Broxton battles dog days again

Jonathan Broxton acknowledged that the wear and tear of the season is taking its toll on his mind and body.

"We've played 120 games already," Broxton said. "You travel around. You pitch three nights in a row. You pitch four out of six days. It starts wearing on you."

Before getting the save Friday night with a perfect ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs, Broxton had blown three of his last six save opportunities and gave up the deciding run in the Dodgers' 3-2 loss to St. Louis on Wednesday.

Through Thursday, Broxton's earned-run average in July and August was 4.66.

Broxton had a similar midseason slowdown last season, when he posted a 5.11 ERA in August. He lowered that figure to 0.79 in September.

"It's always July and August," Broxton said. "That's why they call it the dog days. It's just going out there and battling through it. September comes and you're in the hunt and you get a boost."

The 56 innings that Broxton had pitched entering Friday trailed only the 57 1/3 tossed by Kevin Gregg of the Cubs among National League closers.

Broxton said that the big toe on his right foot, which caused him problems last month, isn't bothering him.

Manager Joe Torre said he believes Broxton, even though he had to basically force him to admit that he was hurt in July.

Broxton said he hasn't felt any added pressure since the Dodgers acquired George Sherrill on the eve of the trade deadline. Sherrill was an All-Star closer with Baltimore last season and hasn't given up a run in his 10 2/3 innings as a Dodger.

Of the possibility of being replaced by Sherrill, Broxton said, "I don't even worry about it. I'm not saying it wouldn't bother me, but whatever it takes to win is fine with me."

Leading the way

Matt Kemp gets on base more than any player in the majors when leading off an inning, according to STATS LLC.

Among players with at least 50 plate appearances to open an inning, Kemp ranked first through Thursday with a .464 average and .521 on-base percentage. He drew 10 walks in his first 94 plate appearances when starting an inning.

On Friday, Kemp singled to start the bottom of the third and struck out when leading off the bottom of the fifth.

Birthday boys

On this day 33 years ago, Jeff Weaver was born in Northridge. On that same day, Randy Wolf was born in nearby Canoga Park.

Weaver said he recalls facing Wolf in Little League all-star games starting when they were 9 years old.

"We had some good battles," Weaver said. "You always remember those battles. Obviously, he was one of the name guys on that team."

Weaver and Wolf faced each other again in college, with Weaver pitching at Fresno State and Wolf at Pepperdine. They both tried out for the 1996 Olympic team.

"Our mothers still talk," Weaver said.

Short hops

Hiroki Kuroda felt encouraged about his progress after playing long toss, saying, "I feel like I'll be ready to come back when I'm eligible to come off the disabled list." Kuroda is eligible to be activated on Aug. 31. . . . Brad Ausmus will start in place of Russell Martin today to catch knuckleballer Charlie Haeger. Because the Cubs are starting a left-hander in Ted Lilly, James Loney will sit. . . . Left-hander Will Ohman is heading to triple-A Albuquerque today.


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