LOS ANGELES(AP) The
Los Angeles Dodgers
saw a much different
from the one they faced twice last September.
San Diego Padres
' rookie pitched two-hit ball over six innings in his return to Chavez Ravine, and his teammates scratched out a pair of early
runs against the luckless
to beat the NL West leaders 2-0 on Friday night.
A year ago, the Dodgers torched him for 12 earned runs over 6 2-3 innings in his two losses against them.
''Hopefully it gives me a lot of confidence, to know that I'm able to compete up here,'' LeBlanc said. ''Obviously, I know
that something like this isn't going to happen every start. So the best thing I can do is give this team a chance to win every
time I go out there, and I want them to be able to depend on me.''
LeBlanc (1-1) struck out two, walked three and retired his final nine batters in his fourth start of the season and eighth
in the big leagues.
''He's made just eight major league starts, and the first few were rocky,'' manager
said. ''So he knows the things he needs to work on and he's got to continue to refine his game.''
The only hits off the 25-year-old left-hander were
's broken-bat single in the second inning and a third-inning single by
. LeBlanc lowered his ERA from 9.58 to 6.06 while matching the longest outing of his brief career.
''He had an excellent changeup, and he threw it at a couple of different speeds,'' Dodgers third baseman
said. ''He also had a little cutter that he must have picked up in the minor leagues, because I don't really remember seeing
that thing before.''
, acquired in a trade with the
Chicago White Sox
on Monday, made his Dodgers debut in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter for Blake and singled against
. But the right-hander retired Belliard on a short flyball to center with runners on the corners and closer
to fly out, then pitched the ninth for his 34th save in 37 attempts this season.
The Dodgers' loss, combined with victories by Colorado and San Francisco, reduced their division lead to 4 1/2 games over
the Rockies and 5 1/2 over the Giants with 26 games to play.
The Padres are 20 games behind the Dodgers. They have finished a season 20 or more games behind Los Angeles on 11 previous
occasions, including last season.
''If you're referring to yourselves as a spoiler, that's a position you don't want to be in,'' Black said. ''But we're going
to play out this season hard, knowing that the integrity of the schedule means a lot to all of us in this game.
''It's important to me and to our players. Even though we're not headed toward the playoffs, the other team is playing with
high intensity - and we're going to match that intensity. It's also important to play in these types of games against teams
that are possibly headed to the playoffs, because it gives you the experience.''
Kershaw (8-8) threw 106 pitches over six innings, allowing two runs - one earned - and four hits. But again, the 21-year-old
left-hander was the victim of poor run support and remained winless in his last nine outings (0-2) since beating Houston 5-2
on July 18.
''We had some opportunities to score runs,'' Blake said after the Dodgers went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
''It's always frustrating when your pitcher throws well and you can't score any runs for him. It hurts. He did his job tonight,
but we've got to give him some run support. We're a team, so we feel like we let him down.''
Kershaw, whose ERA during his victory drought is 2.75, leads the majors with a .202 opponents' batting average in his 28 starts.
It was the 14th time in last 16 starts that he allowed fewer than two earned runs.
''I didn't pitch that great,'' Kershaw said. ''I had to battle the first two innings, and that really took it out of me. But
I knew I had to keep the team in the game and go as long as possible.''
San Diego added an unearned run in the second after shortstop
and first baseman Loney committed throwing errors on the same play.
reached on a one-out single that caromed off Kershaw and dribbled to Furcal, who bounced his throw past first after charging
the ball. Loney got the carom, but his throw to the plate eluded Ausmus and ended up in the box seats - just in front of Tommy
Lasorda and Dodgers owner Frank McCourt as
scored and Hundley continued to third.
Kershaw minimized the damage, retiring LeBlanc on a grounder to first with the infield in and Cabrera on a flyball. The hit
by Hundley would be the last one Kershaw would allow before he was replaced by
NOTES: Kemp, who came in batting .405 against left-handers, was 0 for 3 against LeBlanc. ... The Padres improved to 22-24
in games against left-handed starters, and will face another one Saturday night when
goes for his 100th big league victory.