Padres Blink First; L.A. Wins in 17

In the rubber game of the first series in San Diego this season, the Dodgers demonstrated the strength of their bullpen, the weakness of their offensive and their gritty determination when the baseball gods seemingly are looking the other way.

Unlikely heros Brady Clark, Wilson Valdez and Chad Billingsley played big parts in the marathon that Los Angeles and San Diego underwent Sunday. Valdez lived on an error in the 17th, Clark knocked him in and Billingsley fanned the final four Padres hitters to record the win and end the nearly five-hour contest.

Both clubs spent nearly everyone on the roster save starting pitchers and Dodger Wilson Betemit who didn't get into the tense battle.

They thumped each other around in the first three innings and Los Angeles held a 4-3 margin. San Diego tied in the sixth and it was the only run scored by either team over the next 13 innings.

Derek Lowe didn't bring his good stuff to the party, allowing eight hits and all four San Diego runs before leaving with one out in the seventh. Over the final 11.2 innings, the Los Angeles bullpen held San Diego to only a harmless two-out single in the 13th.

San Diego managed only nine hits during the game and fanned 11 times, leaving only two runners in scoring position.

Joe Beimel, Jonathan Broxton, Chin-hui Tsao, Rudy Seanez (who allowed the single), Takashi Saito and Chad Billingsley were in complete control while the Dodger offense strove mightily but left 15 runners on base, nine in scoring position.

In a reminder that numbers tell only what they mean to tell, Jeff Kent left four runners on while going 2-for-7. But the truth of the matter is, he well could have had six hits, smacking the ball solidly but right at a Padre fielder four times.

Rafael Furcal doubled and Juan Pierre lived on a perfect bunt that was thrown away, Furcal scoring from first. Pierre stole second and scored on Russell Martin's single.

San Diego scored one in the first and after Kent and Luis Gonzalez slugged solo homers in the third, the Padres scored two of their own.

The back-to-back homers, the first of the season for Los Angeles, swelled the total of opponent home runs his so far in spacious Petko Park this season to four.

Lowe found his mojo in the fourth inning and set down 14 of the next 17 batters, leaving the rest of the afternoon/evening to the bullpen.

In the 17th inning, with most of the sellout crowd well on their way home to a cold dinner, Wilson Valdez dropped a one-out bunt in front of the plate and Pete Laforest, a catcher filling in at first base, dropped the ball. Brady Clark, who was 0-for-5 with a pair of walks, lined a shot down the left field line for a double and Valdez scored from first, sliding under the throw.

Chad Billingsley, the sixth and last out of the Dodger bullpen, retired the Padres 1-2-3 in the 16th but things turned exciting when with one out, Ramon Martinez, who had handled 11 chances flawlessly, five of them spectacularly, muffed a two-hopper at third base.

The 24-year-old right hander, who has had trouble adjusting to pitching out of the bullpen, settled down after walking the potential winning run and struck out the final two Padres, making it four in a row, to earn his second win of the season.

The tired Dodgers bussed home to Los Angeles and will host second-place Arizona in the first of a three game series, with lefthander Randy Wolf drawing the start and wondering if any of the members of the bullpen will show up to help him out.
 Score by innings
Dodgers	202 000 000 000 000 01-5
Padres	102 000 100 000 000 00-4

 Dodgers	ab  r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	7  1  2  0  .208	
 Billingsley p	0  0  0  0  .000
Pierre cf	7  1  2  0  .282
Garciaparra 1b	8  0  3  0  .316
Kent 2b	        7  1  2  1  .326
Gonzalez lf	3  1  1  1  .274
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Anderson ph	1  0  0  0  .231
 Tsao p	        0  0  0  0  .188
 Saenz ph	0  0  0  0  .000
 Liebenthal ph	1  0  0  0  .100
 Saito p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Valdez ss	1  1  0  0  .275
Martin c	8  0  2  1  .314
Clark rf-lf	6  0  1  1  .286
Martinez 2b	7  0  2  0  .211
Lowe p	        2  0  1  0  .222
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Ethier rf	4  0  0  0  .232
    Totals	63 5 16 4
    Padres	59 4  9 4

 Error- Martinez (1). 2B- Furcal (3), 
Clark (4). HR- Kent (2), Gonzalez (4). 
RBI- Martin (18), Kent (17), Gonzalez 
(11), Clark (4). S- Lowe, Martinez. 
LOB- Dodgers 15, Padres 9. DP- Lowe, 
Furcal and Garciaparra.	

 Dodgers	     in  h  r-er  bb  so  era
Lowe	             6.1  8  4-4  2  3  4.62
Beimel	             1.0  0  0-0  0  0  2.77
Broxton	             1.2  0  0-0  1  0  0.66
Tsao	             2.0  0  0-0  0  1  0.00
Seanez	             2.1  1  0-0  0  2  3.46
Saito	             2.0  0  0-0  0  2  1.42
Billingsley (2-0)    2.0  0  0-0  1  4  5.93
 HBP- Gonzalez. T- 4:55. Att- 44,028.

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