Fantasy Baseball: Big stars back from DL
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Jeff Kent returned from the disabled list with two big hits— and a first baseman’s mitt.
Kent homered, doubled and drove in three runs Monday night, and the Los Angeles Dodgers extended their winning streak to 10 games with a 7-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies. The four-time All-Star second baseman also made 10 putouts in his first start at first base since last September.
“I was hoping he’d be rusty. He’s not,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “He was going to come off the DL sooner or later, and he’s got some good history against us. There’s a handful of guys like that. It’s like a rock in your shoe or a burr in your saddle. We can’t seem to shake him.”
Brad Penny (12-5) pitched eight strong innings for the Dodgers and allowed five hits, including homers by Garrett Atkins and Brad Hawpe. The All-Star right-hander struck out four, walked none and helped himself with an RBI double.
“I was throwing a lot of changeups and breaking balls early in the count,” Penny said. “They were hitting the ball decent, but right at people. And that’s always huge for me. Fortunately, I got a lot of early outs tonight and a lot of great defense behind me.”
Penny is 4-0 with a 0.99 ERA in four starts against the Rockies this season, and 9-2 in 14 career starts with a 2.16 ERA—the lowest by any pitcher against Colorado, according to STATS Inc.
“Obviously, Penny has more than had his way with us. He’s dominated us,” Hurdle said. “The problem tonight was his first-pitch strikes. He was shaving corners away. Late in the count, he was shaving corners in with his breaking ball. He was just on top of his game.”
Penny retired his first 11 batters and was staked to a 4-0 lead before Atkins drove a 2-0 pitch to left-center for his 17th home run. Hawpe led off the eighth with his 16th homer, trimming the Dodgers’ lead to 5-2, but J.D. Drew responded with a two-run double in the bottom half.
“We’re doing everything good right now,” manager Grady Little said. “The pitchers have been consistent, both the starters and relievers, and we’ve been getting some good, timely hitting. We’ve got a different team right now than we had a month ago. There’s some different faces out there and they’ve made a big difference in this ballclub.”
The Dodgers’ winning streak, which is five games shy of the franchise record set in 1924, began one game after Penny initiated a heated confrontation with center fielder Kenny Lofton in the dugout during a 10-3 loss to San Diego. Los Angeles went 1-13 coming out of the All-Star break.
“I think all of us had doubts at that time, but we went through it and we learned from it,” Little said. “They learned it’s not the end of the world. You’re going to go through a lot of good times and a lot of bad ones.
“It was just a matter of everyone doing their job the best they could and seeing what they could do to make a difference, and it’s paying off. Now we’ll just continue to go forward.”
Josh Fogg (7-7) allowed five runs, eight hits and four walks in 4 1-3 innings. The right-hander was removed by Hurdle after giving up a bases-loaded RBI single by Julio Lugo that made the score 5-1. After crossing the foul line, Fogg crossed the line with plate umpire Sam Holbrook and was ejected after complaining too strongly about his call on a previous pitch.
Lofton, who was 3-for-5 with two stolen bases, tripled in the first inning and scored on Kent’s two-out double. The Dodgers made it 2-0 in the second when Russell Martin singled and came home on Penny’s double into the left-field corner.
Kent, who missed 18 games because of a strained muscle on his left side, drove in two more in the third with his 10th homer—one pitch after a leadoff walk to Drew.
“He’s not the most vocal guy, but he leads by the way he plays,” Martin said. “He’s a tough player and a tough competitor, and you just kind of feed off that. And with him back in the lineup, he’s going to help us out a whole lot with his bat. You could just see that he’s locked in. Every swing he took tonight was perfectly balanced and he was taking good hacks.”
Three of the first seven Colorado batters were robbed of hits on diving plays by three different infielders. Kent smothered Hawpe’s smash up the line in the third and ran to the bag for the out.
“His defense was great,” teammate Jason Repko said. “I just think it’s great that he could come out here and just right away be willing to go there and help the team wherever it’s needed.”
The Dodgers placed OF Ricky Ledee on waivers, and he was claimed by the New York Mets. Ledee began his big league career in 1998 with the Yankees. … Dodgers RHP Elmer Dessens was placed on the DL with a sprained left ankle, retroactive to Aug. 3. … The Dodgers have committed only one error during their winning streak. … Dodgers SS Rafael Furcal was 0-for-5, ending his 13-game hitting streak.