Brad Penny followed up a strong first half with a terrible second half in 2006. One start into the second half of this season, the right-hander appears ready for a better stretch run.
In his first start after the All-Star break, Penny (11-1, 2.33 ERA) allowed one run and four hits in seven innings to beat Philadelphia 10-3 on Monday. It was the sixth time in seven starts he held his opponent to one run.
“I was a bit uncomfortable at first because I hadn’t pitched in a while, but the last three or four innings I started hitting my spots,” said Penny, who went 6-7 with a 6.25 ERA in the second half of 2006, after posting a 10-2 record and a 2.91 ERA before the All-Star break.
Penny, who hasn’t lost since May 18, is looking to become the first Dodgers starter to win seven consecutive decisions since Kevin Brown won nine in a row April 29-June 17, 2003.
Penny has struggled against the Mets, though, going 4-10 with a 5.82 ERA in 17 career starts against them. The losses are his most against any opponent.
However, Penny held the Mets to one run in seven innings on June 13, getting the decision in the Dodgers’ 9-1 victory.
Los Angeles (54-43) hopes for a repeat performance as it tries to rebound from its first back-to-back losses since the All-Star break. The Dodgers, who lost Thursday night’s series opener 13-9, fell 4-1 on Friday after the Mets scored three runs in the eighth inning.
The Mets (54-42) have won five of seven games to reclaim a share of the NL’s best record along with NL Central-leading Milwaukee. Carlos Beltran has helped key the surge, going 6-for-16 (.375) with two home runs and three doubles in his last four games.
New York did get some bad news Friday night. The Mets lost second baseman Jose Valentin to a broken leg in the fourth inning. Valentin fouled a pitch off his right leg, fracturing his tibia.
“It’s probably going to take me all the way until September to come back and play,” said Valentin, hitting .240 with three homers and 18 RBIs in 51 games. “They’re going to put a cast on it and I guess I have to be like that for six weeks. Hopefully, the team can play well and give me a shot to be in the playoffs.”
Jorge Sosa (7-4, 3.84) will take the mound for New York. In his first start since returning from the disabled list with a hamstring injury, the right-hander gave up two runs in six innings on Monday. He was charged with the tough-luck loss in the Mets’ 5-1 defeat at San Diego.
Sosa gave up a season-high six earned runs to lose to Penny and the Dodgers on June 13, raising his career ERA against Los Angeles to 5.63 in six career games, including two starts.