Three one-run victories - including two in walk-off fashion - have made for an exciting start to September for the Los Angeles Dodgers .
The Dodgers ended August with an extra-inning loss to Arizona - their fifth in six games - and they've continued living dangerously into the last full month of the regular season as they pursue a playoff spot.
After a 2-1 win over the Diamondbacks on Saturday, Adrian Gonzalez hit a walk-off two-run double for a 5-4 victory over Arizona on Sunday. On Monday, A.J. Ellis' RBI single in the bottom of the 11th gave Los Angeles a 4-3 win in the series opener with San Diego."It's September, now it's time to go," Ellis said. "A couple guys in the clubhouse called it fourth-quarter September. We just want to get in (the playoffs)."
Andre Ethier hit a tying solo homer with one out in the ninth for the Dodgers (73-63), who remained one-half game behind St. Louis for the NL's second wild-card spot and 4 1/2 games behind NL West-leading San Francisco."Other than getting our heart rates up, we're not making it easy on ourselves," Ethier said. "That feeling of knowing we can win these games late is being fortified better. It shows all the guys on this team we're not going to roll over. You got to go out there and earn it."
The offense, though, hasn't always provided Kershaw (12-8, 2.85 ERA) with the necessary help recently.
Kershaw didn't get any in his latest outing, giving up two runs in six innings of a 2-0 loss to Arizona on Thursday. It marked the second time in his last three starts the Dodgers have failed to score for him, accounting for the only defeats during a stretch in which he's 5-2 with a 2.06 ERA.
The left-hander is 4-0 with a 2.04 ERA in his last six starts versus the Padres (62-74), including three this season.
San Diego will counter with Stults (5-2, 2.43), who has gone 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA in five starts since re-entering the rotation Aug. 6. He gave up an unearned run in six innings of an 8-2 win over Atlanta on Wednesday.
"He's been tremendous. He keeps us in every game, he works quick, he throws strikes," third baseman Chase Headley told the team's official website.
Possibly just as impressive, Stults is 7 for 17 at the plate - including a three-RBI performance versus Arizona on Aug. 24.
"I keep thinking it's just luck," Stults said.
The left-hander went 8-10 with a 4.84 ERA in 24 starts and 11 relief appearances with the Dodgers from 2006-09, and he's never faced his former team. However, Hanley Ramirez , who homered Monday, is 3 for 6 with a double off Stults.
San Diego's latest loss was its third straight following a stretch in which it won 10 of 11. Headley hit a two-run homer and drove in another run one day after going 4 for 5 with a homer and a career-high six RBIs in an 11-10 loss to Colorado.
Headley is hitting .435 over his last five games, and he's batting .361 with six homers and 16 RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak versus the Dodgers.
Los Angeles has won 11 of the last 13 meetings at Chavez Ravine.
|San Diego Padres|
|August 23, 2012||Jason Marquis||15-Day DL||Fractured left wrist|
|August 17, 2012||Nick Hundley||Day-to-Day||Bruised right knee|
|August 16, 2012||Nick Hundley||60-Day DL||Bruised right knee|
|August 11, 2012||Huston Street||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
|July 31, 2012||Yasmani Grandal||15-Day DL||Strained oblique|
|July 31, 2012||Yasmani Grandal||15-Day DL||Strained oblique|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|September 02, 2012||Chris Withrow||60-Day DL||Recovery from torn pectoral muscle|
|September 01, 2012||Alfredo Silverio||60-Day DL||Recovery from auto accident, concussion|
|August 28, 2012||Matt Kemp||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee contusion|
|August 28, 2012||Scott Elbert||15-Day DL||Left elbow inflammation|
|August 25, 2012||Shane Victorino||Day-to-Day||Strained hip and back|
|August 25, 2012||Chad Billingsley||15-Day DL||Right elbow pain|
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Dodgers went to extra innings again with visions of a third straight walk-off win.
But with an overworked and injury-depleted bullpen at manager Don Mattingly 's disposal, he was forced to use Matt Guerrier and John Ely late because Jamey Wright and Brandon League each worked two innings the previous game.
Logan Forsythe took full advantage, hitting a two-run single with the bases loaded in the 11th against Ely after Yasmani Grandal tied the score with a two-run homer in the eighth off Guerrier, and the San Diego Padres beat Los Angeles 6-3 Tuesday night.
