The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Brad Penny and the San Diego Padres’ Jake Peavy are the NL’s leading candidates for the Cy Young Award. Both pitchers have been instrumental in helping their teams rise to the top of the tight NL West.
Separated by just a game, Penny and Peavy square off Saturday as the division rivals continue their key three-game series at Dodger Stadium.
San Diego (45-33) took a one-game lead over third-place Los Angeles (45-35) with Friday’s series-opening 7-6 victory. Second-place Arizona is one-half game out of first in the highly competitive division.
“The way the West is set up, you definitely don’t want to fall too far behind because there are some good teams,” Dodgers center fielder Juan Pierre said. “You can make up ground or put distance in between you by playing these teams heads-up. We did a good job with Arizona and now we’ve got to protect the home front.”
The Dodgers have thrived with Penny (10-1, 2.04 ERA) on the mound this season, going an impressive 14-2 in his starts. They are 7-1 in his outings at Dodger Stadium, with Penny posting a remarkable 1.38 ERA in those games.
Peavy (9-2, 2.14) has provided the Padres similar success, as San Diego is 12-4 when he starts. Peavy has been sensational on the road, going 4-0 with a major league-leading 0.88 ERA in six starts away from Petco Park.
Los Angeles has won Penny’s last seven starts overall, as the right-hander has matched his single-season career high by winning five straight decisions in that span. Penny, who started last year’s All-Star game for the NL, has posted a 1.47 ERA during his win streak.
He allowed one run and four hits in eight innings of an 8-1 victory over the Diamondbacks on Monday, moving into the NL lead in wins.
“Penny’s been lights out the whole year,” Dodgers catcher Russell Martin told the team’s official Web site. “You can just tell he’s got confidence, his composure’s great and he’ll give his best effort.”
Penny has yet to face the Padres this season, but went 0-2 with an 8.55 ERA in four starts against them last year. Since being traded to Los Angeles in 2004, he is only 1-4 with a 6.69 ERA in seven games against San Diego.
Neither Penny nor Peavy was particularly sharp when they faced each other last Sept. 18, as each gave up four runs in five innings of a 10-inning, 11-10 Los Angeles victory at Dodger Stadium.
Coming off a rare loss, Peavy looks to get back on track against a Dodgers team he has historically dominated. The Padres ace is 5-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his last 10 starts against Los Angeles, and 7-1 with a 2.52 ERA in 15 outings lifetime.
He gave up one run and three hits in seven innings of a 7-2 win at Dodger Stadium on April 14.
However, Peavy yielded three runs and nine hits in a season-low five innings during a 4-2 loss to Boston on Sunday.
“I don’t feel like I got hit all over the ballpark, by any means,” he said. “I felt good about myself and everything I did out there, except I lost.”
The right-hander has not lost consecutive starts since July 16 and 21 of last season, and has not lost to Los Angeles since 2003.
The Padres have won three straight following a 1-5 stretch. They are looking for their second winning streak of at least four games in June, after a season-high five-game run from June 2-7.
San Diego rookie Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a three-run homer on Friday - his second home run in his last three games.
The Dodgers have lost four straight games to the Padres, and 19 of their last 26 against them dating back to last season.
Pierre went 3-for-5 with three stolen bases on Friday, but is just 2-for-18 (.111) in his career against Peavy.