Penny backed by homers to beat Rox

Penny backed by homers to beat Rockies

DENVER -- The Dodgers turned it over to a bunch of castoffs on Wednesday night.

With the core of the club sidelined, manager Jim Tracy sent out a lineup lacking in experience and name recognition but not desire or effort, and it came away with a 9-5 win over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field that tightened up the National League West Division.

"They're playing hard and that's all you can ask for," Tracy said after the Dodgers pulled back into a tie for second place with Arizona, 4 1/2 games out of first.

Jason Phillips and Antonio Perez slugged three-run homers, with Perez driving in five runs for the second time in his career. Brad Penny threw a quality start and his roommate, Jason Repko, added a pair of doubles.

While there were some big numbers in the box score, Tracy was more impressed with his club's execution of the little things that won't show up there.

He praised Perez in particular for making contact on a hit-and-run bouncer and running hard enough to avoid a double play that would have killed the first inning before Phillips would have had a chance to homer. Perez's speed prompted a rushed and high throw from shortstop Eddy Garabito.

"We forced the issue there," said Phillips. "Maybe we can continue getting that luck we haven't been getting this year."

Tracy also cited some slick glovework by his middle infielders. Oscar Robles looked like Cesar Izturis at shortstop and Perez, who moved over from third with Jeff Kent sidelined, showed why second base is his preferred position as they combined on a pair of difficult double plays to choke off rallies.

"Our young guys are getting an opportunity to show what they can do," said Penny. "People will be looking at them and seeing they can play. They've all got a lot of potential."

But they've just about all played elsewhere. Perez is already with his fourth organization, but this is his first full season in the Major Leagues. The Dodgers are Robles' fourth organization as well, which doesn't count the five years he was playing in the Mexican League. Phillips was unloaded by the Mets for Kazuhisa Ishii in the spring.

Mike Edwards, who scored two runs in the game, spent nine years in the Minor Leagues before the Dodgers, his fourth organization, gave him an extended look this year. Hee-Seop Choi, who went from being benched to batting cleanup on Wednesday, is with his third organization in three years. Jason Grabowski, who started in right field, is with his fourth organization; Jayson Werth with his third. Repko was the only homegrown product in the lineup.

"As a group, we want to handle business, even though it is us," Repko said of the young players. "We're trying to jell and play hard and play the game right. That's all we can do."

Tracy, whose background is long on player development, said they're learning.

"They are a great bunch of guys and they are receptive to instruction, and you're seeing the signs that, a couple of weeks ago, might have been overwhelming," he said. "In the at-bats, they are understanding counts and situations, executing hit-and-runs, little things like that."

Penny did some execution himself to pitch out of jams and post a quality start, gaining velocity in the middle innings after struggling to get loose and missing with location early.

"Damage control," he said. "I made big pitches when I needed them."

Probably the biggest moment was in the third inning, with the Dodgers leading, 5-1, when Todd Helton came up with nobody out and runners on first and second. Penny struck out Helton, then Robles turned Preston Wilson's bid for an RBI bouncer into an inning-ending double play.

"That was the game right there," said Phillips.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.