SAN FRANCISCO -- Manny Ramirez put a charge into the Los Angeles offense when he arrived last week. Brad Penny gave the Dodgers' starting rotation a boost on Friday night with a successful return from the disabled list.
Penny finally looked like an ace, Jeff Kent drove in three runs and the Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants 6-2 to move within a half-game of the NL West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks.
Casey Blake and Danny Ardoin each hit a home run for the Dodgers, who won for the fourth time in six games. Angel Berroa also drove in a run.
"The addition of Manny and now of Penny is a big lift for us," Dodgers' manager Joe Torre said. "Brad was pretty much where we hoped he would be."
The Dodgers' Opening Day starter was just glad he was back in the rotation.
"It seems like it's been a long time since I've been out there," Penny said. "It was good to be able to throw strikes again."
Bengie Molina hit a home run and doubled in a run for the Giants, who lost their third straight to the Dodgers.
"Penny wasn't throwing as hard as he normally does," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It looked like he regrouped and made pitches when he had to. His velocity looked like it was down but he can still pitch."
Penny (6-9), who was activated before the game, ended a personal seven-game losing streak. On a strict pitch count, he gave up one hit and one run in five innings to win for the first time since May 2. Penny, who said his problematic right shoulder felt fine, walked three and did not strike out a batter for the second straight start.
"He wasn't as sharp as he could be but he's a little rusty," Torre said. "It seemed like he was having an easy time throwing the ball. His velocity varied somewhat but he knows its there."
The right-hander had been out nearly two months because of a right shoulder injury. It was his first start since allowing seven runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings at Detroit on June 14.
"It was good to have him go out and give us a solid outing," Dodgers' catcher Ardoin said.
Cory Wade pitched an inning and Chan Ho Park went 2 2/3 innings, walking two in the ninth before Jonathan Broxton came on to get the final out for his seventh save in 12 chances.
Barry Zito (6-14), who pitched eight scoreless innings in his last start, gave up five runs, all in the third inning, on six hits over five innings. He walked three and struck out one. Zito dropped to 2-10 at home.
"A couple of strange things happened and that inning got out of hand," Zito said. "I needed to make better pitches down with the changeup. They hit some good pitches."
Ardoin, a former teammate of Zito in the Oakland organization, led off the third with his first home run since Sept. 25, 2005, also against the Giants.
"It was nice to put some good at bats together," he said. "With the playing time I'm getting, I just want to contribute."
Penny and Matt Kemp followed with singles and Russell Martin walked ahead of Kent's bases-clearing double. Kent drew within one RBI of Mickey Mantle (1,509) for 47th on the career list.
The Dodgers have won 17 of their last 22 games in San Francisco.
RHP Brian Falkenborg was designated for assignment to make room for Penny on the 25-man roster. ... Former Giants MVP Kevin Mitchell was honored during the game. ... Dodgers' manager Joe Torre needs one win to tie Joe McCarthy (2,126) for seventh on the all-time list. ... The Dodgers have hit a home run in a season-high six straight games. ... The Giants 22 home wins are the fewest in the major leagues. ... Manny Ramirez went hitless for the first time as a Dodger.