Padres avoid no-no, but not loss in LA
Ludwick ends Padilla's bid in seventh with one of two hits
LOS ANGELES -- Longtime Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully has taken to calling the big, looping curveball Vicente Padilla throws on occasion the "soap bubble," which is more or less an Eephus-looking pitch with the arc of a slow-pitch softball offering.
Padilla threw this pitch a handful of times on Wednesday on his way to taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning of an eventual 9-0 victory by the Dodgers over the Padres in front of a crowd of 48,988 that howled in delight every time he threw it.
It wasn't this pitch that impressed Padres manager Bud Black the most, but more the fastball that touched 94 mph on occasion, a pitch that constantly tied the Padres hitters in knots, as Padilla eventually finished with a two-hit shutout.
"It's the way he pitches," Black said. "He's got that rare ability to flip that curve up there with good arm speed. That's hard to do. But it was more about the fastball tonight. I saw a few 94 mph in there."
Padilla (5-3), who tossed his first shutout since April 27, 2008, got Adrian Gonzalez on a ground ball to start the seventh inning, but newcomer Ryan Ludwick lined a ball off of the glove of first baseman James Loney for the Padres' first hit.
"It was a line drive off a pretty good high pitch," Padilla said. "He hit a pretty good pitch, you can't really do anything about it.
"I'm very happy today because I didn't throw that many pitches, and the last game in four innings I threw a lot of pitches, but I was able to minimize pitches. I was very happy."
Padilla then allowed a single up the middle to Chase Headley in what was a 4-0 game to that point. But the Padres, who have gone 17 innings without scoring a run, saw their brief flirtation with a rally end when Yorvit Torrealba grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
"He located his pitches down and away really well," said Torrealba, who saw his 15-game hitting streak end. "You've got to give him credit. And he got a ground ball when he needed it."
San Diego pitcher Wade LeBlanc, who became the sixth pitcher in the National League with 10 losses, allowed four runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings. LeBlanc (5-10) struck out six and walked one.
"Wade hung in there ... there was sort of an unfortunate chain of events in the second," Black said. "But he pitched into the seventh and saved our bullpen a little."
LeBlanc, to his credit, had only one rough inning, and that came in the second inning as the Dodgers scored three runs. Jamey Carroll had an RBI single and then LeBlanc hit Brad Ausmus with an 0-2 pitch that extended the inning.
Later in the inning, leadoff hitter Scott Podsednik blooped a two-out, two-run single to center field for a 3-0 lead.
"Sometimes you get away with some, some you don't," LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc, who has won once since June 12, also allowed a two-out RBI double to Ronnie Belliard in the third inning. The rest of the damage came against reliever Edward Mujica, who allowed five runs in the eighth inning.
Adding injury to insult was Padilla, who lined an RBI single up the middle in the inning, a precursor to a bullet of a home run that Andre Ethier hit, a two-run shot that made it 9-0.
"The game tonight was all about Padilla," Black said.
This series for the first-place Padres, who maintain a one-game lead over the Giants, has mostly been about the Dodgers, who, according to some, came into this series essentially on life support in the NL West.
A seven-game deficit in the West, after victories in each of the last two games, suddenly doesn't look quite so daunting.
"I don't think we're quite all the way out of it, but we knew what this series represented," said Ethier, who had three hits, including his 17th home run. "We definitely let some of our advantage and position in the standings slip away the last couple weeks, but it's not too late to go out there and find a way back into this thing."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.