Padres Slow Dodgers Pennant Train

The Dodgers and Diamondbacks classic struggle for first place over the entire season masks the fact that the rest of the N.L. West is not going to roll over for either of them during the final weeks of the season. San Diego pasted Greg Maddux 4-0, ending their eight game winning streak. At the same time the Giants dumped Arizona 6-2 and the Los Angeles lead remained at 1 1/2 games.

Whether the Dodgers suffered an emotional letdown or if Padres pitcher Cha Seung Baek was was that overpowering is impossible to determine and, truth be known, it was probably equal parts of each. But the results are the same and now time is on the side of the Dodgers -- each passing day they hold onto first place draws them closer to the goal at the end of the season.

Then you must factor in the difficulty the Dodgers have had winning in San Diego, the fact the Dodgers have not been a road team this season, and the Padres, who are one game away from elimination and don't want it to happen against Los Angeles, and players who are trying to make an positive impression while looking toward next season.

The Dodgers are 18-25 at Petco Park, 160-171 all-time in San Diego and 28-41 on the road this year. That includes the eight-game losing streak that opened the last 10-game trip. Since Aug. 5, the Dodgers are 15-3 at home and 4-13 on the road.

Then, too, the reality is that some nights a pitcher is nearly unhittable.

Baek, who came in with a career record of 18-27 and whom the Dodgers had thumped for seven runs in less than four innings just six days earlier, had his best stuff working in this one.

Using a changeup and his fastball, neither of which were working the last time the Dodgers saw him, he and two relievers held the Dodgers to four-hits with Andre Ethier collecting three of them, a single and a pair of doubles (in the sixth and ninth). Blake DeWitt had the other hit, a single.

Baek had been 0-7 with a 5.94 ERA at Petco Park.

At the same time, Maddux, now 1-3 in Dodger Blue, gave up a pair of runs in the first inning on an Adrian Gonzalez home run with a runner on base to put himself in a hole he never could work out of.

"Gonzo got me. Baek threw a good game. You hate to tip your cap this late in the game but you have to tonight," Maddux said. "I put us down early by giving up two runs. That helps the other pitcher settle down."

The Dodgers play 12 of their final 18 games on the road. All 18 are against teams with losing records which, at the end of the season, usually doesn't mean a thing. Many will finally have something to play for after being out of the race for months.

"If we are going to win this thing we are going to have to do so on the road," manager Joe Torre said.

The 42-year-old Maddux started his 30th game for the 13th straight season and is ERA with Los Angeles jumped to 6.75. He allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings.

Brian Giles doubled and Gonzalez's two-out, opposite-field homer to left dug a hole the Dodgers could never get out of.

Scott Proctor, Scott Elbert and Joe Beimel finished the game out, allowing only a single over the final two innings.

"When you don't score any runs, you're going to look flat," Maddux said. "I think the guys played hard. I thought we played hard defensively. We just didn't get anything going offensively. When you're not running the bases and doing all the things that make it look exciting, it's going to look flat. I think we'll be ready to play tonight."

Torre had a brief team meeting before the game, reminding his players to guard against any sort of emotional dropoff after dispensing with the Diamondbacks.

"It's just a reminder that if you want to have that same emotion, you have to create that yourself," Torre said. "We just played the team we were chasing, and we ran them down. There is a natural reaction, and even though you're aware of it, it's something that can still happen. Even though it doesn't feel the same, you still have to go out and play the game.

"Certainly, we looked a little flat."

Hiroki Kuroda (8-10, 3.96 ERA) allowed four runs and 10 hits in 5.1 innings of a 6-4 win over them Wednesday. The Japanese right-hander, who is 2-1 with a 6.75 ERA in three outings against San Diego, is 1-2 with a 4.43 ERA over his last four starts overall.

San Diego will go with rookie Wade LeBlanc (0-1, 11.25), who makes his second straight start of his career versus Los Angeles. The left-hander allowed five runs and eight hits in four innings in the loss to Kuroda and the Dodgers.

 Score by innings
Los Angeles	000 000 000-0
San Diego	201 010 00x-4

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Martin c	4  0  0  0  .277
Ethier rf	4  0  3  0  .297
Ramirez lf	4  0  0  0  .397
Loney 1b	4  0  0  0  .299
Kemp cf	        3  0  0  0  .285
Blake 3b	2  0  0  0  .265
DeWitt 2b	3  0  1  0  .261
Berroa ss	2  0  0  0  .233
 Pierre ph	1  0  0  0  .274
 Proctor p	0  0  0  0  .000	
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
Maddux p	2  0  0  0  .120
 Elbert p-	0  0  0  0  .000
 Sweeney ph	1  0  0  0  .133
 Hu ss	        0  0  0  0  .000
  Totals	30 0 4 0
  San Diego	28 4 8 4

 Two-base hit- Ethier 2 (35). LOB- Los 
Angeles 5, San Diego 4, DP- Maddux, Berroa 
and Loney; Blake and Loney.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Maddux (1-3)	6.0  7  4-4  2  4  6.75
Elbert 	        1.0  1  0-0  1  0  7.36
Proctor	        0.1  0  0-0  0  1  6.48
Beimel	        0.2  0  0-0  0  1  2.16	
 T- 2:35. Att- 25,942.
Penny Ready for Relief Role
Brad Penny worked a simulated game that was so impressive he is scheduled to be activated for bullpen duty for the weekend series in Colorado.

"Penny looked very good today," manager Joe Torre said. "I talked with him about coming out of the bullpen, and the way we're using our bullpen, the more the merrier."

Penny threw 40 warmup pitches Monday, followed by 30 pitches to Russell Martin, Juan Pierre and Danny Ardoin. Torre said Penny would have a light bullpen session Wednesday. "We aren't looking to bring him in in the middle of an inning," Torre said. "It will be mapped out. He was concerned with his warmups and Rick [Honeycutt, pitching coach], I think, he'll have plenty of time to get that accomplished."

Torre is also awaiting closer Takashi Saito, who will have a one-inning simulated game Wednesday and also is likely to be activated in Colorado.

Schmidt to Have Surgery
Stop me if you have heard this before, but Jason Schmidt will have arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder to clean up scar tissue that was preventing him from getting over the top enough in his delivery and also to repair "arthritic changes in the AC joint."

He will begin rehabbing several days after the surgery and resume throwing within six weeks. Now the timetable for his return is by the start of 2009 spring training.

Dodger Blue Notes --Jeff Kent is not traveling with the team because Dr. Neal ElAttrache didn't want him traveling so soon after the knee surgery. Torre said there is a chance he could join the club at some point on the trip. ...Shortstop Rafael Furcal came out of his aggressive workout Sunday well enough to return to the field for more drills yesterday, leading to the belief that he really is healed from back surgery. However, he still must go through the equivalent of a Spring Training and there is no timetable when he will be game-ready. ...Manny Ramirez, making his first visit to Petco Park since being traded from Boston to L.A., was booed every time he came to bat. He was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, stranding three runners.

Ramirez in Good Company
Ramirez passed 750 career Runs Create Above Average and now ranks 6th on the career RCAA list over the past half century:

1    Barry Bonds                1591   
2    Frank Thomas                851   
3    Hank Aaron                  832   
T4   Rickey Henderson            763   
T4   Frank Robinson              763   
6    Manny Ramirez               751   
T7   Alex Rodriguez              680   
T7   Jeff Bagwell                680   
9    Jim Thome                   676   
10   Mark McGwire                665