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DODGERS REPORT

Penny faces Rockies on short rest

August 19, 2007|Kevin Baxter | Times Staff Writer

Whose idea it was depends on whom you ask.

Or whom you believe.

But what's not in dispute is the fact that Dodgers Manager Grady Little will give Brad Penny the ball for today's series finale with the Colorado Rockies on three days' rest.

"Brad came in yesterday, said he was feeling strong, [that] he'd like to pitch Sunday. We see nothing wrong with that," Little said. "It will only help this ballclub. He worked a good game the other night, but he really did it on a short number of pitches."

Actually Penny struggled a bit in his last outing Wednesday, giving up 10 hits in six innings but sticking around long enough to get his 14th win. And he needed 95 pitches to do that, as many or more than he has thrown in a third of his starts this season.

Asked for his version of the conversation, Penny, who lasted five innings in his only career start on short rest as a rookie in 2000, responded with a question of his own.

"Did you not ask [Grady]?" he said.

Told that Little said it was his idea, Penny agreed. Sort of.

"I told him I'd be able to throw," he said. "As long as I feel good, I'll go out there whenever they want me to. We're running out of time, really. We've got, what, 40 games left?

"I don't think one day's going to make a difference. I'm going to go out there, try to make pitches and take it like a regular start."

A better reason for the switch, though, is Penny's record against the Rockies: He's 12-2 with a 2.69 earned-run average and hasn't lost to them since August 2005, winning his last seven decisions against Colorado.

"He's been very good," Colorado Manager Clint Hurdle said. "[But] we're due."

Right-hander Brett Tomko, originally scheduled to start today, will be pushed back to Tuesday in Philadelphia followed by Derek Lowe, who gets an extra day's rest, and Chad Billingsley. Rookie Eric Stults, who beat Colorado on Friday, will make his next start Saturday against the Mets, following Penny.

"We want to make the playoffs here and whatever I can do, my part to help the team, I'm going to go out there and do," said Penny, who entered Saturday tied for the National League lead in wins and third in the NL with a 2.61 ERA.

As the pennant races have begun to heat up, so has Juan Pierre, who started Saturday batting .524 on the homestand, raising his season average to .289. But then that's following form for Pierre, who is a lifetime .318 hitter after the All-Star break, 31 points better than his career mark in the first half of the season.

And Pierre, who leads the National League with 123 singles but is the only Dodgers regular without a home run, said he expects his power numbers to change shortly too.

"September," he joked. "September is usually my power month."

September is also the center fielder's best month from a hitting standpoint too, with his lifetime average of .334 the best of any month

Jonathan Broxton's two scoreless innings of relief Saturday marked his 93nd consecutive appearance without giving up a home run. The streak, which spans 95 2/3 innings, is the longest in Los Angeles Dodgers history and the fifth-longest in the majors since 1958.

Staff writer Dylan Hernandez contributed to this story.

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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