DENVER (AP)—A warm day at Coors Field helped out Brad Penny and his sore back.
Penny (4-1) left after five innings in his last start because of a stiff back, but didn’t seem to have any lingering effects, hitting the mid-90s with his fastball and keeping the Rockies off balance with a looping curveball. The right-hander gave up three runs or less for the ninth time in as many starts this season, helping the Dodgers to their ninth win in 12 games.
“Penny was outstanding. He gave us a very good effort out there and we couldn’t ask for more,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. “He’s not 100 percent, but you certainly can’t tell that once he gets out there on the mound and loosens up and starts throwing. When he stops moving around that’s when it bothers him a little bit, but today it wasn’t bothering him as much as the previous game.”
Jason Jennings (2-4) matched Penny most of the way before giving up three runs in the seventh inning for his fourth loss in five starts.
The right-hander was hit for a pair of one-out singles to Ramon Martinez and Russell Martin, then pinch-hitter Olmedo Saenz tied the game with an RBI single to left. Jennings struck out Rafael Furcal for the second out, walked Jose Cruz Jr. to load the bases, and Garciaparra put the Dodgers up 3-1 with a hard single to left.
“Jason pitched great, he pitched a great ballgame,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “Four ground balls in the inning and they get three runs. Jason is controlling what he can control.”
Colorado, which has lost six of eight, didn’t give Jennings much support, getting a run in the sixth inning on Miguel Ojeda’s RBI single.
The Rockies cut the Dodgers’ lead to 3-2 in the eighth, when Matt Holliday, who doubled off Joe Beimel with one out, scored on third baseman Oscar Robles’ throwing error. Danys Baez got Ojeda to hit into a double play to end the inning, then gave up a single to Cory Sullivan and hit Garrett Atkins in the ninth before getting Todd Helton to fly out for his ninth save in 14 chances.
“We had men on base. We weren’t able to get the big hit,” Hurdle said.
Penny didn’t give the Rockies many chances before that.
He struck out Brad Hawpe with runners on second and third to end the first inning, then got consecutive groundouts to end the third after Sullivan doubled. The Rockies had a pair of singles off Penny in the fourth and fifth innings before breaking through in the sixth, when Jason Smith hit a two-out single, stole second and scored on Ojeda’s single to left.
Penny was lifted for a pinch hitter in the seventh after allowing six hits, hitting two batters and striking out seven.
“Both starting pitchers did great today,” Garciaparra said. “Our team did a good job go out there and battle and produce runs—we knew the way he was throwing it was going to be tough.”
Jennings was just as good through six innings, allowing a pair of singles in the second and another in the fifth, before running into trouble in the seventh. He allowed three runs and seven hits, which is normally good enough to win at Coors Field. Instead, it ended up being his first loss in seven career starts against the Dodgers at Coors Field.
“Losing games like this are hard to take,” said Jennings, who had his home scoreless streak snapped at 16 innings on Saenz’s single in the seventh. “Most of the time you win games when you pitch like today. This was a tough one.”
Los Angeles 2B Jeff Kent (lower back) and CF Kenny Lofton (hamstring) sat out, but are expected back Friday against the Angels after the Dodgers’ day off. … The Rockies don’t play on Thursday, their first off day since April 20. … Ojeda was 2-for-4 to end a 1-for-18 slump.