Dodgers fall to nemesis Peavy
Four-run fourth inning costs Penny in loss to Padres
LOS ANGELES -- After losing to Jake Peavy and the Padres again on Friday night, 7-5, the Dodgers are off to their worst start in 10 years. They have a four-game losing streak and already are four games out of first place and the season isn't two weeks old. They weren't that far behind last year until Aug. 5.
They signed Andruw Jones for $18.1 million a year to be the big run producer they desperately need, and he has barely been able to hit the ball out of the infield. After another 0-for-4 game that dropped his batting average to .114, a Dodger Stadium crowd of 54,052 booed Jones so fiercely that manager Joe Torre must have thought he was back in The Bronx.
"Sometimes, fans get frustrated, too," said Torre.
For the second consecutive start, Brad Penny lost to Peavy while allowing San Diego a four-run, six-hit inning. He was throwing hard, and made 119 pitches over six innings, but the other five innings were scoreless.
"I just think I didn't do a good job," said Penny.
With the backdrop of vague suspicions about Peavy and foreign substances, the Dodgers held a pregame hitters meeting and scored twice in the first three innings, then added a James Loney homer in the sixth off last year's Cy Young winner. Peavy would probably win the award every year if he could face only the Dodgers. He's 11-1 against them lifetime, the only loss coming almost five years ago. Nobody from that Dodgers team is on this one.
After two-plus innings, the Dodgers had seven hits and only one run. There was nothing in Peavy's hand but the baseball, and it wasn't diving and darting the way he made it last Saturday, when he threw a two-hit complete game at the Dodgers. This time he made it six innings, charged with three runs.
"We couldn't have had it any better than we had it early, and you look up and you have two runs," said Torre. "We had a chance to do stuff. We couldn't plate more than one run an inning. You don't get the chance to hit Peavy around often."
The Dodgers also ran themselves out of a run in the second inning when Russell Martin was thrown out at the plate easily by left fielder Scott Hairston on Penny's crisp two-out single with Rafael Furcal, the club's hottest hitter, on deck. Furcal (.432) led off the next inning with a double, one of his three hits, and added two walks and three runs scored.
Torre defended third-base coach Larry Bowa's decision to send Martin.
"With two out, you've got to take that chance," said Torre. "They still have to catch and throw it. They made the play. We forced them to make the play. We need to be aggressive and try to force the issue on occasion. We haven't been able to do much offensively on a regular basis. Give Peavy credit for minimizing the damage. We had him on the ropes."
Penny had that one bad inning again (with three two-out hits), but the game really got away from the bullpen. Joe Beimel allowed one run in the seventh inning and rookie Ramon Troncoso allowed two runs in the eighth. Those runs loomed massive in the bottom of the ninth, when the Dodgers nearly duplicated their ninth-inning victory last Sunday against Trevor Hoffman.
The Padres' 40-year-old closer walked two, allowed one run and had the bases loaded when he struck out Jeff Kent to end the game. After the game, Esteban Loaiza, who had nothing to do with this loss, was demoted to the bullpen, replaced in the starting rotation by Hong-Chih Kuo, who threw a bullpen session before the game and was unavailable for middle relief in this game.
"We have to keep our head up, keep our chin up and don't get into feeling sorry for yourself, because you'll be the only one," said Torre. "I don't think we're at the point where we need one thing to turn it around. But [a win] would give us a lot of confidence. We're fighting it every day. It would have done a lot for the confidence of the club. It makes me feel good that we've been telling them to play nine innings. ... Tonight it almost paid off for us."
Jones said he heard the boos.
"The fans are going to do whatever they want to do," he said. "I can't tell them what to do. Those things don't bother me. It's not he first time I get booed. It doesn't bother me.
"I've played 12 years and I've been in a lot of slumps longer than this. I have to stay positive and keep playing my game. It's just a matter of time to get it going."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.