This makes five in a row against the Pods and 20 of 29 since the start of last year. Dodgers might have taken this one in 11 if not for a baserunning gaffe by Russell Martin, who inexplicably tried to steal third on a 3-1 pitch to Jeff Kent with one out. Kent walked, but Martin was thrown out easily. Took them right out of the inning. And then, Brett Tomko took them right out of the game. Raise your hand if you saw that coming. Hits to three of the first four batters he faced (the guy he retired was bunting). Gives new meaning to the phrase GAME OVER. Dodgers fall to 45-36 and two games behind the Pods (and still a half-game behind the D-backs). … Oh, by the way, Houlton isn’t going to start. He’ll work out of the pen. Hendrickson is going to take Kuo’s spot, but it only comes up one more time between now and the All-Star break. After that, it could be Mark Buehrle or some other person currently wearing the uniform of another club.
Hong-Chih Kuo was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas a few minutes ago, and D.J. Houlton was recalled from Vegas. That clearly means Houlton will start on Wednesday night against the Braves. It will be his first major-league appearance since 2005 and his first major-league appearance since Paul DePodesta, the former Dodgers GM who selected Houlton in the 2004 Rule 5 draft from Houston. D.J. apparently, judging by his minor-league numbers, is a much better pitcher now than he was then. We’ll find out soon enough. He has been on the 40-man roster since the day the Dodgers picked him up, essentially gathering dust, but that also made him the easy guy to call up when the club had exhaused all other options for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation.
According to Ken Rosenthal, reporting on the Fox national pregame show today, Mark Buehrle’s contract extension with the White Sox has fallen through because the club wouldn’t give him a no-trade clause. Kenny seemed to indicate that the Dodgers are the team hot on the trail to acquire left-hander. Not sure where this is going, but I’ll update when there is something to report. … Light blogging today, by the way. Jill Painter is covering the game, and I’m working on a fairly big project that I’m hoping to complete in one day, so if I don’t post the lineup or in-game updates, that’s the reason. I promise I’ll get back to all that stuff tomorrow.
Dodgers made a furious attempt at a comeback, scoring three in the eighth and one in the ninth. Trailing by one with two outs and the bases empty, Jeff Kent then doubled off Trevor Hoffman. But Gonzo then fouled out to the catcher, capping a night when he went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts and zero balls hit out of the infield, and with that, the Dodgers had dropped six of 10 to the Pods this year. The Dodgers banged out 14 hits, the eighth time in their past 11 games that they have had at least 10. But they again stranded too many baserunners, eight of them in all, seven in scoring position and four at third base. The good news is that the Dodgers didn’t go in the tank after the Pods hung seven on Hong-Chih Kuo. The bad news is, they ran out of outs. Clash of the titans tomorrow, Penny vs. Peavy. Until then, the Dodgers are 45-35 and back to third place, a game behind the Pods and a half-game behind the D-backs.
In all the excitement today, I forgot to post this earlier. The Dodgers announced before the game that Marlon Anderson had been designated for assignment to make room for Chin-hui Tsao, giving the Dodgers a 12-man pitching staff. Probably the right move, but too bad about Marlon. This is one of the classiest guys in the game, and I can’t imagine he’ll stay in the organization and go play in Las Vegas. Wherever he goes, here’s hoping he does well. … Nothing has changed since we last spoke … and it doens’t look like anything is going to. Padres 7, Dodgers 2, bottom 5
The Dodgers might have to turn their attention at the trading deadline to acquiring a pitcher, especially now that they are no longer so desperate for another bat. Kuo clearly isn’t going to last in the rotation, but the club is running out of alternatives, unless Ned and Grady want to give D.J. Houlton a shot. Kuo gave up seven runs (six earned) in 3 1/3 tonight, in a critical game for the Dodgers. Dodgers might get back into this one — they have runners on the corners after Nomar finally got a hit and Loney get yet another one — but they can’t keep letting Kuo put them in five-run holes like this. Padres 7, Dodgers 2, bottom 4
Ethier/Kemp isn’t going to be a straight platoon because Kemp, as a right-handed hitter, wouldn’t get nearly enough at-bats that way. Nomar is hitting sixth for the second time after one day in the seven hole. The Dodgers’ seventh (.476) and eighth (.421) hitters tonight are both hitting well above .400
Watch out for flying beer bottles. And bags of baseballs. And airborne bats. Yes, it’s true, Milton Bradley is back. Or at least he will be on Sunday. The volatile one has been traded to San Diego from Oakland, giving him a second go-round with former Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta (because it was sooooo successful the first time), who now is a special assistant in the Pods’ front office. I’m told he won’t arrive until Sunday’s series finale, but that will at least give Dodgers fans one game to, ummmmmmm, welcome him back with open arms (that is, when they aren’t ducking beer bottles). Funny how that oblique injury he used to avoid being traded to Kansas City has healed so miraculously. The shame of it is, the Padres have had such a good thing going for the past couple of years, winning division titles with a closeknit clubhouse with very few major distractions. Well, that much is about to change, as Milton embarks on his 2,332nd fresh start (actually, it’s his third fresh start — in the past four seasons). But hey, maybe this time, it’ll really work. And maybe by next week, I’ll be dating Jessica Biel. What a world.
Brett Tomko almost got one of those three-inning saves because there was nobody out when he came in in the seventh inning and he would have finished the game — except that he didn’t finish the game. He gave up three consecutive one-out hits in the ninth and then walked Stephen Drew, all in an inning that began with the Dodgers leading by six runs. The walk to Drew brought the potential tying run to the on-deck circle, which created a save situation for Saito on a day when the Dodgers had led 9-1 at one point. … In a statistical oddity, the Dodgers left at least one runner on base in all nine innings, a total of 13 for the second game in a row, but this time, obviously, it wasn’t nearly as costly. That goes a long way toward explaining why this game took 3 1/2 hours to complete. … Dodgers go to 45-34 and pull even with the Pods for first place, a half-game ahead of the Snakes. Dodgers have now won seven of nine from the Snakes this season, including five of six in PHX.
Well, as big a win as you can have in Game No. 79, anyway. This gives them a winning road trip and a touch of momentum — especially offensively — heading into the big series with the Pods. This lineup has really come alive since the change of hitting coaches. On this 10-game trip, the Dodgers have reached double figures in hits seven times. Assuming they don’t tack on a few more in the ninth, they will average 5.5 runs a game on this trip. The guess here is that Bill Mueller will be the hitting coach as long as he wants to be … but nobody, including Bill Mueller, knows how long he wants to be. … Dodgers 9, D-backs 3, bottom 8