Working on three days’ rest, Penny looks to continue his dominance of the Colorado Rockies when he takes the mound for the Dodgers in the decisive game of their weekend series on Sunday.
Penny (14-3, 2.61 ERA) will start instead of Brett Tomko. After throwing a bullpen session Friday, the right-hander now will try to help Los Angeles (63-60) win its first series since July 16-18, when it took two of three from Philadelphia.
“It’ll only help this ballclub. He feels great, he wants to do it,” Los Angeles manager Grady Little told the Dodgers’ official Web site.
Los Angeles is in fourth place in the NL West, a season-worst 7 1/2 games behind division-leading Arizona. In the wild card race, though, the Dodgers are tied with Milwaukee for fifth and only 2 1/2 games behind co-leaders Philadelphia and San Diego.
Penny was victorious in his only career start when going on less than four days’ rest. He’s won both of his starts against the Rockies (63-59) this season, improving to 12-2 with a 2.69 ERA in 18 career starts against them.
He’s among four pitchers tied for the NL lead in wins with Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels, Atlanta’s Tim Hudson and Carlos Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs. Boston’s Josh Beckett and John Lackey of the Los Angeles Angels lead the majors with 15.
Penny earned his first win in four starts his last time out, giving up three runs and a season high-tying 10 hits in six innings of a 6-3 victory over Houston on Wednesday. He has yielded three earned runs or less in each of his last seven starts.
The Rockies will counter with their ace in Jeff Francis (13-6, 4.43 ERA).
The left-hander, though, is coming off the shortest start of his career, lasting just 3 1-3 innings in an 8-0 loss to San Diego on Tuesday. After going 8-0 in his previous 11 starts, Francis gave up a season-high eight runs and tied his career high with six walks against the Padres.
Francis has posted a 2.51 ERA en route to winning each of his two starts against the Dodgers this season, and is 3-1 with a 2.80 ERA in seven career starts against them. The Dodgers’ Jeff Kent, however, is 8-for-16 against Francis.
Kent, though, went hitless in six at-bats as Los Angeles lost 7-4 to Colorado in 14 innings Saturday night in a game that lasted just over five hours. Matt Holliday singled home the go-ahead run, and Brad Hawpe added a two-run single off Roberto Hernandez to close out the scoring.
The win was a relief for Rockies manager Clint Hurdle after watching his team strand 12 baserunners and come up empty on a bases-loaded opportunity with none out in the 11th.
“One of the good things we’ve been able to do all year long is when we experience a setback or have a little failure, we just move forward and try to create a new opportunity,” he said. “Tonight was a perfect example of not executing in some situations that cost us, but continuing to play hard. Nobody dropped their head.”
Rockies first baseman Todd Helton went 2-for-7 with two runs. Helton, though, is batting .256 in his last 80 games—dropping his overall average from .397 to .298. Helton, who’s batted over .300 each season since 1998, is hitting just .273 (12-for-44) in his career against Penny.