Through seven, Dodgers up 3-1

This one is just flying by, with seven innings complete in about an hour and forty minutes. Only five hits in the game, and the scoring stopped after the second.

The Dodgers put together back-to-back doubles in the first to score their first run, and James Loney hit a two-run homer in the second to cap the scoring at 3.

Hiroki Kuroda is in the midst of one of his masterful performances, it seems. He’s allowed only two baserunners in seven innings pitched. His only blemish is a Paul Konerko solo shot in the second.

6/23: Dodgers at White Sox

Meanwhile, with all of this Manny stuff going on in Albuquerque, the Dodgers have a game to play in Chicago. Hiroki Kuroda and John Danks tonight. Kuroda hasn’t been sharp since returning from a strained oblique injury: he hasn’t gone more than six innings and has recorded only one quality start out of four possible.

John Danks has been very up and down this season, recording a 2.74 ERA during April but struggling in May, raising it to 4.80 by the end of the month. His last two starts have been solid, however, as he’s gone at least seven innings in both and allowed three runs in all.

Mitch Jones making his second career start at DH. Keep an eye on White Sox No. 9 hitter Gordon Beckham — who, after being selected 8th overall in the 2008 draft, has struggled to a .196 average in 51 at-bats. He was called up on June 5 when former Dodger Wilson Betemit was DFA’d.

Dodgers
Pierre, LF
Furcal, SS
Hudson, 2B
Blake, 3B
Ethier, RF
Martin, C
Kemp, CF
Loney, 1B
Jones, DH

White Sox
Podsednik, LF
A. Ramirez, SS
Dye, RF
Thome, DH
Konerko, 1B
Pierzynski, C
Anderson, CF
Getz, 2B
Beckham, 3B

Manny not talking

Manny Ramirez won’t be talking to reporters during his 10-game minor league stint, which begins tonight when he plays for the Dodgers Triple-A team in Albuquerque. The Dodgers’ slugger, who is serving a 50-game suspension for violating MLB’s drug policy will make no public comments until he comes off suspension July 3.

Incidentally, Ramirez will bat lead-off tonight in an effort to get him as many at bats as possible. Fans can listen live here or watch live here.

Each of Ramirez’s at-bats on tonight can be seen live on ESPNEWS. First pitch is at 6:05 p.m.

Around the N.L. West

The Rockies have won 17 of their last 18 games after beating the Angels 11-1 Monday, and though it’s far too early to talk about the Wild Card race, the win does move them 1/2 game behind San Francisco and Milwaukee for the lead.

Kudos to former Dodgers manager Jim Tracy, who has turned things around in Colorado after replacing Clint Hurdle May 29. Tracy did a decent job with the Dodgers from 2001-2005, guiding L.A. to the National League West crown in 2004. But it never seemed like he clicked with then Dodgers’ G.M. Paul DePodesta, and he stepped down after the 2005 season, his only losing year with the Dodgers.

Tracy suffered through two miserable seasons in Pittsburgh, and it’s nice to see he’s landed on his feet – and doing a great job – with the Rockies.

The Giants manged just four hits in a 5-1 loss to Oakland.

In Arizona G.M. Josh Byrnes is reluctantly thinking about moving players as the D-Backs come to grips with what’s been a lost season thus far. Arizona is 91-113 after starting 20-8 last season – a shocking downturn for a club that won the N.L. West in 2007.

If I’m the Dodgers, I’m at least inquiring about starter Jon Garland, who was 14-8 (4.90 ERA, 196 IP) with the Angels last season but has struggled to a 4-7 record this year. The former Kennedy of Granada Hills standout isn’t a top of the rotation type pitcher, but he’d fit in nicely as an innings eating No. 5. Garland has thrown at least 190 innings seven straight years, and from 2004 through 2007 he exceeded 200 innings pitched. Garland signed a one-year, $6.5 million contract with the D-Backs with a mutual option for 2010. The club buyout on the 2010 option is $2.5 million.

San Diego promoted top prospect Kyle Banks to add some pop to the offense Friday but his defense will be just as important. Blanks will play mostly in the outfield, but he’ll also spell Adrian Gonzalez at first base when the Padres visit Texas in attempt to give Gonzalez a break from the Texas heat. Gonzalez will likely D.H. a game or two against the Rangers.

Morning briefing

Yes, the whole Manny-in-Albuquerque thing is really turning into a circus, in case you were wondering.

So while the Dodgers are in Chicago to take on the White Sox, members of the front office will be in New Mexico. Assistant GM Kim Ng and team spokesman Josh Rawitch are making the trek out as well, according to Dylan Hernandez’ report at the LA Times and Rawitch’s blog.
Just imagine what it’s going to be like July 3 in San Diego.

So far this season, Blake DeWitt has been a bit of a disappointment in Albuquerque (well, he’s also had 19 at-bats with the Dodgers, but he has only three hits to show for them): .259/.354/.435 and only two home runs in 170 at-bats. In fact, he put up a similar line a year ago, in the majors: .264/.344/.383. With the Isotopes, he has walked more times than he’s been struck out, which is a good sign.

Game time tonight is 5:11 PST. Hiroki Kuroda and John Danks are slated to start.

Manny raking

In batting practice, that is. Ken Gurnick at MLB.com spoke with Rob Flippo, a bullpen catcher with the Dodgers and Manny’s personal BP pitcher during morning workouts at Dodger Stadium. According to Flippo, Manny is hitting better now than at any point during spring training.

Ramirez will play Tuesday for the Dodgers’ Triple-A team in Albuquerque as part of his 10-game minor league stint before joining the Dodgers off suspension July 3. Fans can listen to the game live here or watch live here.