Jones pulls switch on Dodgers
Brad Penny drove in three runs Thursday night, but a rough night on the mound negated his success in the batter’s box.
Penny gave up six runs in only four innings, setting the stage for the Atlanta Braves to beat the Dodgers, 8-6, on two late home runs by Chipper Jones in front of 41,052 at Dodger Stadium.
For the record:
12:00 a.m. July 7, 2007 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday July 07, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 54 words Type of Material: Correction
Baseball: An article in Friday’s Sports section about the Dodgers game said that the two home runs hit by Atlanta’s Chipper Jones made him the Braves’ all-time leader. Jones is the Atlanta leader in home runs; Hank Aaron, who played for the Braves in Milwaukee and Atlanta, is the Braves’ franchise leader in homers.
Penny’s anticipated duel against Tim Hudson in his final start of the first half of the season turned ugly, perhaps because a blister on the index finger of his pitching hand ruptured three batters into the game.
Penny, who resumed pitching after trainer Stan Conte clipped the loose skin, refused to hide behind his potential alibi.
“This team gave me every opportunity to win that game,” Penny said. “I let them down today.”
Hudson’s evening was even shorter than Penny’s, as he was tagged for six runs and 10 hits in three-plus innings. Half of those runs were produced by two hits from Penny, including a two-run single in the third with the bases full.
Told that the matchup of the golden arms looked nothing like Penny’s lights-out performance against an equally brilliant Jake Peavy of the Padres five days earlier, Dodgers Manager Grady Little replied, “That’s what makes this a great game. You can’t predict what’ll happen.”
The home runs by Jones made him the Braves’ all-time leader with 372, besting Dale Murphy’s old mark by one.
Jones hit a homer from each side of the plate for the sixth time in his career. The last time he did so was on July 5, 2000 against Montreal.
Jones made the left-handed Eric Stults (0-1) his victim in the sixth and bestowed the same tag on the right-handed Chin-Hui Tsao in the eighth. Stults was making his first appearance since being recalled Wednesday from triple-A Las Vegas.
Penny, who didn’t earn a decision, will go to the All-Star game on Tuesday with a 10-1 record and 2.39 earned run average.
“The guy’s human,” Little said. “He’s had a great first half of the season for us.”
Penny’s problems started with his first pitch in the second inning, a high fastball that was hit over the center-field wall by Jeff Francoeur. Penny recovered to strike out the next two batters, but gave up back-to-back singles to Hudson and Willie Harris, who scored on a double by Edgar Renteria.
The Dodgers moved to within 3-2 in the bottom half of the inning, scoring their second run on a double to left-center by Penny.
Fielding problems by their respective teams set back Penny and Hudson in the third.
Braves second baseman Kelly Johnson stole second and reached third when Dodgers catcher Russell Martin rifled the ball into center field. Johnson later scored to give the visitors a two-run cushion.
Hudson’s fate was worse.
With two on, Luis Gonzalez shot a ball up the middle to knock in Juan Pierre. The ball then rolled beneath the glove of onrushing center fielder Andruw Jones, which allowed Jeff Kent to score from first and tie the score at 4-4.
The Dodgers went ahead, 6-4, on a single to left by Penny later in the inning, but he failed to hold the lead, giving up two hits and two walks in a two-run fourth inning for the Braves.
Today, the Dodgers will start their final series before the midseason intermission, a three-game visit by the Florida Marlins.