Dodgers starter Chris Capuano delivers a pitch during the first inning… (Lenny Ignelzi / Associated…)
In six starts against any team not named the San Diego Padres, left-hander Chris Capuano has pitched like an ace. Against the lowly Padres, he’s pitched like a journeyman desperate to hang on.
It makes no sense, but as managers and players alike are fond of saying in these situations, that’s baseball.
That was a 4-2 loss for the Dodgers and Capuano, his first of the season, on Wednesday in San Diego.
The injury-riddled Dodgers sent out a lineup that wouldn’t have been allowed in a spring training game -- it had only one regular, Andre Ethier.
It wasn’t a lineup designed to score much, and it did not surprise, sending both runs across in the first and then going so quietly it was hard to remember a single at-bat.
Capuano, meanwhile, was not his normal, sharp self. Anyway, the normal, sharp guy the rest of the league knows.
Against every other team this season, Capuano is 5-0 with a 1.38 earned-run average. In two starts against the Padres, he’s 0-1 with a 6.55 ERA.
Things at least started promisingly enough for Capuano when the Dodgers scored twice in the first. Tony Gwynn Jr., starting in center for the injured Matt Kemp, singled and scored on a double by Elian Hererra, who was making his first major league start.
Herrera scored on an Ethier sacrifice fly, and the Dodgers had an early 2-0 lead.
Capuano, however, immediately ran into trouble in the form of Chase Headley, who hit a solo home run in the bottom of the first.
It remained a 2-1 lead for the Dodgers until the sixth when Headley -- in another nine-pitch at-bat -- doubled in two more to give the Padres a 3-2 lead.
The Padres added one more in the seventh after loading the bases on an Orlando Hudson single, a Capuano error on a sacrifice bunt and a walk. That brought a call to reliever Javy Guerra, who threw four consecutive balls to Cameron Maybin to force in the final run.
In his 6 1/3 innings, Capuano (5-1) allowed four runs on six hits and three walks, throwing 94 pitches.
After their first-inning outburst, however, the Dodgers' meager lineup could do nothing with Clayton Richard, whose situation is the exact opposite of Capuano's.
Richard had lost five consecutive decisions, his only victory this season coming against the Dodgers. He is now 6-1 lifetime against the Dodgers.
On Wednesday, Richard went seven innings, holding the Dodgers to two runs on just four hits. He struck out six, walked one and was not deducted any points for opposing a triple-A lineup.
Until Bobby Abreu singled with one out in the ninth, the Padres had set down 15 consecutive Dodgers. The Dodgers ended the day with just five hits.