SAN DIEGO — The Dodgers may be the worst hitting team in baseball, but they found a soft touch Wednesday night against the Padres.
Facing a pitching staff that has given up more home runs than any in the National League, the Dodgers hit three into the bleachers at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium to power their way to a 6-2 victory in front of 29,336.
All three homers came off starter Ed Whitson and all came with two out.
The damage was early and complete.
Mike Davis and Jeff Hamilton hit two-run homers in the first inning and Eddie Murray added a bases-empty homer in the fifth.
Davis' homer was his second in three games against the Padres, and Murray's was his first since he hit two in a game in Philadelphia on May 14.
Murray had gone 35 games and 127 at-bats without a homer and had only two hits in his previous 28 at-bats. The homer came after Murray walked in his first two plate appearances.
"We just got beat by the long ball," Padre Manager Jack McKeon said. "We didn't have our outfielders up high enough."
The victory prevented the Padres from sweeping the three-game series.
Starting pitcher Tim Leary (6-5) came within three outs of his first complete game since April 16, but he yielded to Jay Howell after giving up a lead-off single to shortstop Garry Templeton in the ninth.
Howell retired the first two Padres in order before a fielding error by Hamilton on pinch-hitter Carmelo Martinez's grounder to third extended the inning. Howell struck out Shawn Abner to end the game.
"It was a toss-up whether to take me out," Leary said. "But Jay was warmed up, and they had a right-hander coming up. It was a good move."
In earning his third victory in four starts, Leary gave up 10 hits and two runs, only one of which was earned. That came on catcher Mark Parent's bases-empty homer in the seventh. The Padres' other run was unearned and came after a passed ball in the first inning.
Leary disposed of most of the other Padre threats easily. He struck out Abner to end the second with runners on second and third. And twice he got Tony Gwynn, who entered the game as the league's leading hitter, to ground into double plays.
"Those double plays were the key," Leary said.
The loss was Whitson's third in a row after a career-best, seven-game winning streak and dropped his record to 9-5.
Even when he was winning, home runs had plagued Whitson.
He had given up 13 in his previous 14 starts. The three by the Dodgers raised his total of 16, high on a pitching staff that has allowed a National League-leading 68 home runs.
"As far as the home runs are concerned, it was just bad pitch selection, bad location, too," Whitson said. "Three pitches took me out of the game."
It was the second consecutive start home runs had cost Whitson a game. In his previous start, Whitson gave up all the runs on two homers in a 3-1 loss to Houston.
And just as in that loss, the clincher was a two-run homer in the first inning.
Whitson retired the first two batters, but then walked Murray. Davis followed with his fourth homer, a drive that carried three rows into the right-field bleachers for a 2-0 lead. The homer was Davis' second of the series and the ninth the Padres have allowed to a player named Davis. Eric Davis of Cincinnati has hit five against the Padres and Glenn Davis of Houston has hit two.
Mike Scioscia then singled to center before Hamilton took Whitson's 1-0 pitch into the first row of bleachers in left-center field for a 4-0 lead.
The Padres cut the lead to 4-1 with an unearned run in the bottom of the inning.
Gwynn doubled home second baseman Roberto Alomar, who had singled and advanced to second on a passed ball with one out. Leary avoided further trouble by striking out Jack Clark and getting Marvell Wynne to ground out to the mound to end the inning.
Murray hit his homer in the fifth to put the Dodgers ahead, 5-1.
The Dodgers made the score 6-1 on an RBI double by Willie Randolph in the seventh against reliever Pat Clements.
Parent's homer above the 370-foot mark in right-center field in the bottom of the seventh closed the scoring. Parent was making a last-minute start in place of Benito Santiago, who had been given permission by McKeon to miss the game to be with his wife, Blanca, who was hospitalized to give birth to the couple's second child.