L.A. Goes Retro, Drops Padres 6-2

The Dodgers went retro after losing the first game of the San Diego series and while it didn't hurt them, it didn't work out all that well, either. Manager Joe Torre started Nomar Garciaparra (.234) at first and Andruw Jones (.161) in center field and the pair went a combined 1-for-8. No matter, Andre Ethier knocked in four runs and Manny Ramirez two in a 6-2 win in San Diego.

The hottest bat in the lineup struck again. And it wasn't Manny Ramirez. Andre Ethier has sizzled over the 12 games he has been slotted in front of Ramirez. During that time he is hitting .500 (23-for-46) with eight doubles, two triples, 14 RBIs, nine walks and 15 runs scored -- and credit for a good part of the Dodgers resurgence.

His ninth-inning double was his 18th hit in 28 at-bats this month, with 10 of them for extra bases. That's an eye-popping .643 average.

"Andre is having at-bats that have been of such high quality," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "I remember earlier in the year, he would get frustrated when he would get behind in the count and stop being selective. They can't do that to him anymore. In a lot of situations, he has been able to fight for that at-bat, and I think this game was a perfect example of that."

The win followed Arizona's 5-4 loss at San Francisco. The Padres (56-89) were eliminated from postseason play and the Dodgers won for the ninth time in 10 games.

It was pretty much an Andre and Manny offensive show, with the Dodgers #2 and #3 batters collecting all the RBI.

Ethier turned a slim, 3-2 ninth inning lead into a 6-2 lead with a three-run double into the right-field corner with two outs in the ninth. He had tripled an inning earlier to tie the game.

Ramirez, who was 0-for-6 in the series and was inixplicably booed every time he came to the plate, quieted the crowd when he lined the first pitch of the sixth into the left-field seats to pull the Dodgers ahead 2-1. It was his 522nd career homer, passing Ted Williams, Willie McCovey and Frank Thomas for sole possession of 17th place on the all-time list.

It was Ramirez's 12th homer with Los Angeles and 32nd overall since being traded by Boston on July 31. Ramirez has six homers and 15 RBIs in his last 12 games. He has 36 RBIs and a .395 batting average since joining L.A.

The Dodgers put it away in the ninth. Blake DeWitt singled with one out. Matt Kemp pinch-hit and singled with two outs. And after a walk to Martin, Ethier cleared the bases with his game-clinching double.

The Dodgers scored two runs in the eighth. Martin broke an 0-for-13 stretch with a double to left-center and scored when Ethier tripled. Ethier scored the go-ahead run on Ramirez's sacrifice fly, a mammoth shot to the base of the wall in straightaway center, one that would have gone out of most major-league parks.

The third Dodgers pitcher, Joe Beimel (5-1) retired the side in the seventh and nailed the first two Padres in the eighth to earn the win. Jonathan Broxton mopped up.

Starter Hiroki Kuroda struggled for six innings, allowing nine hits and single runs in the first and third innings. He left the game trailing 2-1. Kuroda surrendered an RBI-double in the first inning and another in the third. Adrian Gonzalez attempted to score from first base but was nailed at the plate on throws by Ethier and Garciaparra.

It is hard to recall the last Dodgers catcher to lead off, John Roseboro comes to mind, but since Martin has been installed in the first spot the Dodgers are 8-2.

Catcher or no, Martin's offensive performance is in line with any leadoff man in the league. He started the game 0-for-3 with a walk, then doubled leading off the eighth and scored, then he set up Ethier's bases-clearing double in the ninth with a two-out walk.

On the season, Martin leads the team with a .377 on-base percentage, with only Manny Ramirez (.491) and Rafael Furcal (.448) above him but they have seen limited action. During the last 10 games he has reached base at a .390 clip. He leads the National League and is second only to Joe Maury of Minnesota in MLB.

"Leading off is not that different," said Martin. "I've just got to be more patient and make the pitcher work, especially my first at-bat. In September, we haven't seen some of these pitchers, and my job is to see a lot of pitches and give us more looks. And when you've got guys behind you like Ethier and Manny, those guys are on fire, so I need to get on base."

On the season, Martin is batting .278 with 12 homers, 54 extra-base hits, 60 RBIs, 77 runs scored and 15 stolen bases. That compares favorably with last year, when he won the Silver Slugger award for National League catchers, when he hit .293 with 19 homers, 35 extra-base hits, 87 RBIs, 87 runs scored and 21 stolen bases.

In the Dodgers' final game at Petco Park this season, they will send Derek Lowe (12-11, 3.53 ERA) to the mound. Lowe topped Arizona's Brandon Webb and Dan Haren in his last two starts and over the last five, has had a 3-1 record with a 1.02 ERA, plus 19 consecutive scoreless innings. His spot in the rotation was switched around to make sure he would start in San Diego and not in Colorado, where he has been less than effective.

