Astros 4, Dodgers 1

Same old, same old. Dodgers went 1 for 9 w/RISP and the one hit didn’t even get the run home, a single by Luis Maza in the fifth on which Blake DeWitt could only move up one base to third. Two strikeouts and a fly ball later, DeWitt still hadn’t moved, and the Dodgers still hadn’t scored. They have now scored a total of two runs in their past three games, both of them on sacrifice flies. And Jason Repko’s first major-league game since October 2006, when he pinch ran in Game 1 of the NLCS? He went 0 for 5 with four Ks that would have been five Ks if plate ump Gary Cederstrom hadn’t called a balk on Jose Valverde as Repko was striking out for the fifth time. Repko also misplayed a ball in CF, a key moment in a decisive, three-run fourth for the ‘Stros. Eric Stults wasn’t going to dominate forever, and this ballpark isn’t kind to lefties with its short porch in left field. If that got in Stults’ head, he wouldn’t admit it afterward. But that fourth-inning rally did start with a one-out walk to Lance Berkman, who had taken Stults off the ivory-colored wall ABOVE the leftfield paviliion in the first inning. With half the season still to come, Berkman looks suspiciously like the N.L. MVP. … Dodgers fall to 38-44. The bad news is the Snakes won, so the boys fall to 3 1/2 back. The good news is the Giants are getting hammered at home by the Cubs, so they’ll stay 2 1/2 behind the Dodgers.

Pierre to miss four to six weeks

As Joe Torre said, it could have been a lot worse. JP should be able to start doing some form of exercise in about six days. Meanwhile, Matt Kemp is out tonight, and possibly tomorrow as well, with an infection in his right eye. He couldn’t get his contact lens in this morning. And Angel Berroa, who went 4 for 28 on the homestand, also is sitting. … Finally, an I call ‘em or what? Repko leading off.

CF Repko
RF Ethier
C Martin
2B Kent
1B Loney
LF Young
3B DeWitt
SS Maza
LH Stults

Angels 1, Dodgers 0

And hold the phone on what I reported earlier today about Pierre, because he may NOT be the everyday LF. In fact, he may be headed to the DL. Or not. He isn’t flying to Houston with the team tonight, and he will have an MRI tomorrow. If it shows nothing, I’m guessing he’ll fly to Houston on Tuesday and maybe play that night. If it shows something, he’ll probably go on the DL for the first time in his career, and the Dodgers undoubtedly will recall Jason Repko from Vegas and put him in the leadoff spot until Furcal is activated in a week. Torre said after the game that Delwyn Young is the most likely candidate to lead off tomorrow night, when the Dodgers will operate with 24 players, but he didn’t commit to that. Said Matt Kemp is a remote possibility, too. If you didn’t see it, Pierre stole second in the sixth inning, sliding in headfirst as always, and Erick Aybar fell on the back of Pierre’s left knee. Pierre rolled around in agony for a few minutes, then tried to walk it off, then tried to talk Torre into leaving him in the game, but that wasn’t going to happen. … Dodgers fall to 38-43 and stay 2 1/2 behind the Snakes. Meanwhile, the Giants are creeping up again. They’re just 2 1/2 behind the Dodgers, whom they will host for three starting Friday.

Juan Pierre will be everyday LF even AFTER Andruw Jones returns

Torre just told us this morning, although he said Rafael Furcal would probably go back into the leadoff spot when he comes back, with Pierre dropping to second.
“(Pierre) has been that consistent guy for us every day, and he refuses to acknowledge any bumps or bruises, even though you know he has them,” Torre said. “He has been great. Juan is going to be our left fielder, and Andruw will be our center fielder.”
That means, of course, that Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp will compete for playing time in RF. Although Torre wouldn’t acknowledge that was part of the plan, it is apparent that those two benefitted from pushing each other early in the season. Ned Colletti is a big proponent in the value of having players compete, his thinking being that it brings out the best in the players doing the competing.

This morning’s other news is that Chan Ho Park is out of the rotation. It isn’t that Joe is backing off on his plan to go with a six-man rotation. It’s just that it won’t start until Brad Penny comes off the DL, probably on Saturday at San Francisco, when he is tentatively slated to pitch UNLESS he suffers some sort of setback in his simulated game on Tuesday at Houston. Yes, Chan Ho has had two really good starts in a row. But they weren’t going to go with seven starters, so somebody was going to have to go sometime, and Joe wants Chan Ho as a long reliever, a role he has been really good in all year.

Here’s today’s lineup

LF Pierre
RF Ethier
C Martin
2B Kent
1B Loney
CF Kemp
3B DeWitt
SS Berroa
RH Lowe

More non-no-hitter trivia

Here are the four occasions during MLB’s modern ear (1900-present) that what happened tonight happened previously:

April 12, 1992 — Boston’s Matt Young in a 2-1 loss at Cleveland (see previous post)

July 1, 1990–Yankees’ Andy Hawkins no-hits the White Sox for eight innings in a 4-0 loss at Comiskey Park

April 30, 1967–Baltimore’s Steve Barber (8 2/3) and Stu Miller (1/3) combined to shut out Detroit for NINE innings at Memorial Stadium, but the Tigers win 2-1.

