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Dodger's Power Buffers Bullpen Woes

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The Dodgers bats feasted early on the weakest link of the Giants starting rotation Todd Wellemeyer to cushion the daily bullpen meltdown in their 10-8 victory.

Andre Ethier hit two homers, the first one being the second half of a back-to-backer after Matt Kemp’s two-run shot that put the Dodgers up 3-0. Ethier’s second was his first career grand slam giving the Dodgers the 7-0 lead.

“We’re just doing our jobs man,” Kemp said of his and Ethier’s scorching production. “I’m not trying to go up there and hit home runs. I’m just trying to get good at-bats and get on base for [Ethier] and Manny - the big guys.”

“They have an idea what they are looking for and are prepared when they go up there,” Torre said of the approaches of Kemp and Ethier. “They’re prepared for pitchers from other teams, and they have an idea of what they are going to do.”

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Dodgers’ starter Vicente Padilla came out to atone for his last two starts going seven innings giving up three runs on 103 pitches.

“I thought Padilla was terrific starting off,” Torre said. “He had a lull in the middle.”

That middle was the fifth inning where Padilla led things off giving up consecutive singles to left fielder Mark DeRosa and catcher Bengie Molina. Second baseman Juan Uribe brought them both home with a single.

Third baseman Pablo Sandoval took Padilla’s first pitch in the sixth inning out over the left center field wall to bring the Giants’ deficit down to 9-3.

Unfazed Padilla got the next three batters out on ten pitches.

“Certainly a big lead helps as a starting pitcher,” Padilla said through translator Kenji Nimura. “I had better control than other games I pitched. My breaking balls were breaking.”

Padilla’s penchant for hitting batters made for a scary situation in the fifth inning when Aaron Rowand took an 87 mph sinkerball to the head. He suffered facial fractures and a mild concussion, however he was not knocked unconscious. Neither the Giants nor the umpires thought it was intentional with no shoves or warnings issued.

“I tried to throw inside really tight,” Padilla said. “It just stayed in.”

The Dodgers added a run in the seventh inning for what looked to be a very comfortable 10-3 lead and relieve everyone in the press box with a game that lasted under three hours. Just like that the serenity was yanked away in the ninth inning.

After retiring the side with two strikeouts in the eighth inning, Russ Ortiz was called upon to pitch the ninth inning to help rest the arms of the bullpen.

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First baseman Aubrey Huff singled and DeRosa doubled sending Huff to third. Ortiz got catcher Eli Whiteside, who came in as a defensive replacement for Molina in the sixth inning, to strike out and right fielder John Bowker to ground to third which allowed Huff to score.

Still with the score 10-4, all Ortiz needed was one out.

Uribe singled DeRosa home. 10-5.

Pinch hitter Travis Ishikawa walked, and that was enough for Torre who brought in Ramon Troncoso to get the final out.

That set the stage for center fielder Eugenio Velez who is listed at 6’1” and 169 pounds, though the 169 is a huge exaggeration. Velez, who hit a homer in his last game on Tuesday against Pittsburgh in San Francisco that almost landed in McCovey Cove, hit a three-run shot that landed in the middle of the Giants’ bullpen deep in right field. 10-8.

With the Dodger faithful uneasy, Troncoso made one pitch to shortstop Edgar Renteria - a comebacker that ended the game.

“We had a good inning from Russ Ortiz and a bad inning from Russ Ortiz in the ninth,” Torre said. “It’s about capitalizing, but we had enough breathing room to take it home.”

Ethier’s two home runs marked the ninth multi-homer game in his career. It was also the first time a Dodger hit two homers in a game this season. Also his five RBI was just one shy of his career high of six that he set on June 26 last season against Seattle. He’s hit safely in these four home games batting .429 with three homers and nine RBI.

Kemp’s homer marked his fourth consecutive game with a homer, his second such streak in his career. His last streak was from August 29 to September 1 last season. He is also the first player in Los Angeles Dodgers history to homer in each of his first four scheduled home games of the season.

Manny Ramirez left the game in the top of the fourth inning with tightness in his right calf.