Padilla takes no-hit bid into 7th, Dodgers beat SD
In fact, that’s how Dodgers Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully referred to Padilla’s junior folly floater on the air Wednesday night as the 32-year-old Nicaraguan right-hander had the NL West leaders completely baffled by it through 6 1-3 hitless innings.
Ryan Ludwick(notes) burst Padilla’s bubble with a one-out single, but he finished with his fourth career shutout in the Dodgers’ 9-0 rout of the Padres on Wednesday night. It put them within seven games of the Padres.
“It’s fun to watch it,” teammate Andre Ethier(notes) said of Padilla’s unorthodox pitch. “I like to see guys take a hack at it. I cringe sometimes when I see some guys foul off a good one. He knows what he’s doing and he’s been doing good with it all year.”
Padilla (5-3) started perfecting the pitch about three years ago when he was with the Texas Rangers. This season he’s using it more than ever, and the fans at Dodger Stadium are eating it up.
“I try to throw that pitch whenever they’re not looking for it,” Padilla said through a translator. “I was able to get those pitches in the strike zone and they were swinging at them. I think the fans were enjoying it more than I was.”
Pitching with an extra day’s rest because of Lilly’s insertion into the Dodgers’ rotation, Padilla limited the Padres to just two walks—one of them intentional—through the first six. He wound up with a two-hitter, striking out nine and retiring 14 straight batters at one stretch. He also got two hits himself, including an RBI single during a five-run eighth.
“I wanted to erase those hits they got off me,” he said with a grin.
First baseman James Loney(notes), who wasn’t in the Dodgers’ starting lineup because left-hander Wade LeBlanc(notes) was pitching for San Diego, came in for defensive measures in the seventh and replaced Ronnie Belliard(notes) to help preserve Padilla’s bid to become the sixth pitcher to throw a no-hitter this season. But Ludwick lined his 82nd pitch of the game just off the tip of Loney’s glove on an 0-2 count, and Chase Headley(notes) followed with another single.
“It was a high pitch and (Ludwick) hit a line drive, so you can’t really do anything about it,” Padilla said.
Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt same out to give Padilla a chance to collect himself, and he came back and retired Yorvit Torrealba(notes) on an inning-ending double-play grounder. He then set down the Padres in order over the final two innings to record his fourth complete game in 234 career starts.
“Padilla pitched really well and he battled,” Torrealba said. “He kept the ball down. He was pounding the strike zone down and away to righties, and got a ground ball whenever he needed one. He was throwing that slow breaking ball that kept you off-balance big-time. I mean, you’re expecting a low-90s fastball with break to it, not a 53-mile-an-hour breaking ball.”
Padilla, the Dodgers’ opening day starter, spent more than two months on the disabled list because of elbow soreness. In nine starts since his return, he is 4-2 with 1.80 ERA.
“He’s been great. The thing about him is that he’s been so aggressive, going after the hitters. And his stuff had been quality,” manager Joe Torre said. “He’s very proud of his stuff. He wanted to go out there in that last inning, which was great for us.”
LeBlanc (5-10) gave up four runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings and struck out six. The Padres also were shut out in his other start against the Dodgers this season.
“He was outstanding. I’m really happy about the way he pitched,” Torrealba said. “They had only a few hits off him where they really hit the ball hard. Every other hit was like a bloop single. Everything was working for them tonight.”
Torre was forced to start another patchwork lineup because of injuries to catcher Russell Martin(notes), shortstop Rafael Furcal(notes) and left fielder Manny Ramirez(notes)— whose return remains in question because of another calf strain that has sidelined him since July 17 and delayed his minor league rehab assignment at least another week.
Shortly before gametime, Martin was placed on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in five big league seasons because of a tear in his right hip.
“The fact that he’s going to be on crutches for a while, certainly you know we’re in it for the long haul. It’s far beyond the two-week disabled list at this point in time,” Torre said. “The most important thing is not necessarily getting him back, but that he gets better. We’re really not looking for him to get back and help us any time soon.”
Podsednik hit a two-run single in the second after a sacrifice by Padilla.
NOTES: Torrealba was 0 for 3, ending his hitting streak at 15 games, one short of his career best. … The Dodgers recalled C A.J. Ellis(notes) from Triple-A Albuquerque, and optioned OF Xavier Paul(notes) to their Pacific Coast League club. INF-OF Reed Johnson(notes) was activated from the DL after missing 19 games with a lumbar strain. … Torre expects Furcal’s back strain to keep him on the bench for the rest of this homestand, which concludes with a three-game set against Washington. “Hopefully by the time we go the road, he’ll be a player for us,” Torre said. “I don’t want to lose him for two weeks (on the DL) unless it’s the safest thing to do. And at this point, it’s worth waiting a few days just to see if it gets better.”