Dodgers 5, Rockies 4

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DENVER (AP)—Brad Penny just wanted a minute to catch his breath. The next thing he knew he was being escorted out of the game by trainers.

“I could’ve stayed in,” Penny said after the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 5-4 win over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night. “I’m like, ‘I’m fine.’ They’re like, ‘No.”’

Manager Grady Little held his breath after Penny hurt himself in the seventh inning as he beat out an infield single. Penny hunched over after he reached first base and the trainers sprinted out to examine him.

Turns out it was only an abdominal cramp. But Los Angeles didn’t want to take any chances. Not with their ace.

“I was hoping it wasn’t too bad,” Little said. “Anytime you see someone fold over like that, it’s scary.”

Especially after watching Derek Lowe leave the game Wednesday with a groin injury.

The good news kept coming for Little. After the game, Lowe said he wasn’t in much pain and thought he might be in line to make his next start.

“I’m doing good, doing good,” said Lowe, who spent nearly four hours getting an MRI exam Thursday afternoon as the equipment broke down. “I can’t see it lingering on for a long time.”

When Lowe saw Penny doubled over down the first-base line, one thought instantly popped into his mind.

“That we’re not very good athletes,” Lowe said with a grin.

Penny blamed the altitude.

“I’ve never really had a cramp like that in a game,” he said.

Penny (13-1) joined Josh Beckett of Boston, Cleveland’s Fausto Carmona and C.C. Sabathia and Carlos Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs for the major league lead in wins with 13. He also became the first Los Angeles pitcher to begin a season 13-1 since Phil Regan went 14-1 in 1966.

The righty went six innings against Colorado, giving up three runs on five hits to run his lifetime record against the Rockies to 12-2.

Yet he was disappointed about leaving the game early.

“I was fine,” said Penny, who’s now 12-0 this season against the National League. “It was a little cramp.”

Takashi Saito pitched the ninth for his 26th save in 29 chances, striking out Matt Holliday with a runner on to end the game. Saito had missed the previous seven games because of a sore right shoulder.

“We miss him when he’s gone. We miss him terribly,” Little said. “It affects us a lot. He looked good out there.”

The Rockies continue to struggle against Los Angeles. The team is 91-128 all-time against the Dodgers, including 2-4 this season. With the loss, Colorado fell 5 1/2 games behind Los Angeles in the NL West.

“We have to beat them,” Holliday said. “They are in first place and we have to beat them when we play them.”

Rafael Furcal hit a two-run homer in the fifth, his fourth of the season, and Nomar Garciaparra drove in two runs with a single in the fourth. Juan Pierre added two singles and stole his 42nd base of the season.

Rodrigo Lopez (5-4) went 6 2-3 innings, giving up five hits and three earned runs. He was taken out after striking out Matt Kemp in the seventh because of tightness in his right forearm.

“My forearm muscles stiffened,” Lopez said. “I think I’ll be all right.”

Brad Hawpe finished 2-for-4 and drove in three runs. He had a two-out, broken-bat single up the middle with the bases loaded, which infuriated Penny because it went under his glove.

“(That) could’ve been right at someone,” Penny said of the grounder. “A lot of times it is right at someone.”

Penny is hitting .293 this season, which is higher than his ERA of 2.51. He’s trying to become the first Dodgers pitcher to have a higher batting average than ERA since Fernando Valenzuela batted .250 with a 2.48 ERA in 1981.

But Little needs Penny the pitcher more than Penny the hitter. After seeing Penny hunched over at first, Little was a little concerned.

“We’re just glad it’s not serious,” Little said. “With either person (Penny or Lowe), it could be much, much worse that it was.”

Notes

LHP Brian Fuentes threw Thursday and a decision on his rehab schedule will be made in the next few days. He’s on the disabled list because of a mild back strain. … INF Jeff Kent wasn’t in the starting lineup. … 1B James Loney went 0-for-4, ending his 30-game streak of reaching base safely. It was the second longest streak in the majors this year behind Kent’s 36-game streak. … Troy Tulowitzki was back at shortstop for Colorado after missing the last two games with food poisoning. He learned a valuable lesson though: never cook up raw chicken left in the refrigerator after a long road trip. Tulowitzki went 0-for-4 on Thursday.

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