Looking to become the first 16-game winner in the NL, Brad Penny tries to help the Los Angeles Dodgers widen their lead atop the West—and bounce back from a heartbreaking loss to the lowly Chicago Cubs—when the teams meet at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night.
Penny (15-8, 4.21 ERA), tied for the league lead in victories with Arizona’s Brandon Webb, will try to rebound from a rough outing Thursday. He gave up a season-high seven runs and 10 hits, including two homers, in 5 2-3 innings of a 7-0 loss to the New York Mets.
“Breaks,” Penny said. “It could have been a totally different line. My changeup was the best in my career. The fastball feels good. I don’t care about the numbers. It’s just the way the ball bounces sometimes.”
The right-hander’s run total was his highest since June 29, 2003, when he allowed nine runs in an 11-7 loss at Boston while pitching for Florida.
Penny is 1-2 with a 3.08 ERA in six starts against the Cubs. He lost his only start at Wrigley Field, giving up five runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-3 defeat on Aug. 30, 2005.
The Dodgers will look to Penny to help them pull closer to their second division crown in three seasons, as they sit 1 1/2 games ahead of San Diego. The Padres, who lead the wild-card race, lost 5-4 in 11 innings to Cincinnati on Tuesday night.
The Cubs own the worst record in the NL at 58-87—making the Dodgers’ 9-8, 11-inning defeat to them Tuesday night that much worse. Los Angeles (76-68) blew a 7-0 lead and lost even though Chicago committed six errors.
“Every game is important for us right now,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. “You don’t like the thought of being up 7-0 and losing. That game was decided in the fifth, not the 11th.”
The Cubs, who have won two in a row for the first time since a four-game winning streak from Aug. 13-16, send Angel Guzman (0-5, 7.53) to the mound Wednesday looking for his first career victory.
The 24-year-old rookie has pitched six innings only once in his last seven starts. He allowed six runs and seven hits, including three homers, in 4 1-3 innings of an 8-4 loss to Atlanta on Friday.
“When you fall behind in the count with the hitters, then you have to throw strikes,” Guzman said. “I hung a lot of pitches in the middle, and they hit them pretty well. Every hit they got tonight was right in the middle.
“It’s all about the command and hitting the spot, and I wasn’t able to do that because I fell into 2-0, 3-2 counts,” he said. “I have to be better than that.”
The right-hander has never faced the Dodgers.
Since pitching six innings of one-run ball in Chicago’s 2-1 loss to Philadelphia on Aug. 23, Guzman has posted a 12.75 ERA in his last three starts, getting pulled before making it through the fifth inning each time.
“We don’t have a lot of options without ‘Z’ in there,” Baker said, referring to injured ace Carlos Zambrano.
Chicago leads the season series with Los Angeles 3-1.