The comebacks of Brad Penny and Nomar Garciaparra seemed to be headed in opposite directions Wednesday night.
Penny labored through a season-low three innings, but the Manny Ramirez-aided lineup came back from a five-run deficit to set the stage for a walk-off home run by Garciaparra in the ninth inning that pushed the Dodgers to a 7-6 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium.
The win moved them into a tie for first place in the National League West with Arizona and pushed them to two games over .500.
Manager Joe Torre didn't say much about Penny or the condition of his shoulder, instead steering the conversation toward how the relief efforts of Jason Johnson, Joe Beimel, Chan Ho Park and Jonathan Broxton put the Dodgers in position to win the game, and how the once frail lineup made up a deficit it wouldn't have been able to make up in its pre-Ramirez days.
A two-run home run by Ramirez in the third inning, a solo drive by Andre Ethier in the fourth and a two-run double by Jeff Kent in the eighth erased what was once a 6-1 deficit for the Dodgers.
For Ramirez, the home run was his fifth as a Dodger. Kent was four for five, making him 13 for 26 with eight runs batted in over his seven games hitting third in front of Ramirez.
"If this doesn't help our confidence, I don't know what will," Torre said.
The game ended when Garciaparra broke a 6-6 stalemate by taking Clay Condrey deep into the left-field stands. The shortstop, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, was mobbed by teammates at the plate and lifted onto their shoulders, as the crowd of 45,786, "No-mar! No-mar!"
"Don't drop me," Garciaparra said he recalled thinking, adding that his sprained left knee still bothered him.
"Hanging in there," Garciaparra said. "I'm good enough."
Sidelined for two months because of tendinitis in his throwing shoulder, Penny looked the way he did in the weeks leading up to him being put on the disabled list.
The Dodgers' opening-day starter was charged with six runs and six hits, walking two and striking out four. Penny gave up two-run home runs to Ryan Howard, Greg Dobbs and Jayson Werth, the Dodgers' hope that he could be the man to anchor their rotation over the final stretch of the season diminishing with every ball that cleared the fence.
"He didn't feel great," Torre said about Penny but added that there were no plans to take him out of the rotation at this time. Penny wasn't available for comment.
The clubhouse was closed longer than usual after the game, with General Manager Ned Colletti and team physician Neal El Attrache seen walking in.
Penny tossed five innings of one-run ball in San Francisco on Friday, but it wasn't enough to convince Torre that he was back to being the pitcher who made the All-Star team in the last two seasons, as his fastball sat in the high 80s.
One NL scout who watched Penny in San Francisco said he thought Penny wasn't recovered from the ailment that sidelined him for two months.
Velocity wasn't as much of an issue this time, as Penny's fastball regularly hit the low 90s and touched 95 mph.
The implosion of Penny coincided with the breakout of catcher Russell Martin, who was one for 16 in his previous five games and had gone 14 games without an extra-base hit. Martin was three for four with a double and walk.