Padres Shell Alvarez for 7-3 Win

After Wilson Alvarez gave up a pair of hits in the top of the first inning the Dodgers banged out five straight hits to take a 3-2 lead. San Diego held the Dodgers to three hits over the final eight scoreless innings of a 7-3 San Diego win. If you arrived late -- or turned on ESPN2 late -- you missed the Los Angeles offense. A slim crowd of 34,105 watched as Alvarez (7-6) failed to record an out in the sixth inning, giving up a leadoff home run to break a 3-3 tie.

San Diego improved to 2-1 against the Dodgers in the third game of a four game series that ends tonight, cutting the Dodgers' lead in the division over second-place San Francisco to 3 1/2 games. The Giants continued to apply pressure, winning their fourth in a row (the last two against Milwaukee). With 17 games to play that matches the Dodgers' smallest lead since July 31. San Diego remained three games behind San Francisco in the NL wild-card race.

The Dodger rotation is in an ugly slump and the division title is suddenly up for grabs. Manager Jim Tracy and pitching coach Jim Colborn have tried every option, and are hopeful Brad Penny can rejoin the rotation next week.

Adrian Beltré, the Dodgers' leading hitter, was out of the lineup with a muscle strain in his side and a sore foot, Shawn Green batted cleanup and Robin Ventura played third base.

Alvarez, who replaced Kazuhisa Ishii in the rotation, joined the long list of Dodgers starters experiencing a disappointing month. The rotation has a 6.00 earned-run average in September and only five quality starts in 13 games.

Alvarez gave up seven of the Padres' 13 hits and four earned runs in five-plus innings, putting his ERA in his last three starts at 19.95. He has been hammered for 23 hits in 7.2 innings during that stretch.

The Dodgers almost overcame Alvarez's shaky start, rallying for three in the bottom of the first to take a 3-2 lead, but squandered a chance to take command. Shawn Green singled to knock in a run and the Dodgers got run-scoring doubles from Jayson Werth and Robin Ventura, but they failed to score another run despite having runners at second and third with none out.

The Dodgers let two other scoring opportunities slip away, in the fifth when Werth led off with a double, and in the ninth, with runners on first and second and no out.

Alvarez had little luck. He gave up a leadoff bloop double down the left-field line. And the run scored easily on a bloop single to left. Then a line drive dropped in front of center fielder Steve Finley, who tried to shoestring the ball and it went for an RBI triple.

After the Dodgers scored three, San Diego tied it in the second. Alvarez fumbled a potential double-play ball that would have kept the Padres scoreless. He retired the next 10 batters but a leadoff home run put the Padres in front to stay.

Minor Moves--The first victim of the front office reorganization under general manager Paul DePodesta is Terry Kennedy, who managed the at Las Vegas this year. Kennedy was told in a meeting that he would not be retained. Kennedy guided the 51s to a 67-76 record and third place in the Pacific Coast League's Southern Division, 11.5 games out of first. Among the forthcoming announcements will be the naming of a new minor league director and a prime candidate is Terry Collins. The former manager of the Astros and Angels was the Dodgers' minor league field coordinator this year, but when minor league director Bill Bavasi left to become general manager of Seattle before Spring Training, Collins assumed some of his duties. Assistant general manager Kim Ng assumed most of Bavasi's duties, but DePodesta said Ng will go back to solely assistant general manager responsibilities this winter. A likely favorite to replace Kennedy at Las Vegas is Dino Ebel, who managed Double-A Jacksonville the past three years.

Penny may start Wednesday--Brad Penny came out of his first session facing hitters with no after effects and could start a real game as early as next week in San Diego. Penny might throw as many as 70 pitches in a simulated game Friday at Coors Field before the Dodgers open a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies. If he remains pain-free after that test, he will probably be activated and start against the Padres.

O'Malley Website honored-The official website of former Dodgers President Walter O'Malley,, which chronicles his life and achievements, received the "Standard of Excellence WebAward" in the Web Marketing Association's 2004 WebAward global competition. The site was recognized in the "Sports" category. The WMA places particular emphasis on the "creativity and functionality of the overall interactive experience." The site originally launched on October 9, 2003 on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the birth of O'Malley, Dodgers president from 1950-70 and Chairman of the Board from 1970-79. "We have enjoyed putting together and we appreciate the recognition," said former Los Angeles Dodgers president Peter O'Malley. "We are glad that so many people have visited the site. This truly is a work-in-progress and we do plan more updates. Our intent was to share with the world my dad's extraordinary life and achievements in one centralized place."