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Penny shuts down Rockies; Dodgers tied for first

DENVER (AP) -- Los Angeles starter Brad Penny didn't mind getting
pulled by manager Grady Little this time.

"He gave me the opportunity," Penny said after pitching 8 1/3
shutout innings in the Dodgers' 3-0 win over the Colorado Rockies
on Friday. "I'm thankful for that."

Penny (7-1) was losing steam when Little took the ball from him
in the ninth and gave it to reliever Takashi Saito, who picked up
his third save. Penny gave up five hits and struck out five.

The right-hander had been upset when Little pulled him on May 29
before qualifying for the victory. Penny was given an 8-1 lead in
that game against the Braves, but Atlanta closed to 8-5 in the
fifth inning. He had complained about the decision on the mound, in
the dugout and after the game.

This time there was no protest from Penny, who is off to his
best start since the 2001 season when he began with the same 7-1
mark for the Marlins. He finished that season with a 10-10 record.

While Penny has now matched his win total of all last season --
and lowered his ERA this season to 2.34 -- he refused to speculate
on whether he's pitching at an All-Star level.

"As long as I keep going out there and winning, I'm not even
thinking about that," Penny said.

In 12 career starts against Colorado, Penny has an 8-2 record
with a 2.25 ERA. It's the third-best of any pitcher with a minimum
of five starts against Colorado. He trails Mark Prior (1.69) and
Roy Oswalt (1.73). He's also 3-0 with a 0.45 ERA this season
against the Rockies.

"When you're successful against a team, you know that in the
back of your mind," Penny said. "You go out there and you know
the park's playing pretty big this year. That's a huge outfield."

The Dodgers discovered how big in the later innings. Jorge
Piedra, called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Friday, hit a
shot that was caught by right fielder J.D. Drew on the warning
track. In the ninth, Todd Helton crushed a ball off Saito that Drew
hauled with his back on the outfield scoreboard.

"I thought it [Helton's hit] was gone," Penny said.

Colorado manager Clint Hurdle thought so, too.

"I was surprised that Helton's ball didn't get into the
seats," Hurdle said.

Penny remains a puzzle the Rockies can't seem to figure out.

"We haven't solved him yet," Hurdle said. "Our guys pitched
pretty well."

Byung-Hyun Kim (3-4) gave up three runs and eight hits in 6 2/3
innings. He struck out five and walked three. He's given up five
earned runs in three outings against Los Angeles.

Los Angeles took a 2-0 lead in the third inning on an RBI triple
by Russell Martin and a run-scoring single by Penny.

Nomar Garciaparra extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a
double in the fifth inning. He was thrown out at the plate by right
fielder Brad Hawpe trying to score on J.D. Drew's single.

Garciaparra added an RBI double in the seventh to score Rafael
Furcal.

Willy Aybar's career-high 13-game hitting streak ended when he
went 0-for-4.

The Dodgers are 22-10 since May 5 and have won 16 of their last
24 games.

Game notes
Colorado P Ray King, ejected from Wednesday's game, said he
spoke with executive vice president of baseball operations Jimmie
Lee Solomon to give his version of the story. King and manager
Clint Hurdle were ejected by home-plate umpire Tony Randazzo for
arguing strikes. "I got my point across," King said. ... Colorado
P Sun-Woo Kim and INF Jason Smith accepted outright assignments to
Triple-A Colorado Springs. ... Los Angeles OF Kenny Lofton stole
career base No. 581 in the third inning to move into 18th place on
the all-time list.