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MLB Dodgers at Diamondbacks

June 25, 2007

MLB Baseball - L.A. Dodgers (-130, 8.5) at Arizona Diamondbacks 9:40 PM EST

Nomar Garciaparra of the DodgersAnother year of failure against the junior circuit saw them produce a 5-10 record, including a 9-4 drubbing at Tampa Bay yesterday. The Dodgers head to the desert understanding the importance of big four games series with division leading Arizona.

Manager Grady Little made sure his team understood what this series means, by pulling ace Brad Penny from scheduled start yesterday to have him open against the D-Backs tonight.

On many levels this is a wise decision, as the visiting Dodgers are 13-2 when "Big Bad Brad" is the starter for L.A., including 6-1 on the road. If opponents had a nickel for every run Penny allows they would be in tough financial shape.

Penny has a 2.12 earned run average and is 17-4 against the money line after giving up one or less earned runs last outing over the last season and a half. (Dodgers Record)

The Dodgers have been hitting the ball on this road trip, averaging better than 10 hits a game. The problem is generating enough hits that produce runs, as they have averaged leaving eight runners on base per game, leading to 3-3 record to this point.

This all stems from an issue that was known before the season began, which was a lack of power in the line-up. Those three run homers do a nice job cleaning up the base paths and adding runs to the scoreboard. The Boys in Blue are 29th in baseball in long balls with a mere 51.

Arizona's youth movement is in full swing and the results are a pleasant surprise, being in first place in the last week of June.

Manager Bob Melvin is not putting much emphasis on this achievement even for his young team. "We'll look at the standings and we're in first place, but there's a lot of baseball left," manager Bob Melvin said. "(We) feel good about where we are right now, but keep our nose to the grindstone each at-bat and each pitch."

The Snakes look forward to serving up a little home cooking for their division rival with a 16-5 record against the ML after four or more consecutive home games this season.

This record is quite the opposite of how Los Angeles performs on extended road trips with 43-69 (-29.9 Units) mark against the ML after four or more consecutive road games over the last three seasons.

Micah Owings will be trying to advance his 5-1 record as a +117 home underdog according to sportsbook.com.

The rookie right-hander allowed four runs in 5.7 innings last Wednesday against Tampa Bay which was just the second time in 11 starts he has allowed more than three runs this season. The Snakes are 7-4 in Owings starts for +3.7 units.

Arizona is stout 24-16 at Chase Field and 32-22 against right hand starters. Of course Penny is anything but a normal starting pitcher in the groove he is in. Penny is 6-2 against Arizona and his team is 10-3 after a loss of
four or more runs on the year.

The D-Backs are 26-11 when the money line is +125 to -125 this season, yet hard to go against such a dominate pitcher like Penny in this position, especially when Los Angeles is still hitting the ball solidly.

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