Dodgers 3, Padres 1, 10 innings

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SAN DIEGO (AP)—Make it eight straight victories for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who found another dramatic way to win a game.

Jose Valentin hit a two-run triple with two outs in the 10th inning and the Dodgers matched their best start in 50 years with a 3-1 win over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night.

The Dodgers, who have the best record in the majors at 12-2, equaled the best start in franchise history. The 1940 and ’55 Dodgers, then based in Brooklyn, also opened 12-2.

“It’s something that you never feel like you are going to lose a game,” Valentin said. “Our confidence is so big right now that we feel sooner or later, our time is going to come. It’s just a matter of time that you get some guys on base and get a clutch hit.”

Valentin was hitless in his previous eight at-bats over three games before tripling to the base of the wall in right-center field on a 1-1 pitch from Scott Linebrink. He was looking for a changeup and got one that stayed up over the plate.

“It really came down to the first team that made a mistake,” Padres manager Bruce Bochy said.

The Dodgers started their winning rally with one out when J.D. Drew beat out a weak grounder to Linebrink (0-1) for an infield single. Linebrink bobbled the ball and then threw it past first baseman Phil Nevin for an error that allowed Drew to take second. It was Drew’s fourth hit. The official scorer originally charged Linebrink with two errors, but changed the first error to a hit after the game.

Appearing rattled, Linebrink then fell behind 3-0 to Jeff Kent before walking him on a full-count pitch.

Duaner Sanchez (1-1) pitched one inning for the win. Yhency Brazoban pitched the 10th for his fourth save.

On Tuesday, after trailing 6-0, the Dodgers beat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-6 on Milton Bradley’s two-run homer in the 10th.

The Padres, who wore camouflage uniforms to honor the area’s large military population, have lost four straight to the defending NL West champion Dodgers, including an embarrassing three-game weekend sweep at Dodger Stadium, when they were outscored 18-3.

Both starters pitched well. The Dodgers’ Derek Lowe went eight innings, allowing an unearned run, walking four and striking out three. He beat the Padres 4-0 on a three-hitter on Friday night.

“Outstanding,” Lowe said of his new team’s winning streak. “We’ve been saying all year we want to get off to a good start, and 12-2 is a really good start. But if you ask anyone in here, nobody’s doing cartwheels. We expected to get off to a good start. This isn’t shocking us.”

San Diego’s Woody Williams, who lost to Lowe on Friday, held the Dodgers to six hits while striking out four and walking three.

San Diego went ahead 1-0 in the first on an unearned run. A throwing error by Valentin, the third baseman, allowed Mark Loretta to reach with one out. Loretta stole second, and, after Brian Giles struck out, scored on Phil Nevin’s single to left-center.

Drew tied the game at 1 with a solo homer with one out in the eighth off reliever Akinori Otsuka. It was Drew’s second.

There were several great inning-ending defensive plays by both teams. Los Angeles’ Jason Phillips was thrown out at home to end a second-inning threat, when the Dodgers had three singles but didn’t score.

Phillips was thrown out trying to score from second on Cesar Izturis’ single to right, but it took some doing by Ramon Hernandez. The catcher blocked the plate and caught right-fielder Brian Giles’ one-hop throw but missed Phillips, who slid wide to avoid the tag. Phillips, by then down on all fours, tried to scramble to the plate, but Hernandez wheeled around and tagged him.

With two men on and two outs in the seventh, San Diego’s Geoff Blum hit a long drive down the right-field line that went foul. He then flied out on a line shot to center.

“I couldn’t believe the one I hit curved foul,” Blum said. “Off the bat, it looked about 30 or 40 feet fair and then it just curved off to the right. But that’s how it goes sometimes.”

Bradley extended his hitting streak to eight games with a sixth-inning single and Phillips extended his hitting streak to seven with a second-inning single.

Notes

Dodgers RHP Brad Penny is scheduled to be activated from the 15-day disabled list in time to start Sunday at Colorado, providing the weather’s not too cold. He’s been sidelined by a nerve injury in his right biceps from last year. … Padres CF Dave Roberts sat out as a precaution against reinjuring his groin. He was rested after playing five straight games, including three rehab starts at Class A Lake Elsinore before starting against San Francisco on Monday and Tuesday nights.

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