Brad Penny - the majors’ ERA leader - will try to keep his perfect record intact when the Dodgers (21-15) continue their weekend series with the Reds on Saturday night.
Los Angeles got seven scoreless innings and 11 strikeouts from Randy Wolf en route to a 2-0 victory in Friday night’s series opener. The Dodgers haven’t lost to the Reds (15-21) since July 28, 2005, and the latest victory allowed the NL West leaders to maintain a 1 1/2-game lead over second-place Arizona and stay two games ahead of third-place San Diego.
While winning his last three starts against the Reds, Penny (4-0, 1.39 ERA) has given up just three runs and eight hits in 18 innings but has yielded nine walks. The right-hander is 5-2 with a 3.34 ERA and .196 opponent batting average in nine career starts versus Cincinnati.
After striking out 13 times against Wolf and two relievers, the Reds will step back into the box against a pitcher trying to follow up a personal best from his last outing. Facing the team with whom he helped win a World Series title four years ago, Penny fanned a career-high 14 over seven shutout innings Monday in a 6-1 win over Florida.
“(Penny) kept himself well under control,” Dodgers manager Grady Little told the team’s official Web site. “He made a lot of good pitches. He just played hardball with them, but didn’t play too hard … he stayed within himself and let his natural ability take over.”
Penny, who scattered five hits, became the first Los Angeles pitcher to strike out 14 in a game since Chan Ho Park in 2000, against Milwaukee, and the first to start a season 4-0 since Kazuhisa Ishii began 2002 with a 6-0 record.
Penny, though, hasn’t gotten a decision in three home starts since limiting Colorado to two hits over 6 1-3 innings of a 3-0 win on April 11.
Right-hander Kyle Lohse (1-3, 3.21 ERA) will make his first career start against the Dodgers for Cincinnati. The seven-year veteran faced Los Angeles twice in relief last year, allowing a run and five hits over three innings.
“It’s fun to come back here and pitch in a stadium that I did watch a lot on TV,” Lohse, a Northern California native, said before Friday’s game. “Anytime you start in one of the older ballparks, it’s pretty neat.”
Lohse comes in having lost three consecutive starts. Pitching against Houston for the second time in five days, Lohse allowed three runs and seven hits Monday in 7 1-3 innings of a 5-4 loss. During his losing streak, Lohse has gotten only seven runs of support while being tagged for 11 runs and 26 hits in 19 1-3 innings.
Ken Griffey Jr. had two of Cincinnati’s five hits Friday, and is batting .330. Griffey, who has 569 home runs and needs five more to pass Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew for eighth place all-time, is hitting .375 (9-for-24) with three homers in his career against Penny.
The Reds have just two wins in their last 10 games overall, and are tied with Colorado for the second-worst record in the NL behind Washington.