You Live By the Rookie, You Die By the Rookie

Young Terrmel Sledge was playing for the Portland Beavers only a few weeks ago and raising havoc with the Las Vegas pitching staff. Sunday afternoon in Dodger Stadium, with the shadows creeping across the infield, he lined a single by Jonathan Broxton into right field, driving in Josh Bard to break a 1-1 tie, giving San Diego a 2-1 lead in the series and first place in the National League West.

Thus the Dodgers, who have had such success this season with their own rookies, were knocked out of first place by a Padre rookie.

L.A.'s ride in first place cames to an end with a baker's dozen games left in the regular season and tdhey now trail the Padres by a half-game, although it is a full game in the loss column.

San Diego, in first place for the first time since August 9, has one more game to play than the Dodgers and the two clubs meet tonight for the final time in the regular season. The Dodgers hold a one-game edge over Philadelphia in the Wild Card race.
The N.L. West standings
                  w- l   pct   gb
San Diego        78-70  .527  -- 
Los Angeles      78-71  .523  0.5 
San Francisco    74-74  .500  4.0 
Arizona          71-78  .477  7.5
Colorado         69-80  .463  9.5
Los Angeles could not solve 6-10 Chris Young (10-5, 3.63) who is now unbeaten in his last 23 road starts, including all 14 this year with San Diego. He hasn't lost on the road since he lost at the Los Angeles Angels on June 20, 2005, while pitching for Texas.

He allowed only a soft single to left field by Kenny Lofton in the third inning before leaving the game after six with a 1-0 lead.

Derek Lowe was not as spectacular, but just as effective, working a scorless game into the top of the sixth before giving up a two-our home run into the left field seats by third baseman Russ Branyan, his fourth of the season since coming to San Diego from Tampa Bay and his 16th of the season.

Lowe allowed seven hits over his six innings and struck out nine Padres while allowing a single walk. He pitched out of jams in the first inning (first and second with none out) and in the fifth inning when he gave up a leadoff double.

Los Angeles worked five walks off Young and had baserunners on in every inning but the sixth.

Padres reliever Clay Meredith took over in the seventh inning with a scoreless streak of 33.2 innings -- the longest in the majors since Pedro Martinez pitched 35 consecutive scoreless innings for Boston in 2002 -- and ran it to 34.1 before Russell Martin slugged dramatic a home run over the center field wall to tie the game 1-1.

With two out, Los Angeles threatened to take the lead when Rafael Furcal singled and stole second, his 35th of the season and sped into third when the throw to second went awry. Lofton, who had the only Dodger hit over the first six innings, was walked intentionally and swiped his second base of the game (#27).

Julio Lugo, who inexplicably was batting in the third spot with his .227 average, struck out to end the best chance the Dodgers would have. Lugo also ended the third inning with Lofton on first and the fifth inning with Lofton on third.

Joe Beimel took over for Lowe in the eighth and worked around a one-out single, striking out the final two Padres he faced.

Jonathan Broxton got Mike Cannon on a line drive to J.D. Drew to lead off the ninth, then gave up a walk and the all-important single to Sledge, driving in the second San Diego run.

He then wild pitched the runners to second and third, intentionally walked Dave Roberts who was 2-for-4, to load the bases and then fanned Brian Giles and got Todd Walker on a foul to Jeff Kent, playing first base in the absence of injured Nomar Garciaparra.

Trevor Hoffman notched his 39th save and No. 475 of his career, three within all-time leader Lee Smith. He induced Martin to foul out, fanned pinch-hitting Garciaparra, but walked Furcal to give what was left of the 54,601 fans left in the park a faint hope.

However, Lofton lined to center field to end the game and San Diego had taken 13 of the 17 meeting with Los Angeles this season.

Brad Penny (16-8, 4.04) will oppose red-hot Jake Peavy (9-14, 4.17) and coming off a two-hit shutout in night's series finale with the Padres.
  Score by innings
Padres  000 001 001-2 10 1
Dodgers 000 000 100-1  4 0

  Dodgers      ab r h bi ave
Furcal SS       4 0 1 0 .296
Lofton CF       3 0 1 0 .301
Lugo 2B         3 0 0 0 .227
Kent 1B         4 0 1 0 .281
Drew RF         3 0 0 0 .274
Betemit 3B      3 0 0 0 .266
Ethier LF       3 0 0 0 .317
Martin C        4 1 1 0 .287
Lowe P          2 0 0 0 .100
 Anderson PH    1 0 0 0 .280
 Beimel P       0 0 0 0 .000
 Broxton P      0 0 0 0 .333
 Garciaparra PH 1 0 0 0 .305
    Totals     31 1  4 0
    Padres     36 2 10 1

  HR: Martin (9). RBI: Martin (58) 
LOB: Los Angeles 10, San Diego 
10. SB: Furcal (35), Lofton 2 (27) 
DP: (Lugo and Kent).

  Dodgers     in h r-er bb so era
Lowe          7.0 7 1-1 1 9 3.69 
Beimel        1.0 1 0-0 0 1 3.13 
Broxton (3-1) 1.0 2 1-1 2 1 2.61 
  WP- Broxton. 
Dodger Blue Notes-- Jeff Kent started at first base for the third time this season but Nomar Garciaparra, nursing a strained quad muscle suffered Friday night, could return as early as tonight's series finale with the Padres. …Manager Grady Little said that Chad Billingsley would get another start despite a one-inning, 40-pitch disaster Saturday night in his first start after three weeks on the sidelines with an oblique injury. Chad Billingsley is expected to start Thursday night against the Pirates, who are coming off a sweep of the Mets. Little also said Hong-Chih Kuo will remain in the rotation and that Derek Lowe and Greg Maddux could pitch on three days' rest in the last series of the season in San Francisco if those games present postseason implications. …John Shoemaker, manager of the Dodgers' affiliate at Jacksonville and the Southern League's Manager of the Year, will spend the last two weeks with the Major League club.

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