Penny unable to stop Dodgers' skid

Penny unable to stop Dodgers' skid

LOS ANGELES -- Having lost 12 of the 13 games they've played since the All-Star break, the Dodgers sent out their stopper Brad Penny on Wednesday, but it wasn't enough to prevent a 10-3 defeat to the Padres before 44,181 at Dodger Stadium.

For two innings, it looked like the Dodgers' fortunes were about to change. They broke on top in the first, as Rafael Furcal led off the game with a single and then came around to score on Olmedo Saenz's double.

Meanwhile, Penny looked like he was going to cruise, facing the minimum in the first two innings. Leading the Dodgers in wins with 10 and sporting a sterling 3.32 ERA, this was looking like the type of game the staff both expected and needed from their ace.

"He threw the ball well against St. Louis [in his last start]," manager Grady Little said, "and we have confidence in him."

The game, however, changed in the third inning when Penny took the mound.

Geoff Blum lead off the inning with a single, moved to third on Josh Barfield's double, and then both scored when Jake Peavy, San Diego's starter, doubled into the left-field corner.

"I gave him something down the middle," Penny said.

Dave Roberts then followed with another double, the third straight off Penny, which brought Peavy home. The ball might have been caught, but Kenny Lofton had trouble picking up the ball in center field, something that can be a problem in afternoon games. That play lead to a confrontation between Penny and Lofton in the dugout after the inning.

"He's a competitor," Little said of Penny, "and that was just frustration coming out.

"I talked with everyone, and there aren't any problems. It's what happens when a club is going bad. I'ts just frustration."

Addressing that frustration further, Little admitted that it's becoming harder with each loss -- eight straight and now 13 of 14 -- but the Dodgers are going to work through it.

"It's both mental and physical -- its frustrating for everyone, the coaches, the players and the fans," Little said. "We have to keep working to try and make it better."

After Roberts' double, Mike Cameron singled to put runners on the corners, and a Brian Giles single brought home the fourth run of the third inning.

With Penny on the ropes, the Dodgers bullpen, which has been taxed of late, needed to get active, but a double-play grounder off the bat of Josh Bard and a groundout by Adrian Gonzalez got the Dodgers out of the inning and saved the 'pen for a few frames.

However, with the way the Dodgers have been swinging the bats recently, and with their best hitter, Nomar Garciaparra, sidelined for the week, a 4-1 deficit was a formidable one.

In the fourth, the Padres' lead increased, as Penny gave up another double, this time to Blum, and then watched as Peavy deposited a pitch in the left-field stands for a two-run homer and a 6-1 lead.

With two hits and four RBIs on the day, Peavy turned out to be more of a nemesis for the Dodgers at the plate than on the mound.

Little however didn't seem too concerned about Penny's performance, chalking it up mostly to the righty's inability to retire Peavy.

"The pitcher got to him," Little said, "driving in two with a double and then two more with the home run -- that was the difference.

Penny's explanation was more succinct.

"I didn't have a breaking ball, and I was leaving my ball over the middle of the plate," he said. "Any time you do that, you're not going to be successful."

While those bad pitches to Peavy loomed large, there were moments that showed why Little wasn't too worried. For example, Penny surrounded the fourth-inning double and home run with three strikeouts, then got through the fifth inning facing only three batters, thanks to a double play, one of five Los Angeles made during the game.

Though Penny could have gone another inning or two, having thrown only 74 pitches, he was due to lead off the bottom of the fifth, and Little needed to try and get something going.

For Little, however, dealing with the frustration of losing continues, and while a day off might be just the thing the Dodgers need, the skipper feels differently.

"We just need to get a win, and you can't win if you aren't playing," he said.

Glenn Rabney is a contributor for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.