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Maddux wins 354th after a shaky start

September 02, 2008|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

For your consideration as the worst team in an awful division, the National League West not so proudly presents the San Diego Padres.

The Padres are so bad they're 17 games behind a division leader whose record is barely above .500. If they were in the NL Central, they would be 31 1/2 games back of the Chicago Cubs.

From the Dodgers' perspective, San Diego resides in a perfect spot -- front and center on their September schedule as they make a playoff push.

The Dodgers defeated the Padres, 5-2, Monday evening at Dodger Stadium in the first of nine meetings this month between the Southern California rivals.

Greg Maddux pitched 5 2/3 innings against his former team after it looked as if he might not make it through one inning, the Padres opening the game with three consecutive singles to take a 1-0 lead.

San Diego went quietly from there on a night it trotted out a less-than-venerable lineup that included rookies Will Venable, Chase Headley, Nick Hundley and Matt Antonelli. Maddux (7-11) retired 17 of 18 hitters at one point after the Padres' early hit parade.

"He was great," Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said of Maddux, who notched victory No. 354 to tie Roger Clemens for eighth place on the all-time list. "I mean, the first three guys up in the game get base hits and then he just shuts them down completely."

Casey Blake hit a home run and Maddux, who began the game batting .109, had a run-scoring single to help the Dodgers notch a third consecutive victory and remain 2 1/2 games behind Arizona in the NL West.

Maddux had posted an 0-2 record with a 7.32 earned-run average in his first two starts of his second stint with the Dodgers.

But against the team that traded him 13 days ago for two minor leaguers, the right-hander finally showed some signs of bolstering the Dodgers' rotation.

After Kevin Kouzmanoff's run-scoring single in the first inning gave San Diego a 1-0 lead and put runners on first and second with nobody out, Maddux held the Padres scoreless until the sixth.

"The first three [batters] just hit it where nobody was and maybe somewhere in the middle [of the game] those same pitches were hit at people," Maddux said. "I just think that's baseball, really."

Consecutive singles by Adrian Gonzalez and Headley with two out in the sixth inning cut the Padres' deficit to 4-2 and prompted Torre to replace Maddux. Four relievers combined to hold San Diego scoreless over the final 3 1/3 innings, with closer Jonathan Broxton pitching a scoreless ninth inning for his 11th save.

It's no fluke that the Padres have the league's second-worst record. Catcher Hundley contributed to the Dodgers' first run, in the first inning, when he made a throw several feet wide of second base while trying to cut down Andre Ethier stealing second base.

Ethier took third base on the error and scored on James Loney's single through the left side of the infield, which extended his hitting streak to 12 games.

Blake tallied the second of the Dodgers' three steals and scored on Angel Berroa's bloop double in the second inning, putting the Dodgers ahead for good and helping the team's recent eight-game losing streak recede further into the background.

"We've got some life back and we're going out there and running the bases hard, playing good baseball," catcher Russell Martin said. "Our intensity's back, and that's the main thing. You go through a rough patch and everybody's trying to do too much.

"Now everybody's trying to do their part. If everybody has that mind-set like we have the last three games, we're going to be OK."

Especially if they keep playing the Padres.


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