When Gonzalez hit a bloop one-out single that fell in just in front of Kemp, Gwynn took off for home, sparking the NL West-leading San Diego Padres to a 6-1 win over the rival Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.
The Padres beat the Dodgers for the first time in five games at Petco Park this season and for the second time in seven games overall. The Dodgers and Padres are in the midst of playing each other seven times in 10 days. LA is in third place, six games behind San Diego.
The big play, though, was by Gwynn in the sixth inning, when the Padres trailed 1-0. Pinch-hitting for Clayton Richard(notes), Gwynn started San Diego’s go-ahead, two-run rally with a leadoff infield single. He stole second with one out before Chris Denorfia(notes) walked.
Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda(notes) stepped off the rubber several times during Gonzalez’s at-bat, giving Gwynn plenty of chances to check out Kemp’s depth. When Gonzalez hit a bloop single, Gwynn read it perfectly and took off. The ball fell in front of Kemp.
“It’s a calculated risk, but it’s a smart one,” Gwynn said. “That’s why they have you check the outfielders because of situations like that. On a ball that can fall in, you give yourself a good chance to score. That’s exactly how it played out.
“I’m sure it played into it the fact we’ve been struggling against these guys and we really wanted to get a victory tonight to give ourselves a chance to win the series tomorrow. In that particular situation I decided to trust my instincts and it worked out well,” Gwynn said.
“Great read,” manager Bud Black said. “Big play. If he doesn’t read that, it’s bases loaded, and you don’t know how it’s going to play out from there. Great instinctual read that got us into position to tie the game.”
Kuroda (8-9) had retired 10 straight batters going into the sixth inning.
Before that inning, LA starters had allowed just one earned run in 48 innings, including shutouts in four of their previous six games. The Dodgers won the series opener 2-0 on Tuesday night.
“You have to give credit to the opposing pitcher,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “It’s not easy to hold the ballclub down. I don’t care if the club’s in a slump. You still have to pitch well.
“Unfortunately, when you are not scoring a lot of runs, you’re putting a great deal of stress on the pitching,” Torre said. “Every single pitch you make is crucial.”
San Diego added two more runs in the seventh, chasing Kuroda in the process. Jerry Hairston Jr.’s two-out double scored younger brother Scott, who hit a leadoff single and advanced on Everth Cabrera’s(notes) sacrifice. Denorfia then singled in Hairston Jr.
Hairston Jr. hit a two-run single with two outs in the eighth.
Richard allowed one run and four hits in six innings, struck out six and walked one.
Kuroda went six-plus, allowing three runs and four hits, striking out five and walking two.
Dodgers leadoff batter Rafael Furcal(notes) went 0 for 3 with a walk to drop to third in the NL with a .318 average behind Cincinnati’s Joey Votto(notes) (.322) and Atlanta’s Martin Prado(notes) (.319).
“Right now we’re all struggling,” Furcal said. “But it’s my job to get on and get us going, and I’m not doing that right now. I have to find a way.”
NOTES: RF Andre Ethier(notes) was back in the lineup for the Dodgers a day after a stomach bug limited him to pinch-hitting duty. He hit a two-run single Tuesday night. … At 13-8, the Padres clinched their sixth straight winning month. The New York Yankees are the only other team to do so. … San Diego has won eight of 11 since the All-Star break.