Mistakes Cost Dodgers Dearly in Opener

This is the time of the season that everyone must trot out his A game; there is no margin for error, particularly in Death Valley, otherwise known as San Diego, where Dodger pennant hopes go to die. It was not for lack of effort, but Los Angeles didn't do the things needed to win, San Diego did and they were rewarded with a 6-4 win, moving back into first place when Colorado dumped Arizona.

David Wells was not picked up to be the saviour for the Dodgers, just someone who could keep the team in the game long enough for the bullpen to protect the skimpy lead they would provide them.

That's just what he did in his second start, working five innings and allowing six hits and three runs, leaving the game after five with the Padres leading 3-2.

The Dodgers tied things in the sixth, then Rudy Seanez (6-3) coughed up a run in each the sixth and seventh, Joe Beimel allowed one more in the seventh and Los Angles could never catch up, despite a dozen hits -- nine of them singles.

The 44-year-old Wells pitched better than he did in his last four starts with the Padres, when he struggled so badly that they designated him for assignment on Aug. 9 and should have allowed only a single run during his time on the mound.

"I wasn't disappointed, I'll tell you that," said Wells, won his first start with the Dodgers in New York. "I made the pitches I needed to make. A couple of misfortunate happenings."

Jack Cassell was called up from AAA Portland to make his first big league start for the Padres and allowed three runs and 10 hits in 5.2 innings. He struck out five and walked one. While he didn't get the win, he did what he needed to do.

Jeff Kent drove in Rafael Furcal in the first but was thrown out trying to stretch the double into a triple.

Then the key play of the game came in the bottom of the inning after Adrian Gonzalez hit an RBI single with two outs to tie it at 1. Center fielder Juan Pierre lost a fly in the twilight with two outs, the ball falling 20 feet behind him for a double, allowing Gonzalez to score. Kevin Kouzmanoff then singled to make it 3-1.

"I take full responsibility for this loss," said Pierre, who scored the Dodgers' first run and drove in the last one. "I saw it off the bat, but when it got up into the sky, I couldn't see it. I'm not making any excuses. I've got to find the ball and catch it. Big games are all about momentum, and I let momentum shift to their side."

Wells then retired 13 of his last 15 batters, allowing only two more singles and could have gone longer but was taken out of the game after 81 pitches for a pinch hitter.

Russell Martin banged an RBI single in the fourth after Matt Kemp doubled on a chopper that bounced under the second baseman's glove and died in short center field. And tied the game with another in the top of the sixth when he singled to left to score Kent who was on base with a single.

Seanez hit Gonzalez leading off the bottom of the inning, then allowed a pair of singles to untie the game. He gave up another run in the seventh when former Dodger Milton Bradley added an RBI double off Joe Beimel and then scored on Gonzalez's single.

"In a game like that," said Seanez, "I can't let that happen. I've got to be a little more careful. I just went inside too far."

Pierre singled to score Shea Hillenbrand in the ninth and put the tying run at the plate but Trevor Hoffman nailed down the win for the Pads.

San Diego moved into a tie for first place in the division, while the Dodgers slipped to four games back in the Wild Card with one month to go. It was only the bullpen's 14th loss of the season and second since July 25. The bullpen is 22-13, while the starters are 48-50.

Things get considerably more difficult tonight when Derek Lowe (11-11, 3.56 ERA) opposes Cy Young Award candidate Jake Peavy (15-5, 2.18 ERA) on Saturday in the second game of a three-game series.

Score by innings Los Angeles 100 101 001-4 San Diego 300 001 20x-6 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Furcal ss 5 0 1 0 .277 Pierre cf 5 1 2 1 .289 Kemp rf 5 1 1 0 .325 Kent 2b 4 1 2 1 .298 Ethier lf 4 0 1 0 .291 Martin c 4 0 2 2 .298 Loney 1b 3 0 2 0 .308 Hillenbrand 2b 4 1 1 0 .254 Wells p 2 0 0 0 .119 Sweeney ph 1 0 0 0 .250 Seanez p 0 0 0 0 .000 Beimel p 0 0 0 0 .000 Hernandez p 0 0 0 0 .000 Gonzalez ph 0 0 0 0 .278 Totals 38 4 12 4 San Diego 34 6 12 6 2B- Kent (34). RBI- Kent (71), Martin 2 (79), Pierre (34). LOB- Los Angeles 8, San Diego 7. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Wells 5.0 6 3-3 1 3 5.46 Seanez (6-3) 1.2 2 2-2 1 1 3.68 Beimel 0.1 2 1-1 0 0 4.11 Hernandez 1.0 2 0-0 0 2 6.05 HBP- by Seanez. T- 2:37. Att- 44.324.

Wolf Undergoes Surgery-- Lefthander Randy Wolf's effort to return from the disabled list ended when he felt more discomfort in his shoulder and will undergo arthroscopic surgery on Wednesday at the Kerlan-Jobe clinic to determine the cause. After winning nine games before the all-star break, it casts Wolf's future into doubt after he turned down a handful of multi-year offers last winter to accept a one-year contract with his hometown Dodgers. "Obviously, I took a huge risk to come here," Wolf said. "I knew it was a risk, but I took a gamble, and I lost. Life is full of them." The Dodgers hold a $9 million option on Wolf for next season that they aren't going to exercise, which will leave him a free agent after an injury prevented him from pitching after the All-Star break. But Wolf has a proven track record, so there is a strong chance some team -- perhaps even the Dodgers -- will take a chance on him at a much lower price. "If it's only an impingement, which we think it is, he'll be down only six to eight weeks," Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said. Wolf finished the season 9-6 with a 4.73 ERA. He joins Jason Schmidt, Yhency Brazoban, Hong-Chih Kuo and Jason Repko as Dodgers lost to surgery. Marlon Anderson also had elbow surgery, but returned to action, then was lost to the Mets.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Although Nomar Garciaparra and his strained left calf hasn't felt good enough to try running, he has looked good enough in batting practice that he might be activated for pinch-hitting soon, now that active rosters can be expanded to as many as 40 players. ...Newly acquired right-hander Esteban Loaiza will make his Dodgers debut on Monday at Chicago, with Brad Penny starting on Tuesday night against the Cubs and the rest of the rotation staying in order thereafter. Loaiza, a native of Mexico, grew up a Dodgers fan because of fellow Mexican Fernando Valenzuela and said he wanted to sign with the Dodgers in 2005 and 2006, but couldn't reach an agreement. ... Lefty Eric Stults was optioned to Las Vegas to clear a roster spot for Loaiza, but Stults is expected to return to the majors after the 51s' season concludes on Monday ... The Dodgers are expected to promote some players from Las Vegas and Jacksonville perhaps today. Candidates included Andy LaRoche, Tony Abreu, Delwyn Young, John Meloan, Eric Hull, and D.J. Houlton from Las Vegas. They also are likely to bring up a catcher, either Ken Huckaby or Chad Moeller. ... Kent's double was his 535th, moving him past Lou Gehrig and into sole possession of 27th on the career list.