Penny will try to eclipse his win total from last season as the Dodgers look to sweep a three-game set from the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.
Penny (7-2, 2.83 ERA) was acquired from Florida in 2004, but made only three starts before a nerve injury in his right biceps ended his season that August.
He started last season on the disabled list because of the injury, and went 7-9 with a 3.90 ERA in 29 starts.
This season, Penny has put the arm trouble behind him. He leads Los Angeles in wins and ERA, helping the Dodgers to a tie atop the NL West with San Diego.
The big right-hander will be looking to rebound from one of his worst starts of the season Tuesday, when he allowed a season-high tying five runs and season-worst 10 hits, including two home runs, in six innings of a 9-4 loss to Seattle.
“I just didn’t have great stuff,” Penny said. “I wasn’t locating like I usually do and got too many balls out over the plate. I just wasn’t making the pitches I should have at certain times.”
Prior to that start, Penny had allowed three total earned runs in his previous four outings.
Penny will look to follow up the performance of Aaron Sele, who scattered five hits over six innings in Los Angeles’ 7-0 victory Saturday.
Rookie left fielder Andre Ethier went 2-for-4 with four RBIs for the Dodgers, who won their third in a row to pull even with the Padres in the division.
Ethier is 6-for-9 (.667) in the last three games after going 4-for-21 (.190) in the previous seven.
“It’s a pretty special group of young kids that we’ve got—good quality people with good quality talent and really willing to learn,” Sele said. “And there’s enough veterans around to teach them the right way to do things.”
The Pirates will be looking to end a 10-game losing streak, their longest since 1939 when they dropped 12 in a row. Pittsburgh has been outscored 76-37 during its current skid.
“The important thing is to go out there every day, and execute and things will turn around,” said Pirates manager Jim Tracy, who is making his return to Dodger Stadium after managing Los Angeles from 2001-05 before being fired after last season.
Tracy will be counting on Kip Wells to be much better than he was in his season debut Tuesday as he takes the ball for the Pirates.
Wells (0-1, 16.30) allowed six runs and five hits with five walks in 3 1-3 innings of a 10-6 loss to Kansas City on Tuesday. It was his first start after undergoing surgery to repair a blood clot in his right armpit that caused him to miss the first 2 1/2 months of the season.
“Fortunately, my stuff was as good as it can be. I take heart in that,” Wells said. “But obviously you want to have consistent command.”
The right-hander, who went 8-18 with a 5.09 ERA last season, is 0-1 with a 4.05 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers. The loss came at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 26, when he gave up four runs in five innings of a 9-4 defeat.
Pittsburgh has dropped 10 of its last 11 games at Dodger Stadium.
Dodgers right fielder J.D. Drew, who sat out Saturday against Pirates left-hander Zach Duke after going 2-for-4 with two RBIs in Friday’s 10-4 victory, is 10-for-24 (.417) with three homers and seven RBIs against Wells.
Nomar Garciaparra will look to push his hitting streak to nine games. The NL’s leading hitter went 2-for-4 on Saturday and is 13-for-31 (.419) during his streak. He’s batting .361.
Garciaparra is hitting .346 with three homers and nine RBIs in 15 games against the Pirates.