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Lilly, Dodgers Defeat Padres 2-1

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Perhaps it’s the first wave of a solar storm that hit the Earth today that righted the nature of the NL West. Whatever it was the Dodgers will take it any way they can as they beat the San Diego Padres 2-1 and broke their six-game losing streak.

“You have to start somewhere,” manager Joe Torre said. “You have to win one game. We’d like to win five, ten in a row, but you have to win one. We beat one of the better pitchers, and we have to come out here tomorrow and hopefully build on this.”

The first anomaly was the good base running by the Dodgers in the second inning. With Matt Kemp on second base and Casey Blake on first, Russell Martin hit a fly ball to center field that forced the runners to run back to the bases. Once center fielder Chris Denorfia missed the diving attempt, Kemp and Blake were well on their way with Kemp even directing Blake to score for the Dodgers 2-1 lead.

Martin then caused havoc darting all over the place forcing Padres starter Mat Latos (L, 11-5) to make a wild pitch that sent Martin to third. Jamey Carroll hit a fly ball to shallow center field into the mitt of Denorfia that sent Martin on his way home. Martin as he was gunned down by Denorfia couldn’t decide whether to slide or to run over catcher Nick Hundley.

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“I kind of took a funny step when I touched the plate,” Martin said. “I hyper-extended my right leg and I triggered all the force into my hip. I don’t know how to explain it. It was a sharp pain in there.”

Despite that Martin stayed in the game but was taken out of the game as part of a double-switch when Hong-Chih Kuo came into the game in the eighth inning.

“Once we turned to Kuo, Russell realized he wasn’t going to be able to block some balls,” Torre said. “So we made the switch there.”

Martin will have an MRI tomorrow to examine the extent of the damage.

As for pitching damage, Dodgers’ starter Ted Lilly (W, 4-8) did a masterful job in his Dodgers debut though the first inning appeared to be more of the same. With one out Miguel Tejada, another new arrival, hit a solo homer into the Dodger bullpen for the quick Padres 1-0 lead. After giving up a single to left field to Adrian Gonzalez, Lilly retired the next 20 batters to keep the Padres frustrated.

“Lilly made it look easy,” Torre said. “This kid is really calm and has got a lot of passion. It was nice to see him give us that game.”

Despite making only 87 pitches through seven innings, Torre decided to insert a pinch hitter for Lilly in the Dodgers’ half of the seventh.

“I was trying to score another run, but we weren’t able to do it,” Torre said.

Hong-Chih Kuo broke the string of 22 consecutive retired Padres by walking Everth Cabrera but struck out pinch hitter Chase Headley to end the eighth inning.

But all eyes were on Jonathan Broxton (S, 21) in the ninth inning coming in to close. After giving up a broken bat single to Jerry Hairston, Jr., it seemed like another string of blow ups for Broxton. Tejada grounded sharply to first sending Jerry Hairston, Jr. to second and bringing up a dilemma for Torre: do you pitch to Adrian Gonzalez or intentionally walk the go-ahead run?

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“The thing that bothered me more than anything was with a man at second base we’re compromising our defense,” Torre said.

Torre had initially decided to pitch to Gonzalez throwing a fastball in and a fastball that was fouled off. And that was it for Torre.

“When I saw him take that swing on the second pitch, that was enough for me,” Torre said. “I just tried to play the percentages there.”

The percentages worked. Ryan Ludwick grounded to a game ending double play for the Dodger victory.

Shortstop Rafael Furcal had an MRI after being pulled out of Monday night’s game in the eighth inning. Furcal has a lower back strain and is listed as day-to-day.

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