LOS ANGELES (AP)—When the Dodgers traded for center fielder Milton Bradley on Sunday, it affected several players.
But they all came through Tuesday night in leading Los Angeles to its first victory of the season.
Adrian Beltre, angry at manager Jim Tracy after getting moved from third to seventh in the batting order without being told first, hit a tying, two-run homer to spark a 5-4 victory over the San Diego Padres.
Shawn Green, shifted from right field to first base, saved three runs with a defensive gem. Robin Ventura, who would have started semi-regularly at first had Green stayed in right, came off the bench to deliver a pinch-hit RBI single in the ninth.
“I came here to do what I’m doing right now,” Ventura said. “So when Trace told me on Sunday, I just said, `All right, whatever.’ I mean, that was the original plan. I was going to share it with other people, anyway, so it wasn’t just my spot. And now I’m back to what I was supposed to do.”
One night after receiving the NL Cy Young Award he earned for his perfect 55-save season, Eric Gagne got the victory with a hitless ninth inning. Bradley saved Gagne with a spectacular, over-the-shoulder catch on the run with both feet in the air, robbing Ramon Hernandez of extra bases.
“Of course I though he’d catch it. I saw him on the highlights before, so I know what he can do,” Gagne said. “He’s a great player and that’s why we got him. He can hit, he can play defense and he can run. It was a great catch. He saved the game right there.”
Padres reliever Akinori Otsuka, making his major league debut, gave up a one-out single to Beltre in the ninth. The right-hander then fielded a bunt single by Alex Cora and bounced his throw past first base, sending Beltre to third. Ventura batted for Gagne and grounded a 2-1 pitch to right field.
“I would have bet a lot of money that he was going to get it done there,” teammate Paul Lo Duca said. “He’s been there before and he knows how to get it done. Robin’s going to play a key role for us. He’s going to have a lot of big at-bats for us, and that’s why you have a guy like him.”
San Diego starter Jake Peavy allowed two runs, seven hits and no walks in 5 1-3 innings. He handed a 4-2 lead to the bullpen, but former Dodger Antonio Osuna gave up a leadoff single in the seventh to Lo Duca and a one-out homer to Beltre to pull the Dodgers even.
It was the 100th career homer for Beltre, who batted .305 in spring training and was psyched about having more responsibility to drive in runs from the No. 3 hole—until Bradley came to town.
“I just hope to hit well wherever I hit,” Beltre said. “I’m going to try to be the best No. 7 hitter in the league. I play for my teammates. They support me, so I go out and do my best. I’m just happy to play third base every day.”
The Padres, who jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first 4 1/2 innings of Monday’s season opener against Hideo Nomo, built a 4-0 cushion through three innings against Odalis Perez. The left-hander was charged with four runs, 10 hits and three walks in 5 2-3 innings.
Perez stranded a runner at second base in the first by striking out Brian Giles and Phil Nevin. But the Padres opened the second with singles by Jay Payton and Ryan Klesko, and Hernandez homered two pitches later for a 3-0 lead.
Mark Loretta doubled to start the third, and Nevin doubled one out later to drive in the Padres’ fourth run. It could have been worse for Perez, but Green made a diving, backhand stop of Khalil Green’s sharp, two-out grounder down the line to save at least two runs.
“Every time you get a tough play and you make it, it just adds to your confidence,” said Green, who started only one game at first base in the majors before Monday’s opener. “It felt good to be able to contribute like that on the field. Hopefully, it can be a good sign of things to come.”
The Padres left the bases loaded again in the fifth when Green popped out.
“We jumped on them early, but they quieted our bats down and got out of a couple of jams,” Klesko said. “We let them back into the game. That was a big hit by Beltre.”
Peavy took a three-hit shutout into the sixth, but he balked home DaveRoberts and gave up an RBI single to Bradley, cutting the lead to 4-2.
Peavy did not commit a balk in 32 starts last season, spanning 194 2-3 innings. His 12-11 record made him the only Padres starter with a winning record. … Hernandez, who spent his first five big league seasons with Oakland, was obtained on Nov. 26 in a trade after hitting a career-high 21homers last year with 78 RBIs. … Beltre had three hits and scored twice.