San Diego counters with LHP Shawn Estes (2-1, 2.97 ERA) who is coming back from a fractured thumb. He was impressive in his first start, holding Milwaukee to one run in six innings, scattering seven hits for the win. Estes hasn't faced the Dodgers since 2005.

 Score by innings
Los Angeles	000 001 023-6
San Diego	101 000 000-2

 Los Angeles	  ab r   h  bi  ave
Martin c	  3  2  1  0  .278
Ethier rf	  4  1  2  4  .299
Ramirez lf	  3  1  1  2  .395
Garciaparra 1b-ss 4  0  1  0  .234
 Hu ss	          1  0  0  0  .164
Blake 3b	  4  0  1  0  .265
Jones cf	  4  0  0  0  .158
 Broxton p	  0  0  0  0  .000
DeWitt 2b	  4  1  2  0  .264
Berroa ss	  2  0  0  0  .230
 Loney ph-1b	  2  0  0  0  .298
Kuroda p	  2  0  1  0  .125
 Sweeney ph	  1  0  0  0  .133
 Park p	          0  0  0  0  .111
 Beimel p	  0  0  0  0  .000
 Wade p	          0  0  0  0  .000
 Kemp ph-cf	  1  1  1  0  .287
  Totals	  35 6 10 6
  San Diego	  33 2  9 2

 Two-base hits- Martin (23), Ethier (36). 
3b- Ethier (5). HR- Ramirez (12). SF- Ramirez. 
RBI- Ramirez 2 (36), Ethier (4). LOB- Los 
Angeles 7, San Diego .

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Kuroda	        6.0  9  2-2  2  4  3.93
Park	        0.2  0  0-0  0  1  2.95
Beimel (5-1)	1.0  0  0-0  0  1  2.11
Wade	        0.1  0  0-0  1  1  2.45
Broxton	        1.0  0  0-0  1  0  3.30
 T- 3:17. Att- 26.614.
Penny to be Activated
The Dodger bullpen will have a quality long man available when Brad Penny is activated, perhaps as soon as today. At the same time, lefthander Hong-Chih Kuo has been given a couple days off because of a tired arm.

Kuo pitched earned the win against Arizona on Sunday but has pitched 79.2 innings in his first season as a reliever and Torre said "he was pushing the ball".

Penny has been on the disabled list twice this season with shoulder problems and hasn't pitched since June 14. Overall is 6-9 with a 6.05 ERA.

The Dodgers will use Penny out of the bullpen because there is no time to work him into a starting role. "He's all for that," Torre said.

Takashi Saito is scheduled for a simulated game today and if that goes well, he is expected to be activated for the weekend series in Colorado.

Rafael Furcal, out since May with a back injury that requires disk surgery, will participate in the game and if he comes out of that healthy, he could be activated by next week's four-game series in Pittsburgh.

Jones Regrets Quick Return
Andruw Jones was given a shot at an outfield spot against San Diego, giving slumping Matt Kemp a rest. Kemp has gone eight games without an RBI, has one extra-base hit in the past 13 games with five strikeouts in his past 11 at-bats.

Garciaparra received a rare start at first base. Loney has also been slumping, going 2-for-20 in the past five games and 11 straight without an extra-base hit.

Jones said he regrets volunteering to return early from knee surgery because Pierre had suffered a knee injury himself.

"If I had to do it again, I would have stayed longer at Triple-A. I wasn't close to being ready," Jones told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. "The surgery was healed, but baseball stuff is different. It's like starting in the Spring."

Joel Guzman Designated for Assignment
Once the crown jewel in the Dodgers' minor league crown, outfielder/infielder Joe Guzman has been designated for assignment by the Tampa Bay Rays, according to the St. Petersburg Times. Thanks to Joel Lieberman for directing our attention to the move.

Baseball America ranked him as the 5th best prospect in the game in 2005 and 26th in '06. In 2005 BA ranked him above Scott Kazmir, Hanley Ramirez, Matt Cain, Prince Fielder, Chad Billingsley, and Carlos Quentin.

The Dodgers signed Guzman as a 16 year-old for $2.25 million in 2001.  He played shortstop and was the team's Minor League Player of the Year in 2004. He was moved to left field to start 2006, then Ned Colletti traded him to Tampa Bay in July for Julio Lugo. 

The Rays used him at first and third, and briefly at second. Guzman, now 23, posted a .248/.276/.438 line in Triple A.  He's never shown an ability to draw walks, and his much-heralded power hasn't developed.

Dodger Blue Notes-- The Dodgers' bullpen pitched three scoreless innings on Tuesday. Joe Beimel retired all three batters he faced and got his fifth win, setting the Los Angeles Dodgers record for appearing in 95 consecutive games without allowing a home run. ...Since Aug. 1, Ethier is hitting .371 with 12 doubles, nine homers, two triples, 25 RBIs and 30 runs scored in 31 games. ...Blake DeWitt had two hits and scored a run on Tuesday. In 10 games as the replacement for injured second baseman Jeff Kent, DeWitt is hitting .314.

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