Saturday, September 15, 2007

Nomah, "Kids" Bite D-Backs!

For the Dodgers' Nomar Garciaparra, 2007 has been a very trying season. After tying for the team lead in home runs with a year ago with 20 despite missing a quarter of the season, the former A.L. batting champion went into last night with only six longballs this year. Of late, "Nomah" has also lost playing time thanks to the continued hot bats of up and coming stars James Loney, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Last night, "Nomah" and the young guns made sure that the Dodgers' post-season hopes remained alive against the Arizona Diamondbacks starter, Doug Davis.

Brad Penny started the game for the Dodgers and was pretty shaky throughout, walking in a run after giving up two hits and hitting a batter in the first. The Dodgers came right back in the bottom of the inning as Rafael Furcal would single and later score on a Loney double.

Both pitchers would cruise through the next two innings, but would run into trouble in the following two. The D-Backs would manufacture a run in the fourth as Chris Young singled, stole second, advanced to third on a Russell Martin throwing error and then scored on a Stephen Drew sacrifice fly. Martin would atone for his error in the bottom of the inning as he would drive in Jeff Kent with a run-scoring single.

In the fifth, the D-Backs would strike again, as Mark Reynolds would hammer a ball deep into the left field seats to score Conor Jackson. For the third straight time though, Davis gave it all back and then some thanks to some shoddy defense as Pierre would walk and move to third after another Loney single. Kent grounded into a double play to score Pierre to make it a 4-3 lead for the D-Backs. "Nomah" then drove a ball deep to center field for his seventh homer of the year to tie the game. Davis should have escaped without further damage, but a crucial error on a Martin grounder by Drew extended the inning... Kemp would make him pay, lining a triple deep to right to score Martin. Ethier then drove Kemp in with a single to right and Davis was through for the night. As it turned out, so was Penny's night but that turned out to be just fine for the Blue Crew.

With that the game was pretty much decided as both bullpens pitched very well; the only score coming on an Ethier single which plated Nomah in the bottom of the seventh inning. Mark Hendrickson, Rudy Seanez, Joe Biemal and Takeshi Saito would combine to pitch four scoreless innings and give Penny his 16th win of the year. Saito lowered his ERA to 1.21 in picking up his 39th save. With another scoreless inning, he could actually best the 1.20 ERA put up by Eric Gagne during his magical 2003 season. With the win, the Dodgers pulled within 4 1/2 games of the Diamondbacks for the N.L. West division lead and remained 1 1/2 games behind the victorious San Diego Padres in the N.L. Wild Card race. This afternoon, Derek Lowe takes on Livan Hernandez in game two of this crucial series.


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