Dodgers starter Aaron Harang struck out a team record nine consecutive… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
Then in his second start, Aaron Harang came out of the phone booth and laughed at the mere mortals. It was going to be that kind of night.
This was a much different Harang from the right-hander who couldn’t get out of the fifth inning in his first start, also against the Padres. This Harang threw fastballs past hitters, dropped 70 mph curves on the corners and froze hitters.
After giving up an initial hit to Cameron Maybin to begin the game, Harang went on a strikeout tear Friday, the likes of which the Dodgers have never seen.
Harang struck out nine consecutive batters, surpassing Johnny Podres’ record of eight set 50 years ago, and finished the frigid night with 13 strikeouts.
That the Dodgers would ultimately blow a two-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, only to win it 9-8 in their next at-bat on four consecutive walks before an announced crowd of 31,601 at Dodger Stadium seemed secondary to the stunning performance by Harang.
The victory pushed the Dodgers’ record to 7-1, best in the major leagues, and increased their lead in the National League West to 1 1/2 games over the Diamondbacks. Overall, the Dodgers struck out 18 Padres.
In his first outing against his former teammates, Harang left after 4 1/3 innings, having surrendered four runs on seven hits and five walks. The only thing that even hinted at his second start was his six strikeouts.
But after giving up that initial hit to Maybin, he tore through the San Diego lineup, striking out each of the Padres. Eight of the nine strikeouts were swinging.
Will Venable ended the streak when he led off the fourth inning with a solo home run. Harang seemed almost rattled, then giving two more runs on a walk and a pair of doubles.
The Dodgers scored four times in the third and fourth innings off left-hander Clayton Richard, the only pitcher to have beaten them this season.
Richards battled with his control in the third inning, whe he walked three. Mixed in with an error, an RBI infield hit by Mark Ellis and a two-run bloop single by Andre Ethier, it was enough to score four.
In the fourth inning, Justin Sellers doubled and A.J. Ellis followed suit to drive him in. Tony Gwynn Jr. singled in Ellis before Matt Kemp sent a two-run homer out to right.
Harang left after throwing 6 1/3 innings. The 13 strikeouts matched his career high, set in 2007. He gave up four hits and walked two.
The bullpen, which had been a somewhat surprising early strength, faltered on this night. Todd Coffey gave up two runs on two hits and a hit batter. Not his best timing, since the Dodgers are going to have to make a roster move Saturday when Ted Lilly comes off the disabled list.
Then in the ninth inning, with the Dodgers poised to win 8-6, Kenley Jansen gave up a two-out, game-tying, two-run homer to Chase Headley.
The Dodgers won anyway, when Andrew Cashner walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning and left-hander Joe Thatcher came in to walk Andre Ethier and force in the winning run.
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