LOS ANGELES (AP)—Jake Peavy and Brad Penny both had extra incentive when they went to the mound to face each other. First place in the NL West was at stake, and so was the starting assignment at the All-Star game.
Peavy and Penny pitched to a seven-inning stalemate, Jose Cruz Jr. and pinch-hitter Geoff Blum hit RBI doubles in the 12th, and the San Diego Padres beat Los Angeles 3-1 Saturday night to take a two-game lead on the Dodgers.
“I was fired up to watch it,” said Padres pitcher Greg Maddux, who has been in a good number of these marquee matchups himself. “I made sure I was out there before the first pitch. It was cool. I enjoyed it. It was one of those games where you’re trying to win for your team, but the All-Star game, the Cy Young and all that stuff’s going into it as well.
“They both throw extremely hard, they both have good control and they both got off to great starts. Hopefully our guy will have just as good a second half.”
Penny and Peavy own the league’s two lowest ERAs among pitchers who have enough innings to qualify. The starting pitcher for the July 10 All-Star game at San Francisco will be announced on Sunday, along with the rest of manager Tony La Russa’s NL squad.
“I really hadn’t given that any thought,” Peavy said. “If it happens, it happens. I guess tomorrow we’ll find out. It’ll be an honor, and whatever way Tony goes, you can’t blame the guy.”
Padres rookie manager Bud Black wouldn’t mind being in La Russa’s shoes next year when it’s time to help add names to the All-Star team and pick the starting pitcher. But the Padres would have to win the pennant for that to happen. This time, he doesn’t have that luxury.
“I’m glad I don’t have to choose between them—but I know who I would pick,” Black said with a laugh. “Both guys had good stuff and good command tonight. They both dialed it up a notch when they were in peril. I think tonight showed why those two guys are two of the best pitchers in the National League.”
Peavy allowed a run and five hits while reducing his ERA to 2.09, just nine points behind Penny’s. The Padres’ right-hander struck out six, walked one and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh by striking out pinch-hitter Olmedo Saenz.
“That was fun,” said Peavy, whose homerless streak of 84 1-3 innings ended when Nomar Garciaparra took him deep in the fifth to tie the game. “I guess it was all it was cracked up to be. It seems like whenever I hit the Dodgers, me and Penny have gone at it. I respect the heck out of Brad and I’ve been around him a lot. I like to see him do well—just not against us.”
Penny also gave up a run and five hits before Saenz was sent up to bat for him with the score still 1-1. The right-hander struck out seven and walked two.
“It was a tough game. It was a great game. It was fun to be a part of,” Penny said.
Khalil Greene greeted Brett Tomko (1-6) with a leadoff single in the 12th and Kevin Kouzmanoff sacrificed him to second. Cruz followed with a sinking liner to the alley that left fielder Andre Ethier trapped on a sliding attempt as Greene scored the go-ahead run. Blum then doubled inside first base to score the final run.
The victory put San Diego 1 1/2 games ahead of second-place Arizona. The Padres have beaten the third-place Dodgers five straight times since losing a 17-inning affair to them on April 29 at San Diego.
“Extra innings are not fun, so I’m glad we were able to score those two runs there,” said Cruz, a former Dodger. “It could have been a super marathon and then have a day game tomorrow. Every inning after the ninth just gets more and more on your nerves.”
Royce Ring (1-0) pitched one-third of an inning for his first major league victory, and Trevor Hoffman got three outs for his 23rd save in 25 attempts. The all-time saves leader wanted to make sure Peavy’s latest outing didn’t go to waste.
“It lived up to the billing,” said Hoffman, who hasn’t allowed an earned run in 23 1-3 innings spanning his last 24 appearances. “Peave and Penny went after each other with a lot of moxie and aggressiveness and both got out of some tough jams to keep their teams in it. They pitches their tails off and handed it off to the bullpens.”
Josh Bard opened the scoring with an RBI double. Garciaparra pulled the Dodgers even with one out in the fifth after Peavy retired 13 of his first 14 batters.
It was only the second home run allowed this season by Peavy and the first since April 19 at Arizona, when Chris Young hit a solo shot off him. Last season, Peavy gave up 23 homers in 202 1-3 innings.
Penny pitched in his first All-Star game last year and got the starting nod, striking out his first three batters—Ichiro Suzuki, Derek Jeter and David Ortiz. Peavy was an All-Star in 2005, the year he led the NL in strikeouts. … Black turned 50 years old Saturday. … The Padres, who won 7-6 Friday night, have now won seven consecutive road series.