Dodgers Ain't Dead But Breathing Is Shallow

LOS ANGELES, California-- Woody Williams won only his second game in 11 starts, walked five but held the Dodger hitless for the first five innings as San Diego probably killed the final Los Angeles chance 3-1. The Dodgers, needing a sweep of the series, slid all the way to fourth place as D.L. Houlton gave up a three run homer in the fourth and received his usual run skimpy run support -- one. Over his last seven starts, he has had more than one run to work with on only one occasion.

After the loss to in front of 39,948 at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers trail the Padres by eight games with 22 remaining. While a mathematical chance remains, the Dodgers trail by eight. If the Padres play finish 9-10, Los Angeles will have to go a nearly impossible 18-5 to tie them.

Since 1901, no team has ever trailed by eight games at this point in the season and went on to win a division. The Mariners trailed the Angeles by 5 1/2 in 1995, tied them and won in a playoff and as much as it pains one to write about it, the Giants overcame a 5 1/2 game deficit to catch Brooklyn and win in a three-game playoff.

The best record the Dodgers have posted over a 23-game stretch this season is 16-7, from April 6-May 1. Since then, their best is 12-11.

Jeff Kent broke up 39-year-old Williams' no-hit bid in the sixth with a one-out single to left field. Jose Cruz Jr., the Dodgers' hottest hitter singled off the first baseman's glove, making it 3-1, and Williams was replaced by former Dodger Rudy Seanez.

Jason Phillips singled off Seanez, putting runners at first and third, but Dioner Navarro ended the inning on a long drive to the warning track in right.

In the ninth, Trevor Hoffman -- brother of Dodger third base coach Glenn Hoffman, got Jayson Werth to foul out with two men on earn his 37th save, his 34th in succession.

The Padres took a 3-0 lead in the fourth. Hernandez led off with a homer off D.J. Houlton (5-9). Houlton retired the next two batters before giving up three consecutive hits, including run-scoring doubles to Ben Johnson and Mark Loretta.

Houlton gave up five runs and five hits in 3.2 innings, walked five and struck out one in losing his second straight. Houlton (5-9), after a strong midseason run, now has failed to last six innings in three consecutive starts.

Control problems again bothered him as they did in his previous start. He threw 92 pitches, allowed five hits and five walks and struck out one.

After leaving the bases loaded in the first two innings, Hernandez lead-off shot gave the Padres a 1-0 lead. Former Dodger Dave Roberts tripled into the right-field corner with two out and scored on Johnson's double and Loretta followed with a double to chase Houlton from the game. It was Houlton's shortest since July 3 in Colorado.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Friday was the 40th anniversary of the only perfect game by a Dodger in franchise history. Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax retired all 27 Chicago Cubs on Sept. 9, 1965, and Lou Johnson had the only hit and run in a 1-0 victory at Dodger Stadium. …The Dodgers have backed off on outfielder J.D. Drew's rehab. On the disabled list since July 4 with a broken left wrist, he will not play again this season unless the Dodgers go on a long winning streak. …Jeff Kent, who earlier this season became the only second baseman in Major League history to hit 300 home runs at the position, is closing in on another record. He is approaching another record. Needing three runs batted in to reach 100, he could become the first second baseman to record eight 100+ RBI seasons with three more. He is now tied with Yankees Hall of Famer Tony Lazzeri and Tigers Hall of Famer Charlie Gehringer, both of whom recorded seven 100-RBI seasons in their careers. Kent also has 27 home runs, leaving him three short of his fourth 30-homer season at second base. Presently, Kent is tied with Hall of Famers Rogers Hornsby and Ryne Sandberg, each of whom thrice hit 30 homers. Kent needs to hit two more to tied Davey Lopes who holds the Dodger mark at 28. …Derek Lowe (9-13, 3.77 ERA) will start today against San Diego.