The right-hander is expected to come off the disabled list and make his first start in over seven weeks Friday night when the Dodgers open a three-game road set against the San Francisco Giants.
Penny (5-9, 5.88 ERA), who won 16 games in each of the previous two years and was third in the NL Cy Young Award balloting in 2007, had been bothered by a sore shoulder for most of the season. The two-time All-Star was taking pain medication before nearly every start, but that didn’t seem to help him over his last eight starts as he went 0-7 with an 8.52 ERA before landing on the DL.
The injury was evident in his last game on June 14, when he was tagged for seven runs and seven hits, including two homers, in a season-low 3 2-3 innings of a 12-7 loss at Detroit.
Penny, though, was strong during a four-inning rehab start Saturday for Triple-A Las Vegas, allowing two runs and six hits while throwing 67 pitches— 50 strikes. He’ll be limited to around 90 pitches Friday.
“We’re certainly going to look at it early in the game,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “I think we’ll know early how good he feels about himself. With his ability and his experience, he could certainly give us a little lift.”
Penny limited the Giants to only four hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-0 opening-day win on March 31, and is 4-2 with a 2.99 ERA in 14 games against them with the Dodgers (57-57).
Penny will now have a new teammate to provide some support, as Manny Ramirez looks to continue his red-hot hitting.
Ramirez is 13-for-23 (.565) with four homers and nine RBIs in six games since Los Angeles acquired him from Boston in a three-team deal just before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. The 12-time All-Star hit a two-run shot Thursday to power a 4-1 win at St. Louis.
“I’m just learning the league,” Ramirez said. “I like it here.”
Los Angeles holds a 6-3 edge on San Francisco, taking two of three at AT&T Park from July 4-6.
The Giants, winners of four of their last six, hope Barry Zito can put together consecutive wins for the first time this year.
Zito (6-13, 5.40) is coming off his best outing of the season, yielding three hits in eight innings of a 2-0 win over San Diego on Saturday. He outpitched the Padres’ Jake Peavy in a matchup of Cy Young Award winners.
“We have all the confidence in the world in Barry,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “To go eight innings, that was very, very impressive. This guy can pitch.”
Zito, though, has followed his five previous wins by going 0-3 with a 6.50 ERA, with only one of the outings leading to a win for the Giants. However, one of his victories came against the Dodgers at home on July 5, when he allowed two runs and six hits with a season-high 10 strikeouts in seven innings of a 5-2 win.
He’s 4-3 with a 4.27 ERA in eight career starts against Los Angeles, including a loss opposite Penny on opening day.
Zito has held Ramirez to six hits in 28 at-bats (.214), but three of those hits are homers.
The Giants are coming off Wednesday’s 3-2 win over Atlanta, matching their season high by winning a second consecutive series. They took two of three at San Diego last weekend.