Dodgers 2, Padres 1, 12 innings
Ventura connected for a pinch-hit homer in the 12th inning to give the Dodgers a 2-1 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.
The victory capped a tumultuous weekend for Los Angeles, which made four trades leading up to baseball’s non-waiver deadline. The Dodgers sent clubhouse leader Paul Lo Duca to Florida as part of a six-player deal with the Marlins, and acquired pitcher Brad Penny and center fielder Steve Finley.
“After all that’s happened this weekend, this was an important win for us,” Ventura said.
Los Angeles took two of three from San Diego, extending its NL West lead over the Padres to 3 1/2 games. The Dodgers have won 15 of 20 overall.
“It was just a terrific game to win, especially considering who we were playing,” Los Angeles manager Jim Tracy said.
After the Dodgers dealt some popular players, there were questions about team chemistry. For one day, Ventura thought the game took care of all that.
“Right now, it’s fine in here after a win like this,” Ventura said. “It’s obviously going to take a little while to kind of get the mood of this team. We’ll find out more when we get home.”
Finley went 2-for-5 with a double and a run in his Dodgers debut after being acquired moments before the trade deadline Saturday in a five-player deal with Arizona. Finley started in center field, with Milton Bradley moving to right.
Eric Gagne (4-0) pitched three scoreless innings for the win. It was the first time he pitched more than two innings since he became the team’s closer in 2002. Gagne allowed two hits, struck out two and walked one.
“It seemed like we did whatever we had to to win that game,” Gagne said. “The way the game went, it had the feel of a big game.”
Darren Dreifort got three outs for his first save since Sept. 15, 1997, at Colorado. It was the fourth save this season by a Los Angeles pitcher other than Gagne.
Khalil Greene flied out to the left-field warning track with a runner on to end it.
Ventura hit a 1-0 pitch from Ricky Stone (1-2) over the right-center fence with two outs in the 12th. It was Ventura’s second pinch-hit homer this season. He also had a two-run shot July 17 at Arizona.
“It was a really good changeup, but he got it in the wrong spot,” Ventura said. “I just got fortunate.”
San Diego lost for only the third time at home in 19 one-run games.
“The last two games were like playoff games,” Bradley said. “I wouldn’t change anything. Despite everything, we still got the `W.’ It would have been a long drive back to LA if we lost.”
Phil Nevin, who got the go-ahead hit in San Diego’s 3-2 win Saturday night, said the loss was tough to take.
“There are a lot of games left,” Nevin said. “People talk about trading Lo Duca, but games like that can bring teams together. Whether that happens remains to be seen. They are very good and we feel we’re better.”
The Dodgers tied the score 1-all on Shawn Green’s RBI single off reliever Scott Linebrink in the sixth. One-out singles by Finley and Bradley knocked David Wells from the game. Linebrink came in and struck out Adrian Beltre before Green grounded a single up the middle to score Finley.
Nevin put the Padres ahead 1-0 in the fourth with a one-out single to left that scored Mark Loretta, who singled leading off the inning and was sacrificed to second.
Bradley’s baserunning mistake ran the Dodgers out of a scoring chance in the first. Bradley walked after Finley’s one-out double. Beltre then hit a long fly ball to the warning track in center field. As Jay Payton made the catch, Bradley was running hard around second base toward third and almost passed Finley. Payton easily doubled Finley off second base to end the inning.
Both starters pitched well. Odalis Perez allowed one run and four hits in six innings for the Dodgers. Wells lasted 5 1-3 innings, allowing one run and five hits with four strikeouts and one walk.
The last time Gagne pitched more than two innings was Sept. 9, 2001, at St. Louis (2 1-3 innings). … Finley was booed when he came to the plate in the first inning. The Padres made a strong push to trade for Finley, a popular player when he played in San Diego from 1995-98. … Los Angeles is 7-1 in extra-inning games. … The crowd of 44,056 was the largest in Petco Park’s first season, surpassing Saturday night’s total of 43,726.