"We're just at the point where we're kind of at the end of our rope after the last few days with guys unavailable in the bullpen," Mattingly said. "But we have confidence in the guys that are here."
The Dodgers wasted an excellent outing from ace Clayton Kershaw and dropped 1 1/2 games behind St. Louis in the race for the second NL wild card. They remained 4 1/2 games behind the NL West-leading Giants, who also lost in 11 innings at home, to Arizona.
"You've got to give a lot of credit to the Padres. They battled me all night and they put some great at-bats together," Kershaw said. "It's definitely frustrating to lose like that. But at the same time, we've been playing well. Every game has been close, and you've just got to keep grinding. It's September. It's put up or shut up. We've got to win games no matter what."
John Ely (0-1), working his second inning of relief, gave up a leadoff single to Cameron Maybin in the 11th. Everth Cabrera followed with a bunt single, and both runners took an extra base on third baseman Luis Cruz 's throwing error to first.
Will Venable was intentionally walked with one out before Forsythe lined a 1-2 pitch to right-center. Chase Headley followed with an RBI single.
"My approach was just to see the ball deep and try to go back up the box with it," Forsythe said. "Luckily, I got a pitch to do it with and stayed through it well enough to put us on the board."
Padres rookie Tommy Layne (1-0) pitched a perfect inning for his first major league win, striking out Adrian Gonzalez , Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez on 13 pitches. Luke Gregerson got three outs for his fourth save.
The Padres tied it 3-all in the eighth when Headley led off with a single and Grandal drove a 1-0 pitch to right-center for his seventh home run.
Guerrier had been limited to 8 2-3 innings all season due to elbow tendinitis. He took the loss last Friday night against Arizona when he served up a leadoff homer in the 11th inning to Jason Kubel in his first appearance since April 18.
"We've been pretty clutch the second half of the season, and tonight was my night to come through," Grandal said. "Forsythe also did it in the 11th inning with a big clutch hit that got us a win."
Kershaw pitched seven sharp innings and reached the 200-strikeout mark for the third straight season despite giving up a home run to Chris Denorfia on his first pitch of the game. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh, when the Dodgers took a 3-1 lead with Shane Victorino 's RBI single and Gonzalez's sacrifice fly.
Andre Ethier homered in support of Kershaw, who allowed five hits, struck out nine and walked three. The left-hander raised his season strikeout total to 201, joining Sandy Koufax , Don Drysdale , Fernando Valenzuela and Hideo Nomo as the only Dodgers pitchers to whiff 200 or more batters in at least three consecutive seasons since the franchise relocated from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958.
Padres starter Eric Stults allowed a run and seven hits in six innings against his former team.
"Stultsie's been good for us - especially the last month," San Diego manager Bud Black said. "Tonight he matched up with probably the best left-handed pitcher in the game and dueled him pitch for pitch. We've given him an opportunity to jump into a major league rotation and he's pitched extremely well for us."
Denorfia's homer deep into the left-field pavilion was his sixth this season and third leading off a game. It was only the second time in Kershaw's 145 career starts that he gave up a home run to his first batter. Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins did it on Sept. 1, 2010.
"I don't know whether that home run heightened Kershaw's focus - because he doesn't ever look like it needs to be," Black said. "We stressed him a couple of times and he rose to the occasion with strikeouts."
Ethier tied it in the second with his 17th homer and third in four games, including a tying shot in the ninth inning against Gregerson on Monday.
NOTES: The Dodgers announced that closer Kenley Jansen , sidelined since Aug. 28 because of heart arrhythmia, will continue taking blood thinners for 10 more days with the hope of pitching again by Sept. 18 at the earliest. A club spokesman said Jansen might undergo a surgical procedure in the offseason - a cardiac ablation - which is designed to deaden scar tissue and change the heartbeat rate. Longtime team physician Frank Jobe, 87, had the same procedure 10 years ago and said Saturday that it saved his life. ... Dodgers RHP Chad Billingsley , who was 6-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his previous seven starts before landing on the DL with inflammation in his elbow, is scheduled to receive a second platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection on Tuesday. ... Headley was chosen NL player of the month for August after batting .308 with 10 homers and 31 RBIs - becoming the first Padres player to win the award since Tony Gwynn in May 1997. ... The Dodgers' bullpen took another hit when RHP Javy Guerra was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Sept. 3, because of a left oblique strain. RHP Josh Wall was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque.