Penny tagged with loss vs. Giants
Right-hander suffers first defeat in more than two months
LOS ANGELES -- You already know Barry Bonds didn't do it Tuesday night, but here's what SportsCenter probably overlooked.That the Dodgers fell out of first place with their third consecutive loss and fifth in six games, 3-1 to the last-place Giants. That while the Giants' cleanup hitter didn't get any home runs -- or even any hits -- the Dodgers' cleanup hitter, Jeff Kent, wasn't even able to play and the offense shut down without him. That Brad Penny suffered only his second loss of the year and first in 2 1/2 months, snapping an eight-game win streak. And you have to wonder just how much that strained abdominal muscle contributed to his season-high five walks in six innings and whether it will be the kind of nagging injury that makes the difference between the first-half dominator he's been and whatever he became in the second half last year. Even hurting, Penny (13-2) allowed three runs in six innings, minimum requirements for a quality start. But the Dodgers offense was pretty much nowhere to be found against Noah Lowry. The Dodgers scored on Rafael Furcal's two-out single in the second inning and spent the rest of the game stranding eight runners. They left the bases loaded in the first inning, left runners in scoring position in four different innings and went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. They had only five hits, all singles. When manager Grady Little was asked the loaded question about whether he could have used the acquisition of a bat before the afternoon's trading deadline, he had an answer locked and loaded. "We could use the bats we have in the lineup to do better," he said. Kent was coming off a trip in which he hit .650, but which ended with a strained hamstring that will keep him out several days. Luis Gonzalez moved up to the cleanup spot and went 0-for-4, while Ramon Martinez took over second base for Kent and had two of the hits and scored the only run from the eighth spot in the order. Penny went after Bonds with two out and a runner on first in the first inning, striking him out on three pitches. With one out, one run in and a runner on third in the third inning, Penny walked Bonds intentionally. The key Bonds at-bat came leading off the sixth inning with a walk, which wouldn't have been so bad, except that Penny then walked Ryan Klesko, then allowed a single to center by Bengie Molina to load the bases followed by the game-winner, a two-run, broken-bat single by Pedro Feliz. Penny said the abdominal strain that forced him from Thursday night's start in Colorado was "a little sore," but his velocity was down about three miles an hour from normal. Penny brushed off questions about the circus atmosphere that has followed Bonds on his chase of Henry Aaron's all-time home run record, saying the pregame buzz doesn't match that of a postseason. Boos for Bonds drowned out the cheers, be it pregame introductions, his appearance in the on-deck circle, at bat or in the field. "I don't want to talk about the Barry thing," said Penny. "The atmosphere doesn't change that much in L.A. You don't pay attention to that stuff when you pitch. It was the walks that got me. Two walks killed me." Catcher Russell Martin said Penny had decent stuff and the outcome would have been different without the two walks in the sixth. "Barry Bonds is going to do what he's going to do," said Martin. "We just try to keep him off base as much as we can. We play it like any other game and it is. We've got to try to win a ballgame. It's not about Barry Bonds right now. It's about us trying to win a ballgame." Bonds had one more at-bat, against Joe Beimel in the seventh inning. Beimel got Bonds to hit a towering popup in shallow left-center. Furcal, shifted to the right-field side of second base, made the long run to get under the ball, then dropped it for an error. Bonds is now 1-for-15 against Beimel. "I didn't want to walk him with two outs and have all chaos break out, so I went after him," said Beimel. "Obviously, this is a pretty big deal. I feel this is the biggest record in sports and every time he comes to the plate it's a big deal. I just go out and challenge him. I don't think I could live with myself if I pitched scared and around him. He's a dangerous hitter but I get paid to get guys like that out."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.