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Notes: Kent preaches patience

Notes: Kent preaches patience

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers have put together a three-game winning streak, reviving their chances of making a run for the National League West title. But according to second baseman Jeff Kent, the race is just beginning and the team just has to stay the course.

Kent, who has played on playoff teams with the Astros, Giants and Dodgers, said the key to making a run is just keeping the faith and taking the good with the bad.

"There's a few things you got to really concern yourself with as a player -- you got to keep the faith and believe that you can do some good things," Kent said. "You have to be able to stay under emotional control. You can't let the streaks get you too high, and you can't let the slumps get you too low, because they will emotionally control the way you play the game."

Kent has shown that emotional control throughout the season. The veteran has seen his share of hot streaks and slumps this season. In the month of July, Kent was on fire, hitting .447 with five homers, seven doubles and 20 RBIs. Then an injury to his hamstring put him on the shelf for five games, and when he returned, he went into a slump.

Kent went 2-for-30 after returning to the lineup on Aug. 7, and couldn't find his stroke until he returned to Dodger Stadium this last week. Kent was struggling so bad that he managed just one extra-base hit and two RBIs in the eight-game stretch.

But in the last two games, Kent is 4-for-7 with a homer, three doubles and three RBIs. He said he hasn't changed anything; it's just part of the game.

"This game is so unpredictable, as I mentioned, it's so easy to write about, but it's so difficult to play," Kent said. "Emotional control -- I think that's the key to consistency. You need to be able to check your emotions from pitch to pitch, from at-bat to at-bat and from play to play. You got to be able to control yourself."

Kent said he's been on teams that have been in a lot deeper holes than the Dodgers are right now, and they made the playoffs. He said the situation here, being six games back with 39 games left is not bad at all.

"I've been on teams that have been in bad spots," the veteran said. "Just a few years ago, I was on the Astros, and we were out eight games with maybe two weeks to play. We were left for dead and we came back.

"That was the worst position I think I've ever been in on a team. We're not bad here."

Penny to start Sunday: Right-handed pitcher Brad Penny informed manager Grady Little on Friday night that he felt strong and wanted to pitch Sunday on three days' rest.

Penny, who picked up his 14th victory Wednesday against the Astros, threw a bullpen session on Friday and said he wanted to pitch in the finale of the three-game series against the Rockies. Penny went six innings and threw 95 pitches against the Astros, but said he felt good and wanted another start before his scheduled start Tuesday.

"Brad came in yesterday, said he was feeling strong and wanted to pitch Sunday," Little said. "We see nothing wrong with that. It'll only help this ballclub. He feels great, he wants to do it. We see nothing wrong with it."

Good ole' Gonzo: Left fielder Luis Gonzalez and clubhouse manager Mitch Poole put together T-shirts in tribute to pinch-hitter Olmedo Saenz. The T-shirts read, "Deploy the Tomato," with an illustration of a tomato being shot out of a sling shot.

Saenz's nickname on the team is "Killer-T," as in tomato, and he is one of the Dodgers' most popular players. Saenz, who was in the starting lineup Saturday, was wearing the shirt, as were about 15 other players on the team.

Gonzalez is known to pull little gaffes here and there, and Little said he had an idea who the culprit was when he saw some of the guys wearing the shirts.

"I don't know who did it, but it sounds like Luis Gonzalez had something to do with it," Little said.

Big bad John: Reliever Jonathan Broxton pitched a scoreless inning Friday night and has not allowed a homer in his last 92 games (93 2/3 innings), surpassing Paul Quantrill for the longest streak in L.A. Dodgers history, and the fifth-longest streak in baseball since the Dodgers move to Los Angeles in 1958.

Broxton's homerless-outing streak is the longest active streak in baseball behind Chad Bradford, who has not allowed a homer in 113 outings.

Coming up: Penny (14-3, 2.61 ERA) will take on the Rockies and lefty Jeff Francis (13-6, 4.43) on Sunday afternoon at 1:10 PT at Dodger Stadium.

Jayson Addcox is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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