Garciaparra hit a game-winning RBI single in the ninth inning for the second day in a row and also had a pair of run-scoring doubles, leading the Dodgers to a 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night.
“What I really enjoy about wins like that is that everybody’s doing their job,” Garciaparra said. “Kenny getting that double gave us a huge boost, because that was going to give us a chance to knock him in—whether it was me or the guy behind me. We produced runs all night long—getting doubles, moving runners over and doing the things to get the runs across.”
Milwaukee’s Dan Kolb relieved in the eighth, giving up a leadoff walk to Jeff Kent and a double to left-center by Olmedo Saenz. Jose Cruz Jr. delivered Kent with a fly ball to left. However, the Brewers tied it in the ninth when Carlos Lee doubled and Bill Hall drove him in with his second RBI single of the game.
Dodgers starter Brad Penny labored through 5 1-3 innings, throwing 116 pitches and allowing three runs and seven hits. The right-hander gave up a walk in each of the first six innings, after allowing just seven over his previous 37 innings this season. Penny has not allowed more than three runs in any of his seven starts, but is just 0-1 in his last five outings after winning his first two.
“I think he was kind of effectively wild, to a point,” Brewers center fielder Gabe Gross said. “When you see a guy semi-struggling with command, you think at some point you’re going to get a cookie to hit. And he never really did that. He might have missed, but then when he came back and made his pitch, it was a good pitch on the corner somewhere. We just never could deliver the knockout punch.”
Brewers starter Ben Hendrickson allowed three runs and four hits over five innings on the same mound where he made his big league debut in June 2004 with a 5-2 loss. The right-hander was making a spot start in place of Tomo Ohka, who is on the disabled list because of a partial tear in his rotator cuff.
After falling behind 3-1 in the third inning on two-out RBI singles by Hall and Gross, Penny had a chance to help himself at the plate in the fourth. However, Hendrickson struck him out with the bases loaded.
The Dodgers tied it in the fifth. Lofton and Garciaparra both doubled with one out, Garciaparra took third on a wild pitch and came home on J.D. Drew’s grounder.
Garciaparra, a five-time All-Star shortstop who has made a remarkably smooth transition to first base this year, was involved in a disputed play that left a Milwaukee runner stranded at third in the sixth inning.
Shortstop Rafael Furcal took the throw from second baseman Kent for the force on J.J. Hardy, and his relay throw to first nearly pulled Garciaparra off the bag. But the 11-year veteran stretched out on his stomach to complete the double play. Jenkins, manager Ned Yost and first base coach Dave Nelson argued in vain with umpire Ramon Armendariz, whose call appeared to be supported by replays.
“On that play, you just want to catch the ball. That’s first and foremost, and I was able to keep my foot on the bag,” Garciaparra said. “I hope I can keep making plays like that. I just try to make my infielders feel as comfortable as they can when they go out there, and hopefully I’m doing that little by little.”
Penny stumbled out of the gate in the first inning, giving up a leadoff double to Rickie Weeks, a two-out walk to Lee and an RBI single by Fielder on an 0-2 pitch. The Dodgers tied it in the bottom half when Furcal walked, stole second and scored on Garciaparra’s double.
Penny is a part-owner of a horse named Excess Temptations, who won the fourth race at Hollywood Park on Friday. The 4-year-old California-bred colt has three wins from seven career starts (43 percent) and has earned $116,772. Penny has won 58 of 169 big league starts (34 percent), and is in the first year of a $25 million contract extension. … When RHP Aaron Sele makes his Dodgers regular-season debut Sunday in a spot start for Odalis Perez, he will become the 81st player and 36th pitcher to play for both the Dodgers and Angels. RHP Jeff Weaver became No. 80 on April 5 when the Angels played at Seattle. … Hendrickson was recalled from Triple-A Nashville four days before Ohka’s last start and threw 78 pitches over 4 2-3 innings of relief on Tuesday against Houston. … Saenz, starting at 3B for the first time since last Sept. 9 because of Bill Mueller’s sore right knee, made a sliding catch of Gross’ foul pop in the second inning.