My father has always called the San Diego Padres the “Pesky Padres” and for years I have shrugged it off and denied it. But, after tonight’s loss at Petco Park, I am second-guessing myself. In a year where the Dodgers are far better then that pesky team from down south, the Dodgers failed to do much.
The first game of the three game set started with so much promise when Carl Crawford walked to start the game. Mark Ellis followed that up by singling to left field to advance Crawford to second. With two runners aboard, Matt Kemp stepped up to the plate. In past seasons, the Dodgers would have scored at least a run, but this year hasn’t been the same for Kemp, who has been mired in a season long slump to open the year. Like so many other times in this young season, Kemp failed to capitalize and struck out looking. Padres starter Clayton Kershaw walked Adrian Gonzalez to load the bases for Juan Uribe who proceeded to end the early rally by grounding into a double play.
Josh Beckett started the game off by striking out Padres lead off hitter Everth Cabrera but wasn’t nearly as fortunate with Will Venable who hit a solo home run to deep right field, staking the Padres to an early 1-0 lead. Carlos Quentin popped up to shallow lift for the second out of the inning before Yonder Alonso doubled to center field. Jed Gyorko followed that up with a single to left field, plating Alonso for a 2-0 lead. Alexi Amarista hit another single to left field, giving the Padres two on with two outs for Cameron Maybin. Beckett regained some composure and struck Maybin out to end the inning.
The Dodgers seemed to have some fight in them at the start of the second inning. Andre Ethier led the inning off with an infield single to short and advanced when Mark Ellis hit a ball to second baseman Amarista’s that he couldn’t handle and reached first on the fielding error. But, as has been a common theme for most of the season, the mounting threat was quickly put down. grounded into a double play to shortstop and Josh Beckett struck out swinging to end the inning.
Beckett came out strong in his half of the second by getting Hundley to hit a come-backer to him and flipped it to Gonzalez for a quick out. Richard and Cabrera both flied out to left field for a 1-2-3 inning.
Crawford continued to prove that he is back in peak form with another single to center field, but he was caught leaning and picked off, negating that single and giving the Dodgers their first out of the third. Mark Ellis lined out to right field before Matt Kemp grounded out to third base to end the inning in a lackluster inning.
The Padres’ bats remained silent in the bottom of the third when Beckett retired the side, in order, for his second 1-2-3 inning in a row. He struck Venable out swinging and Quentin fouled out to catcher. The inning came to an end when Alonso hit an easy come-backer to Beckett for the soft toss to first to record the third out.
The top of the fourth started off with another Dodger reaching base to lead off an inning on a Gonzalez single to left field to bring up Juan Uribe. A usual disappointment, Uribe shocked Dodger fans when he hit a game-typing home run to right field for his second round tripper of the season. However, his home run shouldn’t be much reason for celebration. After spending a few million dollars to bring in the fences at Petco, Uribe’s homer landed on top of the fence and would have been nothing more than a warning track fly out as the Padres moved that fence in 11 feet closer from last season. Ethier followed that up with a single to shallow right before A.J. Ellis flied out to center field for the first out of the inning. Sellers hit a single of his own to right field and Beckett moved both Sellers and Ethier 90 feet closer on a sacrifice back to the pitcher. Unfortunately, Crawford grounded out to second base, stranding two runners in scoring position.
Beckett showed more flashes of his former self by tossing another perfect inning in the bottom of the fourth after getting Gyorko to fly out to right field and Amarista to fly out to shallow left field. Cameron Maybin flied out to shallow right to end the inning.
Mark Ellis led off the Dodgers’ half of the fifth by striking out looking. Matt Kemp came up next and double to left field before advancing to third on a sacrifice fly by Adrian Gonzalez for the second out of the inning. Juan Uribe surprised the Dodger faithful once again by reaching first base on a walk. Ethier came up to bat but grounded out to shortstop to end the threat.
Beckett’s luck came to an end in the bottom of the fifth when he gave a lead off homerun to Hundley to give the Padres a 3-2 lead. In an odd move, Padres manager Bud Black called on relief pitcher Eric Stults to pinch hit for Clayton Richard. Stults popped out to center field before Beckett gave up a single to Cabrera. A.J. Ellis caught Cabrera trying to steal second for the second out of the inning. Venable reached on a walk and proceeded to steal second before Quentin struck out swinging to end the inning, but the damage was done and the Padres took a 3-2 lead.
