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Furcal and Ethier Knock out Latos and Padres

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After losing their last six against the San Diego Padres, the last thing anyone expected was for the Dodgers to win. But they did play spoiler knocking Padres wunderkind starter Mat Latos (L, 14-8) out of the game before he could record an out in the sixth inning with a 3-1 victory. Combined with the San Francisco Giants’ 13-0 win over the Chicago Cubs, the Padres now are a ½ game behind the Giants in the NL West.

“We got excited, at least I did, to go out there and beat a club that’s in first place,” manager Joe Torre said. “We can’t be there, so you hope you can affect the race some way. At least we’re trying to do our job, and we did it tonight.”

It really did seem like an unnatural outcome judging by the tenor of the last two games of the series. In fact once the Padres scored the first run on Miguel Tejada’s grounder that brought home Will Venable at 7:19 pm, eight minutes into the game, I tweeted that it was the shortest amount of time that the Dodgers had lost a game.

“I was really inconsistent with my control in the first inning,” starter Hiroki Kuroda said through translator Kenji Nimura. “I was trying to locate my pitches on the corners. I was too careful, and that’s why I got behind in the count.”

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But then the unthinkable happened. After Rafael Furcal led off the bottom of the first inning with a single, Andre Ethier drove him home with a double to tie the game.

The duo worked their magic again in the third inning. Furcal singled and stole second when Ryan Theriot struck out swinging. This time all Ethier had to do was stroke a single to bring home Furcal for the 2-1 lead.

“He left a few balls up that normally he didn’t leave up the other times we faced him,” Ethier said. “We just happened to capitalize on it.”

For Latos it was his third consecutive stinker after setting a Major League record of 15 consecutive starts allowing two runs or less with a minimum of five innings pitched. Latos was finally given the hook after he led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a walk to Ethier and a double to Jay Gibbons.

Reliever Ernesto Frieri came in, struck out Matt Kemp, intentionally walked James Loney to load the bases and got Casey Blake to pop up in foul territory setting the stage for Rod Barajas.

The 33,040 fans got the Stadium the loudest it’s been in over a month going fever pitch as Barajas worked a full count after getting behind 0-and-2.

“I was looking for a fastball and wanted to be aggressive and hope that he’d leave one over the plate,” Barajas said about getting behind in the count. “It wasn’t what I was expected.”

And proving how scarce runs have been to come by, the crowd nearly erupted in a titanic seismic explosion when Barajas walked bringing home Ethier.

“Once I got in that spot, I just tried to shorten everything up,” Barajas continued. “Doing that I was able to see the ball a little better. I’m a guy that doesn’t walk very often, but for some reason I was able to slow the game down a little bit and work a pretty good at bat.”

Dodgers’ starter Hiroki Kuroda (W, 11-13) despite that shaky first inning was lights out the rest of the way going eight innings making only 98 pitches retiring 14 of the last 15 batters he faced.

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“He threw a lot of pitches in that first inning,” Torre remarked. “Yet his pitch count tonight was very economical. He was dominant tonight. It was great to watch.”


LA Dodgers (74-79) at Arizona Diamondbacks (62-91). Clayton Kershaw (12-10, 2.98 ERA) vs. Barry Enright (6-5, 3.87 ERA). 6:40 pm KCAL9, AM 790 KABC.

Chicago White Sox (80-72) at LA Angels (75-77). Freddy Garcia (11-6, 4.88 ERA) vs. Joel Pineiro (10-7, 4.13 ERA). 7:05 pm FSWest, AM 830 KLAA.

New York Red Bulls (41 pts., 12-8-5) at LA Galaxy (50 pts., 15-5-5). ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, AM 1150 KTLK, AM 1330 KTKT (en español).