Anybody who could have imagined these Dodgers beating Joe Saunders before the game started would have seemed delusional at the time. But now, they seem prescient. Russell Martin homered in the first inning, a solo shot, and Andre Ethier hit a three-run blast in the seventh after entering defensively to start the inning. It marked the first time the Dodgers homered twice in the same game since June 7, the day they beat the Cubs and Carlos Zambrano. Only three of the runs came off Saunders, because the Dodgers drove his pitch count to 92 by the end of the fifth inning, so Scioscia had to pinch hit for him in the sixth. Chan Ho Park was magnificent, shutting out the Halos on four hits over six innings, and he now has allowed a run on seven hits over 11 innings in two starts since being inserted into the rotation. Brian Falkenborg, Jonathan Broxton and Takashi Saito retired the final nine Angels batters in order, Broxton and Saito striking out the final six. Dodgers go to 37-42 and move within 2 1/2 of the Snakes, the closest they have been since May 30. The Snakes are now leading the division at 40-40. Unbelievable.
… even if it’s delivered with crossed fingers and held breath. … Rafael Furcal, Andruw Jones and Nomar Garciaparra all are scheduled to begin minor-league rehabilitation assignments on Monday at Las Vegas, and Furcal and Garciaparra are expected for now to rejoin the team in time for the final homestand of the first half, which begins a week from Monday. Jones is expected for now to rejoin the team in time for the start of the second half on July 18 at Arizona. His rehab will be split into two segments, the first four days to test his knee and make sure it holds up to the stress, then a three-day break back in Los Angeles, then eight more days at Vegas to get his swing back in midseason form. … Jason Schmidt will start his second rehab assignment by pitching for Las Vegas tonight at Fresno. His previous assignment was spent entirely with Single-A Inland Empire. He’ll throw 45 pitches. … Brad Penny will NOT throw a simulated game tomorrow, but he will throw a bullpen, as will Hiroki Kuroda, and Kuroda might even pitch batting practice to one or two batters.
Finally, here’s today’s lineup
Can’t believe THIS lineup didn’t score. Dodgers left at least one runner on base in each of the first seven innings, then went without a whimper over the final two. Three times, the Dodgers got a man to third with less than two outs. Obviously, they didn’t score any of them. Forget about the standings, because if this team doesn’t learn situational hitting, it’s not going anywhere. Snakes are idle today, so the boys fall 3 1/2 back, and their record falls to 36-42. Starting to look like a long summer, folks.
The former big-league right-hander was last seen going 0-5 with a 7.20 ERA in six starts for the Nationals last year before they released him. He also spent 2 1/2 seasons with the Giants and 1 1/2 with the Cubs. For his career, he is 23-29 with a 4.25 ERA in the majors. But to illustrate just how far his star has fallen, the Dodgers have assigned him to high Single-A Inland Empire. He was originally drafted by the Giants as a first-round sandwich pick in 1999.
He’ll play for the World Team. He is batting .294 for Double-A Jacksonville, with 11 doubles, a triple, two homers, 30 RBI and 51 runs scored. He has a .409 on-base percentage, having walked 50 times while striking out just 44 times. … The U.S. team will feature the U.S. Olympic team’s coaching staff, meaning it will be managed by former Dodgers skipper Davey Johnson. The hitting coach will be former Dodgers OF Reggie Smith. The game will be played on July 13 at Yankee Stadium.