In an even more surprising move, the pitcher that came out to start the top of the sixth wasn’t even the one Black used as a pinch hitter. Instead, Andrew Cashner got the call and struck A.J. Ellis out before issuing a walk to Sellers. Nick Schumacher pinch hit for Beckett but proceeded to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Chris Capuano relieved Beckett and pitched a perfect 1-2-3 inning by getting Alonso to fly out to shallow left-center, striking out Gyorko and getting Amarista to ground out to second base to end the sixth.
Crawford led off the seventh with a single to center field and advanced to second base on Mark Ellis’ ground out to to shortstop. Kemp grounded out to second base for the second out of the inning, but the speedy Crawford advanced to third on the play to get the potential tying run 90 feet away. Joe Thatcher relieved Cashner and gave up an RBI single to Gonzalez, tying the game at 3-all. Black immediately pulled Thatcher and brought in Luke Gregerson to face Uribe. He got him to hit a ground ball that forced Gonzalez out at second to end the inning.
Ronald Belisario took over for Capuano in the seventh and gave up a lead off single to Maybin. Hundley moved him over on a sacrifice to third baseman Nick Punto. Veteran Mark Kotsay was called on to pinch hit for Gregerson and he hit a double to right-center field, plating Maybin for a 4-3 lead. Belisario got Cabrera to ground out to shortstop, but advanced Kotsay to third. Belisario intentionally walked Venable and hit Quentin with a pitch. That was enough for Dodgers’ skipper Don Mattingly who called on Paco Rodriguez to relieve Belisario. Rodriguez got Alonso to fly out to right field to end the inning.
Dale Thayer came on to start the eighth inning for the Padres and he pitched a perfect frame, striking out Ethier and getting Ellis to fly out to right field. Jerry Hairston, Jr. came on as a pinch hitter for Justin Sellers and struck out looking to end the inning.
Rodriguez walked Gyorko to start off the bottom of the eighth inning. He advanced to second base on a passed ball before Amarista was walked to give the Padres runners on first and second with nobody out. Mattingly called on Matt Guerrier to relieve Rodriguez. Maybin sacrificed Gyorko and Amarista over for the first out of the inning. Hundley grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Gyorko being thrown out at home and Amarista advancing to second. Chris Denofria singled to shallow right field, plating Amarista. Guerrier then walked Cabrera to load the bases with two outs. J.P. Howell came in to replace the struggling Guerrier and proceeded to give up a bases-clearing triple to Venable. Jesus Guzman then came up, pinch hitting for Thayer, and reached first on a walk by Howell. Alonso hit an infield single to shortstop, allowing Venable to score for the fifth run on the inning and a late 9-3 lead. Howell finally struck out Amarista for the third out of the inning.
Brad Brach came in for the ninth inning and gave up a lead off walk to Nick Punto before striking out Crawford and Ellis. In what seems like a fitting end to the game, Matt Kemp popped out to shallow right field and give the Padres a win for their home opener of the season.
”We were all excited to be home and looking forward to playing a good game,” Venable said after tying his career-high for RBIs. ”We wanted to be aggressive and we made all the plays we were supposed to today and it worked out for us.”
All around, this was a pathetic display by the Dodgers who should have beat the Padres handily, who in their past six games had gone just 1-5 and were outscored 40-14 during that span while only hitting one home run.
The Dodgers’ biggest issue was with execution, allowing six of the nine Padres’ runs to score with two outs.
”We have to do a better job, myself included, when we get two outs,” Beckett said. ”The Venable home run, you’d like to have that pitch back, but really the two-out groundball, those are tough to swallow.”
The final line for Beckett was three runs in five innings while allowing six hits and walking one. He struck out four.
”He’s going to be around the plate and give up his share of hits,” manager Don Mattingly said. ”But he keeps himself in the game.”
Padres starter Clayton Richard also pitched five innings and allowed just two runs on eight hits and issued three walks while striking out three.