Vincent Farnsworth 2:38 p.m., Sept. 26
The Padres looked finished early on Saturday evening, going down to the Dodgers 5-0 by the top of the fourth inning. The announced attendance was 31,909 and however many people were actually in the stands, most seemed to be Dodgers fans. They were ecstatic. They had every reason to be happy.
Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon was busy being the spark plug in the Dodgers' combustion engine. In the first inning, Gordon singled to center and stole second base, eventually scoring on a sacrifice fly by Matt Kemp.
In the third inning with two outs, Padres starter Dustin Moseley walked Gordon on four pitches, and Gordon again stole second base. Mark Ellis then walked and Matt Kemp singled Gordon home. Andre Ethier then doubled in both Ellis and Kemp.
In the top of the fourth, A.J. Ellis homered off of Moseley on a 1-1 count. 5-0. And in the fifth inning, the Dodgers again threatened as Gordon doubled to right field. A fly ball by Mark Ellis moved Gordon to third, but he was stranded as Moseley then struck out Kemp and Ethier in impressive fashion.
When asked about Dustin Moseley's performance after the game, manager Buddy Black said, "He battled. The big inning got him a little bit. We've seen Dustin sharper."
The bottom of the fifth inning, Jason Bartlett singled with one out, then Kyle Blanks and Chris Denorfia walked to load the bases, with Cameron Maybin grounding out in between. Chase Headley then walked to force home a run, and Dodgers starter Chris Cupuano was then relieved by Jamey Wright.
Jesus Guzman then walked on four pitches forcing in another run. Then Nick Hundley walked on four pitches, and Jamey Wright was pulled for Scott Elbert. Elbert then uncorked a wild pitch, scoring Chase Headley. Yonder Alonso was plunked by a pitch to re-load the bases, and Orlando Hudson singled to left scoring Guzman, but then Nick Hundley was thrown out at the plate as Hudson overran first base and drew the throw, and Hundley attempted to score.
By the end of the fifth inning, the score was tied at five.
It remained that way until the bottom of the eleventh inning. In Anthony Bass' second inning of relief, A.J. Ellis singled up the middle and after Justin Sellers sacrificed Ellis to second base, none other than Dee Gordon drove in Ellis with what would prove to be the winning run. The Dodgers handed the Padres their third straight loss to open up the season, 6-5 in 11 innings.
"I like the fact that we took balls and swung at strikes," Bud Black said afterward. "They were in and out of the zone that [fifth] inning, and we didn't help them. We made them throw strikes and got back in it via the walk plus the last RBI on the single to left. I like the patience that was shown that inning."
We just couldn't break through, after we scored the five runs we just couldn't mount any pressure on their bullpen as well. We're off to a slow start offensively, there's no doubt about that. Hopefully these guys will spin out of it quick. If it happens in the middle of June, you don't think about it much, but when it happens to open the season it's magnified to a point."
Dee Gordon was a problem for the Padres the entire game. Gordon was 3 for 4 including a double and a pair of walks, three stolen bases, two runs scored and a game-winning run batted in. Afterward, Dustin Moseley reflected on Gordon. "He's a scrappy guy, you got to make your pitches, he bats well. And then when he gets on the base path, he wreaks havoc."
The Padres had just four hits over the eleven innings on Saturday. With only three hits on Friday and five on opening day, the dynamic hitting last seen in Cactus League play seems to have stayed behind in Arizona. On a more positive note, play on the field appears improved over the first two games, with no fielding errors by the Padres and a pair of nice plays in center field by Cameron Maybin. The question remains whether and when the bats are going to wake up.
Before Saturday's game, manager Bud Black confirmed that there will be no substitute for Tim Stauffer's spot in the rotation the first time around. Stauffer is on the disabled list. Since Monday is an off day, Edinson Volquez will start Tuesday's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It will keep the four active starting pitchers on a cycle of five days rest. Next Saturday would be the next time the fifth spot comes around in the rotation, and Black indicated that he would make a decision on the starter for next Saturday sometime next week.
Up next, on Sunday afternoon the Padres will try to avoid the sweep in the opening four-day series against the Dodgers. Clayton Richard will face ex-Padre Aaron Harang. The game is scheduled to start at 1:05 PM and will be carried by Fox Sports San Diego and can be seen by Cox Cable and DirecTV subscribers. People with Time Warner cable can listen to the game on radio, XX 1090 AM. Or find a neighbor with an alternative, whichever.