It’s been nearly three weeks since a starter for the Los Angeles Dodgers earned a win. They hope one of the NL’s best pitchers this season can halt that skid.
Los Angeles’ starting pitchers are 0-13 with a 5.38 ERA in 16 games since Penny (13-3, 2.54 ERA) beat Colorado on July 26. The staff’s struggles, though, have been just one of the Dodgers’ problems recently—they’ve lost 13 of 16 games, have been held to two or fewer runs in seven of their last nine contests and are batting a major-league worst .229 this month.
“We’re just not getting it done,” Jeff Kent said. “We’re not pitching well, we’re not hitting well, we’re not running the bases well. There’s a lot of things we’re not doing well.”
Penny hopes to turn things around and try to tie Carlos Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs for the NL lead in wins. Penny is 0-2 in his last three starts despite a 2.70 ERA and received only one run of support. He allowed five hits in seven shutout innings on Friday, but didn’t get a decision in the Dodgers’ 2-1 win over St. Louis.
“I had all three pitches I could throw for strikes, and that helped a lot,” said Penny, who’s 0-2 with a 5.84 ERA in four career starts against the Astros (54-65). “I always tell myself, good pitching gets good hitting out.”
A 7-4 loss to Houston on Tuesday dropped Los Angeles to 2-10 since Aug. 1. After holding a share of the NL West lead as recently as July 30, they’ve fallen into fourth place, 6 1/2 games behind division-leading Arizona.
“It can’t get any worse. It can only get better,” Los Angeles manager Grady Little said. “The only thing I wish is the players we have here would do better. It’s going to take everyone doing their little part, not one person.”
The team got more bad news on Tuesday, when it placed third baseman Nomar Garciaparra on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left calf. Garciaparra, who is on the DL for the ninth time in his career and third time in less than two seasons with the Dodgers, said the injury has plagued him for more than a week.
“I was still running hard throughout the week and it wasn’t bothering me too bad, so I was able to get by with it. But it just got progressively worse,” he said. “So before it gets really bad, I figured let’s try to control this and put a stop to it now.”
The Astros improved to 4-1 against the Dodgers this year with their fourth straight win on Tuesday. Overall, Houston has won six of eight, including three straight, but hasn’t won four in a row since May 12-16.
Carlos Lee went 2-for-4 with a run, and is batting .364 (20-for-55) in 13 games this month.
Jason Jennings (2-7, 6.15) will start for the Astros, who are winless in the right-hander’s four appearances - three starts - since he beat the Dodgers 7-4 on July 24. Jennings is 7-8 with a 4.18 ERA in 20 career starts against Los Angeles, but just 1-6 with a 3.88 ERA in 10 starts at Dodger Stadium.
His teams are winless in his nine games at Dodger Stadium since he won his debut there Aug. 29, 2001 while with Colorado.
On Friday, Jennings was reached for four runs in 5 1-3 innings of Houston’s 5-4, 11-inning loss to Milwaukee. The Astros are 3-13 in Jennings’ 16 starts this year.
The Dodgers’ Rafael Furcal is 11-for-29 (.379) in his career against Jennings, while Kent is 15-for-41 (.366) with four homers against him.
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