LOS ANGELES – In Monday’s series opener against the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles hopes to add to the pitching woes of scheduled starter Brad Penny, who was knocked around in his only start at Dodger Stadium since leaving the team three years ago.
The Dodgers (32-41) defeated Houston 1-0 on Sunday behind backup catcher Dioner Navarro’s eighth-inning homer. Navarro will likely see his playing time increase with Rod Barajas being placed on the disabled list before the game.
“The best part about all this was getting rid of the funk that was in here during the losing streak,” Navarro said. “It’s nice to hear the loud music again and see the happy faces, because the last five games really got us down. Hopefully, this is the start of something good.”
The Dodgers won despite a season-low three hits and have plated 12 runs while batting .203 in the last six games.
Matt Kemp, the team leader with 57 RBIs, has driven in one run in the last six, while Andre Ethier is batting .227 with a homer and two RBIs.
They could have better luck against Penny (5-5, 4.93 ERA).
Penny was an All-Star with Los Angeles in 2006 and 2007, when he went 32-13 with a 3.65 ERA, but the Dodgers declined his team option following an injury-plagued 2008 in which he posted a 6.27 ERA.
In his only start at Chavez Ravine since leaving the Dodgers, Penny was tagged for seven runs and five hits – including three homers – in 2 2-3 innings of a 12-1 loss for San Francisco on Sept. 19, 2009.
Penny is having a mediocre first season with Tigers, but he’s been struggling a bit lately.
The right-hander is 1-2 with a 6.67 ERA in his last five starts, and has a 7.36 ERA in six road outings this year.
Against Cleveland on Wednesday, Penny gave up four runs and eight hits in a season-low 3 1-3 innings in a 6-4 loss but didn’t receive a decision.
Despite Penny’s struggles, the Tigers (39-33) are one game back of first-place Cleveland in the AL Central. They defeated Colorado 9-1 on Sunday to avoid getting swept.
Miguel Cabrera hit his 14th homer and scored three times Sunday, and is batting .533 in his last four games. He is also hitting .458 in six interleague games this year.
The Tigers are visiting Dodger Stadium for the second straight season after dropping two of three there last May.
Scheduled starter Clayton Kershaw’s turn in the rotation didn’t come up in that series, and in his only career outing against Detroit on June 15, 2008, he allowed two hits in four shutout innings before a rain delay.
Against Cincinnati on Tuesday, Kershaw (6-3, 3.28) gave up one run and four hits in seven innings of a 3-2 loss but wasn’t credited with a decision. It was an encouraging performance for the 23-year-old left-hander after he was knocked around for six runs in each of his previous two outings.
Although Kershaw had those two shaky outings, both came on the road. He has been tough to beat lately at Dodger Stadium, where he is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts since May.
Facing an AL team at home also bodes well for Kershaw, who is 1-0 with a 1.90 ERA in four interleague games at Chavez Ravine since 2009.
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