A Valuable Penny

Brad Penny has plenty of bad memories of Shea Stadium, including last year's playoffs.

The Los Angeles Dodgers ace looks to notch a rare road win against the New York Mets when the teams begin a three-game series on Friday night.

Penny (14-3, 2.59 ERA) is putting together the best season of his seven-year career, emerging as a leading contender for the NL Cy Young Award. He's 4-0 with a 2.01 ERA in his last six road starts.

Whether he continues that success is doubtful because of his past history at Shea Stadium, where he is 1-8 with a 6.75 ERA in 10 career starts. That doesn't include his relief appearance in the opener of last year's division series against the Mets in which Penny, bothered by a bad back, allowed two runs, two hits and two walks in one inning to suffer the loss in the Dodgers' 6-5 defeat.

Penny, however, is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in two home wins against the Mets this season, striking out 12 and walking two over 13 1-3 innings. He didn't have to face an injured Moises Alou in either one of those games, though, and Alou is 10-for-21 (.476) against him and back in the New York lineup.

The right-hander had some control problems in his last outing, matching a season high with five walks in a 4-3 win over Colorado on Sunday. Penny yielded one run and two hits, but the bullpen blew a 2-1 lead heading into the eighth inning.

Los Angeles (66-61) has won four of seven games against New York this year - all at home. Mets third baseman David Wright is 10-for-28 (.357) against the Dodgers and Jose Reyes is 10-for-30 (.333)

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made New York -110 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 8 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 58% of bets for this game have been placed on New York -110 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

New York (71-55) owns a five-game lead in the NL East over Philadelphia. The Mets, however, lost their third straight home series by dropping two of three to San Diego to begin this six-game homestand.

Billy Wagner had a difficult series, blowing a save in a 9-8, 10-inning loss on Thursday. The closer gave up two runs and three hits in the top of the ninth inning, two nights after he entered a tie game in the ninth and allowed a run in a game the Mets rallied to win 7-6.

"Hey, it's going to happen," Wagner said Thursday. "That was about the best I've pitched in three weeks. It's the best control I've had."

Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran is 8-for-13 with three homers and 13 RBIs in his last four games. He went 7-for-17 (.412) with three homers and six RBIs in four games last month against the Dodgers.

Los Angeles has won six of eight to move within 2 1/2 games of San Diego for the NL wild card. The Dodgers, who were blanked in three straight games Aug. 5-8, scored 24 runs to win two of three in Philadelphia, including a 5-2 victory on Thursday.

"A week ago, we looked like a dead team when we weren't scoring runs," manager Grady Little said. "Now it looks like a different team."

The Mets are hoping to do a better job against the first two hitters in the Dodgers lineup than they did in Los Angeles. Leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal is 10-for-32 (.313) and Juan Pierre 10-for-28 (.357) against New York this year.

Pierre is batting .417 (20-for-48) during an 11-game hitting streak, which is three shy of his season high.

Oliver Perez (11-8, 3.52) will start for New York after failing to last past the sixth inning in each of his last three outings. The left-hander did win his most recent start by giving up three runs over 5 2-3 innings in a 7-4 win at Washington on Saturday.

Perez yielded one run over 7 1-3 innings to beat the Dodgers 4-1 on July 20 to improve to 4-4 with a 3.97 ERA in nine career starts against them.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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