An NL All-Star in 2006, Brad Penny is pitching like one again at the start of 2007.
The Dodgers right-hander will try for his fourth straight victory Saturday night when Los Angeles hosts the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second of a three-game set.
Penny (3-0, 0.89 ERA), who started last season’s All-Star game after going 10-2 with a 2.91 ERA before the break but slumped to a 6-7 record and 6.25 ERA in the second half, has allowed two earned runs in 20 1-3 innings in 2007.
“I think what you’re seeing this year from Brad Penny is that he’s not out there grunting on every pitch, trying to throw 110 (mph),” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. “What he’s doing right now, he’s pitching, he’s not throwing. And he’s getting good results.”
The eight-year veteran allowed one run and five hits in seven innings of the Dodgers’ 5-1 win at Arizona on Monday. Penny is 3-2 with a 4.18 ERA in nine career starts against the Pirates.
If the Dodgers (12-5) hit like they did in Friday’s series-opening 10-2 win, Penny could be in for an easy night. Los Angeles scored eight runs in the first three innings and finished with 13 hits to win its second straight game and fifth in its last six.
“Everybody is rolling right now,” said Dodgers catcher Russell Martin, whose team owns the best record in baseball.
Pierre, who signed with Los Angeles after one season with the Cubs, has multiple hits in five straight games and is batting .500 (11-for-22) with nine runs scored during that span to raise his average to .278. The center fielder is 4-for-9 with a homer lifetime against Ian Snell (1-1, 1.80), who will start Saturday for the Pirates.
The right-hander has allowed one run in each of his last two starts, including a 3-2 win at St. Louis on Monday, when he limited the Cardinals to three hits in seven innings. Snell is 1-1 with a 7.50 ERA in four starts against the Dodgers.
After sweeping a two-game series at St. Louis, Pittsburgh has lost three straight to fall to 2-3 on its seven-game road trip.
Pirates (6-9) hitters struck out 12 times Friday - 10 by Wolf - to give them 36 strikeouts in their last three games.
“We got the hell beat out of us,” Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. “We dug another big hole for ourselves and we struck out an awful lot again - too much.”
Jason Bay went 2-for-4 for the Pirates on Friday, his 11th straight game reaching base safely by either hit or walk. The left fielder is 4-for-10 with two doubles lifetime against Penny.