Dodgers starter Aaron Harang delivers a pitch during the first inning of… (Denis Poroy / Getty Images )
Aaron Harang had been the laggard, the one pitcher in the rotation struggling to find his form.
The other four starters in the rotation were a blistering 15-5 with a 2.61 ERA. Harang started Thursday 2-2 with a 4.46 ERA.
But it is beginning to look like the right-hander wants to join the party, and already has as far as the Padres are concerned, after leading the Dodgers to an easy 8-1 victory in San Diego.
While the Dodgers were peppering Edinson Volquez and the Padres bullpen for 12 hits, Harang was holding San Diego scoreless in his seven innings on only four hits.
This was actually Harang’s third consecutive strong start. After going 1-2 with a 5.72 earned-run average in April, in three starts this May he’s 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA (three earned runs in 21 innings).
Thursday he was never really in trouble, pretty much having his way with the Padres all night. In addition to the four hits, he did not walk a batter and struck out six. He almost played with them.
The Padres scored an unearned run in the ninth to avoid the shutout.
Offensively, five different Dodgers drove in one run -- Dee Gordon, Bobby Abreu, Andre Ethier (pushing up his National League best to 35), James Loney and even Harang -- while A.J. Ellis had two RBIs.
As they had on Wednesday, the Dodgers jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Unlike Wednesday, they never did lose the lead, adding one more in the second and two more in the fifth and seventh innings.
Abreu, Ethier, Ellis and Tony Gwynn Jr. each had two hits – Abreu’s a triple and double.
The Dodgers are now 7-2 against the struggling Padres, who have 10 players on the disabled list and likely added another in the sixth when outfielder James Darnell dove for a Gwynn drive and injured his left shoulder.
The victory ended a 10-game stretch against division opponents, the Dodgers going 7-3 to remain six games up in the National League West.
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Aaron Harang gets in the rotation groove in Dodgers' 8-1 victory