LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers were playing great
while Nomar Garciaparra was on the disabled list. So putting
together another impressive winning streak during his recent dry
spell wasn't much of a stretch.
Garciaparra was the offensive spark Saturday night in the
Dodgers' 14-5 rout of the Colorado Rockies. His three-run homer and
a three-run double helped Brad Penny become the National League's
first 15-game winner and kept the NL West leaders four games ahead
of second-place San Diego.
"All good hitters go through periods where they're just not
coming up with opportunities, or making good on the ones they
get," second baseman Jeff Kent said. "But what's good about this
team is that everybody is pulling some weight, and we don't have to
rely on one guy. So when a guy is going through something like
that, you just pat him on the back and say 'Good luck,' because you
know that good things will eventually happen."
Garciaparra's six RBI were his most since he had eight for the
Red Sox on July 23, 2002, with Boston.
"I've been getting on top of the ball a little bit and working
hard at driving the ball," said Garciaparra, who was 2-for-18 on
the homestand before the home run. "My swing has been there, but
sometimes the ball just wasn't finding holes. So you tell yourself
you're having good at-bats and you keep working hard."
J.D. Drew and rookie James Loney also homered for Dodgers, who
have won seven straight and are 26-7 since a 1-13 stretch
immediately following the All-Star break. They are a season-high 11
games over .500.
If the Dodgers do beat out San Diego for the division title, the
Rockies will have had a lot to with it. Colorado is 3-12 against
Los Angeles -- and 10-6 against the Padres.
"That's great, because we haven't helped ourselves out much
with the Padres," Kent said. "That's what's great about this
game. Everywhere you look, there's something that's unpredictable
and things happen that you just can't explain."
Penny (15-7) eclipsed his previous career high for wins after
being staked to a 7-0 lead. The right-hander allowed five runs and
nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out two and did not walk a
batter, after giving up nine walks over his previous two outings.
Penny was 5-0 against the Rockies this season with a 1.93 ERA --
becoming the first pitcher ever to beat them five times in one
year. The last Dodgers pitcher to beat any team five times in a
season was Orel Hershiser, who was 5-0 against Atlanta during his
1988 Cy Young campaign.
Colorado was blanked on four hits over the first five innings,
but rallied with five in the sixth to slice the Dodgers' lead to
7-5. But the Dodgers responded with six in the bottom half to
increase the margin to 13-5. The big blow was Garciaparra's
bases-clearing double against Ramon Ramirez, but five of the runs
were charged to Jeremy Affeldt.
Aaron Cook (9-13) allowed seven runs and six hits over five
innings. One of the hits was Garciaparra's 15th homer, which ended
the right-hander's streak of 78 2/3 innings this season without
allowing a home run on the road.
Cook has made 28 starts, which is a major accomplishment in
itself considering that his career nearing ended in 2004 when he
underwent two surgeries to remove blood clots from his lungs.
"He's never experienced a full major league season before. A
lot of people have lost sight of that," Rockies manager Clint
Hurdle said. "Grace period? Yes, but not because of his health.
It's because it's the first time he's working his way through a
major league season from start to finish. His health is fine and
he's strong. He feels better than he's ever felt, and definitely
better that when he went into the hospital."
Colorado is a season-worst 11 games off the pace in the NL West
following its ninth straight road loss, and in danger of
consecutive last-place finishes for the first time in the team's
14-year history. The Rockies were tied for first on July 5 with a
44-40 record, but are only 18-33 since then. They have finished no
better than fourth place since 1997 -- the year before the Arizona
Diamondbacks came into existence.
Only three pitchers since 1957 went an entire season
without giving up a homer on the road -- and pitched more than 78
2/3 innings -- Steve Rogers in 1982 (130 1/3), Reggie Cleveland in
1976 (86.0) and Bruce Berenyi in 1984 (81 1/3). ... Loney's homer
in the eighth was the first of his career.