• Quotable: "We've always got Penny's back and he's always got our back. We know that if he has one shaky inning, he's going to come back strong and keep pitching hard." -- Kemp
-- ESPN.com news services
Dodgers 8, Mets 6
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Brad Penny wasn't happy about being lifted with one out in the seventh inning. He wanted to continue pitching, and he kicked over something in the dugout as an outlet for his frustration.
Of course, no one with Penny's record this season would want to come out of a game.
The burly right-hander became the first starting pitcher to open a season 12-1 for the Dodgers since the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1958, and Matt Kemp's three-run homer keyed a comeback from a four-run deficit in an 8-6 victory over the New York Mets on Saturday.
"We've always got Penny's back and he's always got our back," Kemp said. "We know that if he has one shaky inning, he's going to come back strong and keep pitching hard. And that's what happened. He stayed in the game, we got some big hits and we came out with the win."
The only other pitcher to start 12-1 for the Dodgers since the exodus from Brooklyn was reliever Phil (The Vulture) Regan, who won 14 of his first 15 decisions in 1966. Three others got off to 11-1 starts in L.A. -- including Sandy Koufax (1966), Rick Rhoden (1976) and Doug Rau (1977).
Penny is the first Dodgers starter to win seven consecutive decisions since Kevin Brown won nine straight from April 29 to June 17, 2003.
"Wins and losses doesn't really [explain] how you're pitching," Dodgers catcher Russell Martin said. "I mean, you get a guy like Derek Lowe who's been pretty much awesome the whole year, and we haven't been giving him much run support. Then with Penny, we give him a little more run support. Every time we give Brad a cushion, he keeps the other guys from scoring. And when he does give up a couple of runs, we're there for him, too."
Penny, whose only loss was a 9-1 drubbing by the Angels down the freeway in Anaheim on May 18, allowed four runs -- three earned -- and six hits in his 6 1/3 innings. It was only the third time in his last 11 starts that the two-time All-Star allowed more than one run.
Jorge Sosa (7-5) gave up six runs and eight hits over four innings in his second start since coming off the disabled list -- both losses. The six earned runs tied a season high for the right-hander, who allowed six the last time he faced Penny in a 9-1 loss on June 13 at Los Angeles. But Sosa refused to blame the mound at Dodger Stadium for his problems.
"I can't have any excuse about the mound," Sosa said through a translator. "Today and the last time I pitched here, I didn't have any command of my pitches. If I had the command like I had in San Diego, I wouldn't have had any problems.
"It was obvious I left all of my pitches up in the strike zone. And when you make those kind of mistakes against a team like the Dodgers that's leading the National League in hitting, you're going to pay."
"That's huge," Martin said. "When you get down by a few runs, a lot of times it seems like every at-bat becomes a little harder. But the guys didn't press. They got on base, then Kemp got that big home run and got us back in the game."
The Dodgers pulled ahead 6-4 with five runs in the fourth. Kemp followed an RBI single by Andre Ethier with his sixth homer, a drive to left-center on a first-pitch slider. Rafael Furcal and Juan Pierre hit two-out doubles, accounting for the sixth run.
Los Angeles tacked on two more in the sixth for an 8-4 lead before the Mets got both runs back in the eighth against Joe Beimel on Beltran's 19th homer and third in three days. But Jonathan Broxton struck out Wright and Carlos Delgado to end the inning.
Broxton also pitched a perfect ninth for his second save as closer Takashi Saito sat out his third straight game with tightness in his right shoulder. If Saito's problem becomes more serious, at least the Dodgers have a strong replacement waiting in the wings.
"He definitely has the stuff to close," Martin said. "It's a different mind-set throwing in the eighth inning compared to the ninth, but I'm sure he's got the character to do it. He's an intense guy, and I think it can only make him better. He throws 95-96 in the eighth inning -- and it probably translates into 98-99 in the ninth."
Penny started the Dodgers' comeback with a double in the third inning and scored their first run on a two-out single by Pierre that extended his hitting streak to 14 games, two shy of his career best.
FOX TV's national audience missed seeing Penny's booming double off the center-field fence because the network had cut away to Milwaukee to show Barry Bonds' second at-bat of the day. Bonds was out on a comebacker to the mound. ... Hall of Famer Frank Robinson visited Willie Randolph in the visiting manager's office before the game. ... As expected, the Mets placed 2B Jose Valentin on the 15-day disabled list because of a cracked bone in his right leg. INF Anderson Hernandez was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans.