A home sweep of the lowly San Diego Padres during Los Angeles’ current winning streak helped propel the Dodgers into first place in the NL West.
The surging Dodgers look to extend that streak to nine in a row as they open a 10-game road trip starting Monday night against the Padres.
After taking over first place in the West with a 7-2 win over former leader Arizona on Saturday, Los Angeles (73-70) increased its lead to 1 1/2 games with a 5-3 victory Sunday to conclude a three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks while matching a season high with eight straight wins after losing eight in a row.
“We’re excited, but we’ve just got to continue,” Los Angeles’ Nomar Garciaparra said. “There’s no time to let up and start patting ourselves on the back. We’ve got a long way to go.”
The Dodgers, who haven’t won nine straight since winning 11 in a row from July 28-Aug. 8, 2006, play their final 19 games against teams with losing records, including six versus San Diego (55-88), which owns the worst mark in the majors.
Los Angeles swept a three-game set from the Padres last week and lead 7-5 in the season series.
“If you win your share of games, you’re going to finish in first place,” Los Angeles manager Joe Torre said. “And if you don’t win, it’s nobody’s fault but your own.”
On Sunday, James Loney drove in three runs, while Manny Ramirez and Andre Ethier each had two hits for the Dodgers, who have outscored their opponents 52-18 during the streak. Ramirez is batting .410 with 11 homers and 34 RBIs in 35 games since coming over from Boston.
Either, meanwhile, is 15-for-25 with four doubles, three homers and a triple with 10 RBIs over his last seven games. He is hitting .341 (14-for-41) with three home runs and eight RBIs against San Diego this season.
Los Angeles’ Greg Maddux (7-11, 4.18 ERA) makes his second consecutive start against his former team. Maddux, who is 1-2 with a 5.94 ERA in three starts since being traded back to the Dodgers from the Padres, allowed two runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 5-2 victory over them last Monday.
“Watching him pitch, I’ve admired what he’s done,” Torre said of the 42-year-old Maddux, who is tied for eighth place on the career list with 354 victories. “He has never been overpowering, but he’s always managed to keep the game at a manageable speed for himself.”
The right-hander, who is 25-15 with a 3.00 ERA in 45 starts against the Padres, faces a San Diego club which produced a double-digit run total for just the fifth time this season in a 10-1 win at Milwaukee on Sunday.
Chase Headley and Kevin Kouzmanoff each homered while Adrian Gonzalez drove in two runs for the Padres, who split the four-game set with the Brewers thanks to Sunday starter Chris Young, who flirted with a perfect game after retiring the first 23 Brewers in order.
“It would have been a great moment for the club,” manager Bud Black said. “It would have been a bright spot in a season that hasn’t gone out way.”
Padres starter Cha Seung Baek (4-9, 5.34) looks for a better outing than his last which came in his only appearance against the Dodgers on Tuesday. The right-hander allowed seven runs and eight hits in 3 2-3 innings of an 8-4 loss in that contest to drop to 0-4 with a 6.35 ERA in his last five starts overall.