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Padres hand Dodgers fourth straight loss

The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers looked to shake things up for their snoozing lineup Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.

The pitching staff already had awakened the San Diego Padres.

But San Diego kept up the energy, the Matt Kemp-less Dodgers slogged through yet another poor offensive performance, and even Clayton Kershaw could not stem the tide for lifeless Los Angeles.

The Padres tagged Kershaw for three home runs and dealt the Dodgers their fourth consecutive loss, 7-2.

Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly shuffled the lineup to try to resuscitate an offense that has gone ice cold recently, hoping to give Kershaw some more run support.

Out went Matt Kemp, slumping with a .185 average and zero home runs. In came Skip Schumaker to center field and the No. 6 hole, and up went Andre Ethier to the No. 3 spot.

It didn't help. Kershaw would have needed a whole lot more than he got.

The Dodgers' star was roughed up for the first time this season, dampening the night he became the second-youngest Dodger pitcher to break the 1,000-strikeout plateau.

Kershaw, who opened the 2013 season with 16 straight scoreless innings, took his second straight loss as he allowed five runs, three earned, and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.

"We took advantage of a couple mistakes today," said Chris Denorfia, who homered off Kershaw in the fifth inning. "Against him, you might not get that many. For us to do that was big. We put together some great at-bats, but as always, he's a tough guy to face. We really just took advantage of a couple mistakes."

With Chase Headley in the lineup for the first time this year after a fractured thumb cost him a month, the Padres (5-10) continued their offensive awakening. San Diego rang up the Dodgers (7-8) for 22 runs in the three-game sweep after scoring just 32 runs in its first 12 games.

"When a bunch of guys are hitting, I think the other hitters relax," San Diego manager Bud Black said. "When you're not hitting, guys have the tendency to think, 'I gotta get on base, I gotta do more.' But when the group is hitting, there's a little pressure off everybody. When you're scuffling, you want to be the one to turn it around for your club."

Seven runs were more than enough support for Tyson Ross and Co., who scattered 10 hits. Ross went 4 2/3 innings and allowed six hits and one earned run. Brad Brach picked up the win after throwing 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.

"Last year, I struggled with lefties, so I figured they'd stack the lineup with lefties against me to force me to get them out," Ross said. "I wasn't thinking they were coming in not at 100 percent -- they've got plenty of talent on that side, a lot of good players."

Added Ethier: "We've got to have the frame of mind we won't be beat. We have to figure out a way to do it. I can't point fingers to anyone but myself. We've got to come up big when we get the chance to do it. Not just tonight. All these hits, and if we would've just had that extra hit that inning or in that situation -- not had a guy ground out or pop up -- we end up with a couple runs."

By the time Kyle Blanks blasted a home run to deep left field with one out in the top of the sixth inning, the Dodgers had long discovered Kershaw was in subpar form.

San Diego pounced on Kershaw in the top of the fourth inning after Adrian Gonzalez staked Los Angeles to a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly in the third inning.

Everth Cabrera hit the first of three home runs off Kershaw, Jedd Gyorko grounded into a double play that scored Headley, and Blanks singled to score Jesus Guzman.

"It is contagious," Denorfia said. "This is how we finished last year, when everyone was talking about how well we finished. Same guys, doing what we were doing last year. We got off to a slow start, but I think we're starting to see really who we're going to be."

Meanwhile, despite all the tinkering, the Dodger lineup is as lost as it has ever been.

"It's that elusive hit," Adrian Gonzalez said. "We're grinding. We win four in a row, we're 11-8. It's four games, four games when we really didn't do anything right. But at the end of the day, it's four days."

NOTES: The Padres swept a three-game series against the Dodgers for the first time since September 2010. San Diego's five-game winning streak at Dodger Stadium dating to last season is its longest such streak since 2006. ... Los Angeles won two of three games in San Diego in the teams' first series of the season last week. The Dodgers closed the series with back-to-back one-run wins after dropping the opener 9-3. ... Headley was a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner in 2012, and he finished fifth in National League MVP voting. ... The Padres placed Cameron Maybin (wrist) on the 15-day disabled list to make room for Headley. ... Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford led the National League with 20 hits entering the game. ... Kershaw's 1,000th strikeout came 29 days after his 25th birthday. Fernando Valenzuela hit the mark at 24 years, 303 days.
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