Dodgers 6, Marlins 1
MIAMI (AP)—When Brad Penny threw his 110th and final pitch for one last strikeout, he pumped his fist, retrieved the ball from his catcher and stuck it in his hip pocket as he walked off the field.
Penny wanted a souvenir after striking out a career-high 14 Monday. He allowed only five baserunners in seven shutout innings to help the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 6-1 victory over his former team, the Florida Marlins.
“I love pitching here,” Penny said. “The mound is huge, and it’s perfect for a guy like me who likes to throw hard. My fastball was the best it has been all year.”
Penny (4-0) walked none and gave up five hits, including two infield singles, and lowered his ERA to 1.39. Following no-decisions in his past three games, he became the first Dodgers starter to begin a season 4-0 since Kazuhisa Ishii in 2002.
Penny’s strikeout total was the highest by a Dodgers pitcher since Chan Ho Park had 14 at Milwaukee on Aug. 29, 2000. Second-year Los Angeles manager Grady Little said the performance was the best he has seen by Penny.
“He played hardball tonight,” Little said. “Brad didn’t shy away from anyone.”
The Marlins began the week leading the NL in scoring, but they’re also on pace to set a major-league season record for strikeouts. In the past two games they’ve fanned 26 times while totaling two runs and eight hits.
LaRoche left the game in the eighth inning shortly after being hit by a pitch on the right hand. X-rays were negative.
“I’m fine,” he said.
Penny came into the game with only 15 strikeouts in 38 1-3 innings, but he fanned seven of the first nine hitters and retired the first 11 before Miguel Cabrera beat out an infield single. Almost all of the right-hander’s pitches registered at 93 mph or faster, and many were chest-high.
“He had a really good fastball. They weren’t hitting it, so we just kept going to it,” catcher Russell Martin said.
“I don’t think I threw 10 off-speed pitches,” Penny said.
He made Mike Jacobs look worst. The Marlins first baseman, who has been nursing a sore right hand, sent his bat flying beyond first base swinging in vain at a 93-mph fastball in the seventh inning. The next pitch was 94 mph, and Jacobs struck out, this time flinging the bat a few feet farther.
“We didn’t do a good job of making Penny get the ball down,” Jacobs said. “That ball that’s up looks good to swing at, and obviously a lot of us are swinging at it. You’ve got to make him get it down, but when a guy is throwing 97, it’s tough to do that.”
In the fourth inning Penny threw 11 pitches to leadoff hitter Hanley Ramirez, who struck out swinging at a 95-mph fastball. Uggla then struck out on three pitches, clocked at 95, 95 and 97.
After Cabrera singled, Jacobs went down swinging on a 96-mph fastball— Penny’s 10th strikeout.
When the inning ended, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez had a lengthy conversation with plate umpire Larry Poncino. Perhaps the chat affected the size of the strike zone: Penny struck out only four of the final 13 batters he faced.
Florida’s Ricky Nolasco (1-1), making his second start since coming off the disabled list, fell behind 6-0 after four innings.
“I made pitches up, and they made me pay,” Nolasco said. “It puts pressure on the guys when I get us down early.”
One bit of good news for the Marlins: Jorge Julio, who lost the closer’s job last month, pitched for the first time since coming off the disabled list, and two hitless innings lowered his ERA from 19.06 to 14.09.
“I’m happy,” Julio said. “I feel like years ago now.”
Penny improved to 27-14 in Miami. His previous career high of 13 strikeouts came for Florida against Montreal on June 26, 2001. … The Dodgers’ Wilson Betemit, who hit pinch-hit homers in the past two games after losing his starting job at third base, struck out pinch-hitting in the eighth to drop his average to .153.