Still, the Dodgers left-hander who got the 100th win of his career Saturday night when Los Angeles beat the San Diego Padres 7-4, is also the first pitcher in the majors to record 30 starts this season.
And that number is as satisfying as any for him and manager Joe Torre, thanks to the Dodgers’ ever-changing rotation this season.
“I appreciate the fact that when we’ve had off days that Joe lets me go on my fifth day, because I want to be out there as much as possible,” Wolf said. “Those days you pitch are pretty much the only chance you have to help the team because you watch four games in between starts. So for me to get out there as much as possible is always good.”
Wolf (10-6) allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings, striking out five with no walks. The 33-year-old left-hander, whose season has included 14 no-decisions, retired his final 13 batters after giving up a two-out RBI single by Adrian Gonzalez(notes) in the third.
Wolf is 5-0 with a 2.09 ERA over his last five outings. This was the 18th time he has allowed fewer than three earned runs, but is only 9-1 in those games because the bullpen squandered the lead in eight of his no-decisions.
“You can’t worry about that kind of stuff. You’ve got to move on and keep on grinding,” said Wolf, who had a bottle of Champagne waiting for him at his locker following the milestone win. “I don’t feel like I’m pitching that much differently than I was early in the year. The difference now is that we’re playing better on the days I’ve pitched.”
Leading 7-2 going to the ninth, the Dodgers tried to get away with using rookie James McDonald(notes) to wrap it up. But the right-hander gave up three singles without recording an out. Pinch-hitter Edgar Gonzalez greeted closer Jonathan Broxton(notes) with an RBI single to right, and another run scored as the ball skipped past Ethier for an error.
Tony Gwynn(notes) Jr., representing the tying run, struck out against Broxton with runners at second and third. The first-time All-Star then struck out pinch-hitter Will Venable(notes) and retired Everth Cabrera(notes) on a grounder to shortstop for his 32nd save in 37 attempts.
San Diego rookie Mat Latos(notes) (4-5) threw 80 pitches over three innings, allowing four runs—two earned—and three hits. He walked five and struck out four—including Wolf twice. The second time he did, it got Latos out of a bases-loaded jam.
The start was the 21-year-old right-hander’s 10th in the big leagues and his final one of this season.
“That’s fine with me. I’m surprised that they’ve kept me going this long, and I’m grateful that they did,” Latos said. “It’s given me more opportunities to impress them.”
The Padres, last in the NL West and 21 games behind the Dodgers, had considered shutting Latos down after last Sunday’s outing in Florida because he had pitched 120 innings this season. But manager Bud Black convinced general manager Kevin Towers to squeeze one more start out of Latos, and the plan backfired.
The first pitcher in the Padres’ 41-year history to win four of his first five big league starts, Latos is 0-4 with a 7.71 ERA in his last five.
“Mat will continue to be with the club,” Black said. “This season was a learning experience. He showed flashed of tremendous pitching, and he also showed that he needs to improve his game.”
Latos committed two balks and issued two walks in the second inning—but no hits—as the Dodgers scored a pair of unearned runs to extend their lead to 4-1. Cabrera booted a sharp hit to shortstop by Juan Pierre(notes) and had to retrieve it in short left field as Russell Martin(notes) came around to score, and Cabrera’s ensuing throw to the plate got past Nick Hundley(notes)—allowing Rafael Furcal(notes) to come home.
Cabrera made his third error of the game in the fourth on Matt Kemp’s(notes) routine grounder after Martin made it 5-2 with a two-out solo homer to center field against Edward Mujica(notes). Kemp stole second and scored the Dodgers’ sixth run on Loney’s single. Ethier added an RBI double in the sixth.
NOTES: Jim Thome(notes) pinch-hit for Wolf and struck out for the 2,307th time in his career, breaking a tie with Sammy Sosa(notes) for second place on the career list. Reggie Jackson tops that list with 2,597. … Martin’s 59th career stolen base tied Johnny Roseboro’s franchise record for Dodgers catchers. … Twenty of Ethier’s 28 home runs have come with the bases empty. Since the start of last season, 34 of his 48 homers have been solo shots. … Kemp reached 30 steals for the second straight season after getting 35 last year. … Manny Ramirez(notes), in a 2 for 14 rut and batting .239 over his last 20 games, got the night off and 3B Casey Blake(notes) did not play because of tightness in his hamstring.