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8:30 a.m., June 23
In a game where the Dodgers fielded a team that looked more like their AAA affiliate Albuquerque Isotopes, the Padres shut down Los Angeles 2-0 on Friday at Petco Park. But it did get a little hairy the last inning as the Dodgers staged a rally.
Robbie Erlin took the hill for the Frairs and except for the first inning where he managed to put runners on first and third base only to escape, he pitched a magnificent game. The Padres, in turn, faced Edinson Volquez, who the club released in late August and the Dodgers picked up a day later.
The Padres got on the board right away, thanks to an error by Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon and Chris Denorfia found himself on second base with one out. After Denorfia swiped third base, Jedd Gyorko hit a ground ball to the third baseman, just far enough from the bag to allow Denorfia to creep toward home without allowing Jerry Hairston to commit to a throw home.
When Hairston threw to first base to get Gyorko, Denorfia took off toward the plate in a perfectly timed move and his head-first slide was just underneath the tag of the catcher. The Padres led 1-0 without the benefit of a hit after an inning.
“That was good base running,” Buddy said postgame. “At that point he wasn’t going on contact, and where the ball took Jerry, Deno was able to come down the line with it. It’s good instincts."
The only other run in the game came in the fifth inning. Jedd Gyorko got a 2-0 fastball from Volquez and ripped it to dead-center field, clearing the fence by plenty.
For the rookie second baseman, it was his 20th home run of the season. “As the season was progressing that was a number that I wanted to get to and it was good to get it. We still have nine more games so hopefully I can add a couple more,” Gyorko said.
Meawhile, with a 2-0 lead, Erlin continued to deal. He commanded his fastball well and pitched 7 2/3 innings – his longest outing of the season – giving up only four hits and a walk while striking out seven.
Erlin talked about his fastball command. “Making sure it’s down. A lot of times you get a ground ball, it turns into an out. That’s always kind of been the struggle for me, and I feel like it’s starting to click,” he said.
Edinson Volquez wasn’t much worse than was Erlin, going 6 1/3 innings and giving up the two runs (one earned) on five hits and four walks with six strikeouts. It’s conceivable that if Volquez had consistently delivered efforts like the one on Friday, he would still be with the Padres.
Luke Gregerson got the last out in the eighth inning and then Huston Street came in to save the game in the ninth. That’s when things got scary.
Skip Schumaker opened up with a double, and one out later, the Dodgers started to pinch hit their big guns. Adrian Gonzalez came up and hit a little flair off of the end of the bat for a single which sent Schumaker to third base, and the Dodgers were in business.
Then the Dodgers sent in rookie sensation Yasiel Puig in to pinch hit, and put Matt Kemp on deck. The predominantly Dodgers fans in the crowd went wild.
Huston Street had other ideas. First he struck out Puig on a slider and then Kemp on the same pitch, and Huston notched his 32nd save of the season and his 26th in a row, and the Padres walked away with the victory.
“The good thing is that they don’t have a whole lot of experience pinch hitting,” Huston said. “Which is a tough thing to do especially after a celebration. A well-deserved celebration, too,” Huston added, concerning the National League Western Division Champion Dodgers.
It’s something that both the Padres and Padres fans would like to experience again sometime soon.
Saturday, the Dodgers will offer Clayton Kershaw (14-9, 1.94) against young Burch Smith (1-1, 6.57) of the Padres. Kershaw is especially tough but the Padres have had some success against him. Game time is at 5:40 PM PDST, and if you can’t make it out to the ball park, catch the game on radio 1090 AM or watch on Fox Sports San Diego. The first 25,000 through the turnstiles will receive a Padres/Xolos Soccer Scarf (whatever that is, I’ve never seen a scarf worn on a soccer field, but what do I know). Players on the Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles (who tied Club Cruz Azul on Friday) are supposed to be throwing out the First Pitch, which should be interesting since soccer players aren’t supposed to use their hands. We’ll see how this goes.