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Dodgers Power Past Cubs

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Behind starter Vicente Padilla’s sterling eight innings of work and the offense jumping on Chicago Cubs’ starter Carlos Silva, the Dodgers finished out the last game before the All Star Break with an exclamation point shutting out the Cubs 7-0.

Vicente Padilla (4-2) had a no-hitter going through the first five innings, the only blemish a lead-off walk to Aramis Ramirez to lead off the second inning which was erased on a double play ball hit by Xavier Nady. It was only when Starlin Castro doubled to lead off the sixth inning that Padilla realized he had been tossing a no-no.

“I gave up a hit and looked up at the scoreboard and realized it was the first hit,” Padilla said through translator Kenji Nimura.

When asked to attribute his turnaround the last several games, Padilla answered, “Luck.”

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Dodgers’ manager Joe Torre was very pleased with Padilla’s outing but held his breath.

“You keep your fingers crossed,” Torre said. “The game this year in the first half where he probably threw the best was the game after which he come out and said his arm was bothering him.”

As for Cubs’ starter Carlos Silva after starting the season 8-0, the Cubs’ offense gave him no run support giving him a 1-2 record in his last five starts. In this game, the Dodgers offense emphatically ensured he had no excuses.

James Loney was the first to make a statement with a three-run homer on the first pitch he saw from Silva after Rafael Furcal led off with a double that bounced off the Cubs’ bullpen in right field and Matt Kemp walked.

“I was looking for something up, something I could drive,” Loney said. “I got a pretty good one to drive.”

In the second inning with first base becoming the “hot” corner for the night, it was first base umpire Brian Runge’s turn to get to Silva.

After Blake DeWitt led off with a double, Vicente Padilla laid down a bunt that hugged the first baseline. First baseman Xavier Nady waited patiently for the ball to dribble foul. However the ball had other plans, and as Padilla hustled down the line Nady picked the ball up and to his horror missed the tag on Padilla.

Furcal walked, Kemp hit a sacrifice fly scoring DeWitt for the 4-1 lead advancing the runners to second and third.

Silva intentionally walked Ethier to get to Loney. This time instead of a homer, Loney scalded the ball down the first baseline which was smothered by Nady. As Silva hesitated on the mound, it was a footrace between Nady and Loney with Runge calling Loney the winner. Silva’s displeasure was so obvious Runge tossed him ending his worst outing of the season and the shortest since he pitched one inning and gave up four runs to the Cleveland Indians on September 11, 2005 while with the Minnesota Twins.

Reliever Mitch Atkins came in to pick up the pieces and gave up a bases loaded walk to Xavier Paul before getting Russell Martin to ground out to end the inning. After all was said and done, six Dodgers had crossed the plate all charged to Silva.

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The other close play at first occurred in the eighth inning when Castro hit a come-backer to Padilla. Padilla’s throw to Loney at first base was high, but Loney managed to get Castro out just in time much to the chagrin of the Cubs’ dugout.

“There’s a lot going on over there today,” Loney chuckled. “I heard there was some rumblings.”

There were some more rumblings in the seventh inning when Padilla hit Marlon Byrd with a pitch. Byrd smirked and slowly walked to first.

“I played with him for three years in Texas, and I don’t know why he reacted that way,” Padilla said.

Cubs’ reliever Andrew Cashner retaliated hitting DeWitt in the bottom of the eighth drawing a warning to both benches from home plate umpire Jerry Layne. Torre was certain it was intentional.

“A guy who didn’t throw as hard was throwing in the bullpen, and they changed to a guy who was throwing hard,” Torre said. “Pretty good indication that that was going to be the case.”

The Dodgers added a run in the fourth inning when with the bases loaded Xavier Paul grounded into a double play which scored Ethier for the 7-0 lead.