. Starter Andy Pettitte was tagged for six runs over five innings and relievers Dan Wheeler and Dave Borkowski combined to allow six runs in the decisive bottom of the eighth.
Astros slugger Lance Berkman was hitless in five at-bats and is 4-for-20 with no RBIs on the road trip. Only 14 of his 36 RBIs have come on the road.
“I’ve never played a season in the major leagues where you haven’t had to face some sort of adversity and had some kind of a losing streak like this,” Berkman said. “But we have enough character guys in here to be able to overcome it.”
Brett Tomko (3-1, 3.41 ERA) has been outstanding in his last three outings for Los Angeles, going 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in that stretch. He did not win his last outing despite allowing five hits over seven scoreless innings in a 3-0 loss to San Diego on Thursday.
“I tweaked a couple of things in the bullpen this week, and it worked. I felt more comfortable with my off-speed stuff,” Tomko said. “It would have been a lot nicer if we would have come out with the win.”
The veteran right-hander is 4-5 with a 4.90 ERA in 13 career starts against Houston.
Impressive Houston rookie Taylor Buchholz (2-1, 2.16) will oppose Tomko in his fifth career start. Buchholz is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA since joining the rotation on April 17.
The right-hander failed to record a decision his last time out after allowing three runs and six hits over seven innings in a 5-4 loss at Colorado last Friday.