April 23, 1964–Houston’s Ken Johnson no-hits the Reds for nine innings at Houston, but the Reds win 1-0.

The last time the Dodgers were no-hit at home was on April 8, 1994, by Atlanta’s Kent Mercker, and the only other time it happened at Chavez Ravine was on July 28, 1991, when Dennis Martinez pitched a perfect game for Montreal. Finally, Montreal’s Mark Gardner no-hit the Dodgers for nine innings on July 26, 1991, then gave up a hit in the 10th and lost the game 1-0. From what I understand, Gardner was INITIALLY credited with a no-hitter in that game, but that ruling later was nullified, and the no-hitter came off the books.

Dodgers 1, Angels 0: this is NOT a no-hitter

The rule is that it doesn’t go into the books as a no-no if the visiting team no-hits the home team for eight innings in a game the home team wins without batting in the bottom of the ninth. There are all kinds of rules, such as rain-shortened games, extra-inning games, etc. But basically, the only way to get credit for a no-hitter is to no-hit a team for at least nine innings and win the game. This is the first one of these in the majors since Matt Young did it for Boston at Cleveland on April 12, 1992, with the Indians winning 2-1. By that time, Young had been converted into a serviceable starter, several years after he had been a horrendous closer for the Dodgers. … Anyhoo, what got lost in the way Jered Weaver pitched tonight was the fact that Chad Billingsley absolutely DOMINATED in what statistically was his best outing of the season. This marked the third time he has thrown seven shutout innings, all three of them coming in the past six weeks, but he allowed four hits each of the first two times. Tonight, he allowed only three, and struck out seven. He did walk three, but obviously, none of them came back to haunt him. He was helped by two spectacular plays in RF by Andre Ethier, one a running grab of a ball hit up the gap by Howie Kendrick with a man on first in the seventh inning, taking away what probably would have been an RBI double. He also made a great play to cut off a ball that was heading toward the corner in the sixth and gunned down Erick Aybar trying to stretch it into a double. Then, in the ninth, Luis Maza, who had just entered defensively for Jeff Kent to start the inning, made an unbelievable diving stop of a grounder to his left by Casey Kotchman, and Maza needed every inch of stretch he could get out of his body and his arms to get to it. He got up and threw Kotchman out. … Also lost in all the oddities of this game was the fact the Dodgers have now won an interleague series for just the second time in the past three seasons, and they also won their first series against any team other than the Cincinnati Reds since taking two of three at Milwaukee May 13-15. First back-to-back shutouts for the boys since May 29-30, 2007, with both of those coming at Washington. … Dodgers improve to 38-42 and stay 2 1/2 behind the Snakes.

Schmidt’s rehab start complete

He pitched 2 2/3 innings, gave up a run (earned) on three hits, walked two and struck out one. Left with Vegas leading 4-1 over Fresno. Threw 45 pitches, right on schedule. We’ll probably find out what the next step is tomorrow morning, but at this point, I can’t imagine it’s anything other than him making another rehab start for the 51s in a few days.

Kuroda to start on Wednesday at Houston …

… unless he feels some sort of residual negative effect from the 45-pitch simulated game he pitched today, which was split into three “innings.” Rafael Furcal, Danny Ardoin, Andruw Jones and Mark Sweeney all took turns taking their cuts, and Kuroda looked good. .. As for Brad Penny, he is probably going to throw a similar simulated game (trying saying that three times quickly) sometime during the Houston series, although there still is a slim chance he could be sent on a minor-league rehab, something manager Joe Torre said he would rather not do. Guessing if the sim game goes well, Penny would come off the DL and return by the start of the next homestand a week from Monday if not sooner. … Update on bullpen coach Ken Howell, who is hospitalized: he is being administered antibiotics for a foot infection, which is believed to be diabetes-related. He will remain at University Hospital for now and will not make the Dodgers’ trip to Houston and San Francisco. Triple-A Las Vegas pitching coach Jim Slaton, who grew up in the Antelope Valley and informed me in spring training that his parents are avid Daily News readers, will fill in for Howell until he returns.

Tonight’s lineups — for BOTH teams

Although I learned many years ago to never fill out my scorecard this far in advance of game time, because when you do, it’s all but guaranteed that someone will be late scratch, and you will have to get out the whiteout. But these are the lineups as of right now, three hours, 38 minutes before first pitch.

Angels:

Izturis. 3B
Aybar. SS
Anderson. LF
Guerrero. RF
Hunter. CF
Kotchman. 1B
Kendrick. 2B
Mathis. C
Weaver. RHP

Dodgers:

Pierre. LF
Ethier. RF
Martin. C
Kent. 2B
Loney. 1B
Kemp. CF
DeWitt. 3B
Berroa. SS
Billingsley. RHP