LOS ANGELES (AP)—Nothing like a bench-clearing brawl to spice up a pitching duel. The worst thing about it was that it grabbed most of the attention away from Jeff Francis’ best outing of the season.
Penny was 9-0 with a 3.28 ERA in his previous 13 starts versus the defending NL champions, and 14-2 with a 3.06 ERA in his 23 career starts against them prior to Tuesday.
“Penny’s been good against us, no question. But I felt like if we kept their offense down a little bit, we could give our offense a chance to win the game. And we did that,” Francis said. “Losing eight in a row is never fun, obviously. I feel like this lifts a little pressure off our shoulders and we can come out and have some fun tomorrow.”
Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp struck out on a pitch in the dirt from Taylor Buchholz for the third out in the eighth inning, and the ball rolled a few feet to the right of catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who accidentally made contact with Kemp from behind before picking up the ball and tagging him lightly in the chest.
The frustrated Kemp, who was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and two groundouts, then shoved Torrealba—who retaliated by shoving Kemp in the face with both hands. In no time, they were wrestling on the infield grass as both benches and bullpens emptied. Order was quickly restored without any further incidents. Kemp and Torrealba both were ejected.
“I’m not used to acting in that way. It’s not in my character. It was out of frustration,” Kemp said. “We were losing the game and it was stupid— really stupid. It was not a good decision on my part. But it happened, and we have to deal with whatever happens after it.
Dodgers second baseman Jeff Kent did his best to support Kemp under the circumstances, choosing instead to put a positive spin on it and how it will help the three-year veteran in the long run.
“All of us in here, whether we’re winning or losing, everybody’s backing each other on their decisions,” Kent said. “I think it was frustration because of the inconsistencies on our team. I mean, guys are able to have a great day one day, and the next day they can’t figure it out. So that breeds frustration, it breeds anger, it breeds depression, and no doubt those are some of the things that inexperienced players learn to deal with over time.”
Torrealba was more than happy to talk about Francis’ pitching, but not the fracas with Kemp. Rockies manager Clint Hurdle did, however.
“Basically, he just took a stand. He wasn’t going to get pushed around— plain and simple,” Hurdle said. “I think if you’ve played this game for a while, if somebody pushes you in front of 38,000 people … I think he acted pretty appropriately.”
Francis (2-5) gave up four hits in seven innings. He struck out five, walked four and retired his last 10 batters. The Dodgers, who have lost nine of 12, scored fewer than three runs for the eighth time during that stretch.
Pinch-hitter Chris Iannetta homered on reliever Cory Wade’s first pitch in the ninth, and Brian Fuentes recorded his seventh save in 10 attempts to complete the six-hitter. He retired rookie Blake DeWitt on a foul fly to right field with two runners in scoring position after giving up a two-out single to James Loney and a double to Delwyn Young.
Penny (5-7) allowed two runs, six hits and four walks over six innings and struck out five. The right-hander, who won 13 of his first 14 decisions last season en route to a 16-4 record and finished third in the Cy Young voting, is 0-5 with an 8.28 ERA in his last six outings.
Colorado opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the third. Omar Quintanilla led off with a single, advanced on Francis’ sacrifice bunt, took third on a balk and came home on Scott Podsednik’s sacrifice fly. Penny then gave up a single to Seth Smith, a walk to Ryan Spilborghs and an RBI single by Todd Helton that extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
Penny’s balk was only the sixth of his career and his first since the 2003 season, when he had four with the Florida Marlins. … Rockies RHP Ryan Speier, sidelined since May 12 because of a bruised shoulder, was activated from the disabled list and rookie RHP Alberto Arias was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs. … Penny, who walked a batter in the first inning, has retired the side in order in the first frame only four times in his 13 starts. This was the eighth time he’s failed to get through the first three innings without giving up a run.