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DODGERS FYI

Fast, slow, slower: Dodgers' Vicente Padilla keeps Phillies off-balance

The Dodgers' Game 2 starter has varied his speeds and pitches for a postseason ERA of 0.63.

October 17, 2009|Ben Bolch

He has gone from August castoff to October conqueror.

At this rate, Vicente Padilla could start the World Series opener should the Dodgers make it that far.

All the veteran right-hander has done in two postseason outings is hold two potent lineups to one run in 14 1/3 innings, the latest command performance coming Friday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.

Padilla limited the Philadelphia Phillies to one run in 7 1/3 innings in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series, keeping the team that led the league in home runs and runs scored within striking distance until the Dodgers could rally for two late runs and a 2-1 victory.

"The truth is that he's pitched as well as anyone for us this postseason," shortstop Rafael Furcal said of Padilla, who was released by the Texas Rangers two months ago. "When no one in the world believed in him, he pitched incredibly."

Padilla's dominance was especially critical on a day Phillies starter Pedro Martinez baffled the Dodgers during seven scoreless innings.

Padilla kept the Phillies off-balance by mixing pitches and varying speeds. He started off Shane Victorino's third-inning at-bat with a loopy 54-mph curveball that catcher Russell Martin said seemed "like somebody's tossing a ball up in the air. . . . Shane asked me, 'Did you get the speed on that one?' I said, 'Fifty-four,' and he started chuckling."

The laughter quickly subsided. Padilla's next pitch was a 97-mph fastball, and Victorino popped up to Furcal on a 77-mph curveball two pitches later.

Even Ryan Howard's fourth-inning homer wasn't Padilla's fault, Martin said.

"I'll take the blame for that one," the catcher said of the curveball Howard hit over the fence in left-center field. "I put the fingers down and he threw it exactly where I was set up."

As he walked off the field after his longest outing in nearly five months, Padilla tipped his cap to raucous applause. He allowed four hits and one walk while striking out six.

It was the second consecutive gem for a pitcher who tossed seven scoreless innings against St. Louis in Game 3 of the division series.

"I think that last game in St. Louis helped me a lot," Padilla said in Spanish. "It made me know I could deal with the situation."

The Rangers released Padilla because they considered him an agitator who threw too often at opponents and was late to meetings.

The Dodgers didn't sign him out of the goodness of their hearts; they needed pitching depth after Hiroki Kuroda was hit in the head by a line drive.

Now they could join a long list of off-season suitors for a pitcher with an 0.63 postseason earned-run average.

"He's a star," left fielder Manny Ramirez said. "He's one of the best pitchers in both leagues. I'm just happy he's on my team."

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

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BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX

Ace of an acquisition

A look at Vicente Padilla's 10 starts since he was signed by the Dodgers on Aug. 19.

*--* Opp. W-L IP ER BB SO @Col. W 5 2 1 4 Ari. ND 5.1 1 2 5 @Ari. W 6 2 1 3 @SF W 6 1 3 5 SF ND 5 4 1 3 @Wash. ND 5 4 3 6 @SD ND 2 0 1 2 Col W 5 1 0 10 NL Division Series @StL W 7 0 1 4 NL Championship Series Phi ND 7.1 1 1 6 *--*

Source: mlb.com

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