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Dodgers breeze past Padres, brace for tougher test

Starter Aaron Harang and the L.A. offense both click in an 8-1 victory at San Diego. Next up for Dodgers: the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.

May 17, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez

SAN DIEGO — Eleven more days until Matt Kemp is eligible to return from the disabled list.

Kemp's absence was of minimal consequence Thursday, as the first-place Dodgers trampled the last-place San Diego Padres, 8-1, to earn a split of a two-game series at Petco Park.

The Dodgers improved to 25-13, including 2-2 since Kemp was placed on the disabled list with a strained hamstring.

But the void could be a significant factor in the coming days when the Dodgers host the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals in a three-game series that starts Friday. The Cardinals, who lead the National League Central, are the highest-scoring team in the NL.

The Cardinals' leadoff hitter, ex-Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal, ranks second in the NL with a .367 average. Carlos Beltran leads the league with 13 home runs and is second with 32 runs batted in, trailing only Andre Ethier of the Dodgers.

"They're as strong a test as we've seen this year," catcherA.J. Ellissaid. "They're the defending world champions, so it's going to be a fun weekend. It's a good showcase for the Dodgers, to show everybody what we've been doing and that we're for real."

There are no Furcals or Beltrans on the Padres, who have the worst record in the NL at 14-25.

Dodgers starter Aaron Harang (3-2) was either masterful or made to look that way by the Padres, as he held them to four hits over seven scoreless innings.

With three starters on the disabled list, Manager Don Mattingly filled up a lineup card that included .179 hitter Adam Kennedy in the No. 5 spot. No matter.

The Dodgers finished the game with 12 hits, including one by Kennedy. (Mattingly said he batted Kennedy fifth because he was five for 13 in his career against Padres starter Edinson Volquez. James Loney, the only other player Mattingly considered, was 0 for 6.)

In their two previous games, the Dodgers scored a combined three runs.

"We showed we can play without Matt today," outfielderTony Gwynn Jr.said.

Ethier drove in his league-leading 35th run on a single in the Dodgers' two-run first inning. Ethier was two for four with two runs.

Bobby Abreu, the sidelined Juan Rivera's replacement in left field, was two for four with a double and a triple. Abreu scored two runs and drove in another.

A.J. Ellis and Gwynn also collected two hits apiece.

"We have some real good professional hitters here, you know," Ellis said.

The Dodgers were up 2-0 after the first inning and 3-0 after the second.

The lead increased to 5-0 in the fifth inning, which included a two-base error by Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin and a run-scoring double by Loney.

Harang snapped an 0-for-42 drought in the seventh inning with an infield single that scored Kennedy. Harang's RBI capped a two-run inning, which put the Dodgers ahead 7-0.

"I've been worse, trust me," Harang said.

Another two-base error, this one by Padres reliever Miles Mikolas, led to another Dodgers run in the ninth inning.

For Harang, this was a night of redemption. He grew up in San Diego, lives here in the off-season and pitched for the Padres last season. But when he pitched here in the season-opening series, the Padres pounded him for four runs and seven hits in 41/3 innings.

Of his previous outing at Petco Park, he said, "There was a lot of adrenaline so I felt I was a little off mechanically. We've been slowly working on that. The last two weeks we've been focusing on staying through the ball."

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