Home Sweet Home; Dodgers Outlast Padres

The Dodgers, who have seemingly morphed into a Clint Eastwoodesque The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (without the eery whistling), traded blows with the San Diego Padres and, with manger Joe Torre pushing all the right buttons, came away with an 8-5 win to run their home streak to 7-0.

Starter James McDonald was unable to get out of the second inning due to another inexplicable bout of wildness; Jeff Weaver had hardly collected his suitcase from the LAX baggage claim before he was called on to save the youngster; Manny Ramirez hit a home run that may have gone into orbit and the offense once more fought back from two deficits and Jonathan Broxton, much like Zeus, threw thunderbolts in the final inning to save his seventh game.

McDonald worked a perfect first inning and Andre Ethier's RBI single gave him a 1-0 lead but then he imploded, throwing 36 pitches, half of them outside the strike zone and some outside the local postal zone, walked two, allowed two hits and three runs before Weaver calmed the waters.

Orlando Hudson whacked a two-run homer in the third and Ramirez put the Dodgers in front again with a shot to deep left. Will Ohman coughed up two runs in the seventh to put the Pods up 6-5 before pinch-hitter extraordinar Mark Loretta tied the game with and RBI single and a fielding error put L.A. back on top.

A pair of insurance run in the eighth and Broxton's shutout ninth in which he didn't allow San Diego to hit the ball at all pushed the Dodgers to an 8-5 win, their 15th of the season, and a 3.5 game lead over San Diego and San Francisco.

Six different Dodgers had a pair of hits each and six shared the eight runs batted in. Ronald Belisario earned his first Major League win in relief and Broxton moved to 7-0 in saves.

They have tied a Los Angeles club record for consecutive wins at home (7) to start a season, first accomplished in 1969. It's their best start at home since 1947, when the Brooklyn Dodgers started out 8-0 at Ebbets Field in Jackie Robinson's rookie year and the franchise record is a 9-0 start at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn in 1946.

Tough Start
After a 1-2-3 first inning, McDonald faced eight Padres in the second inning and was helped by a double play but still needed Weaver to bail him out. The veteran issued a walk to load the bases and got the final out on a long fly to center field. ,BR>
"The only thing I can do is just remind him about the good stuff he's done here," Torre said of McDonald. "We're going to try to figure something out where James will be in a position where he can help us." McDonald has walked 14 batters in 14.1 innings.

"There's no excuse. I should be throwing strikes," the 24-year-old rookie told the press after the game. "I should be giving my team a solid outing. You have to put this one behind you and think about what you need to do to be successful and take this as a challenge."

Weaver allowed a single in the third and fourth plus a double in the fifth but allowed no runs. In the sixth he gave up a single turned the game over to Ohman with two out and a runner on second. The left-hader retired the side on a pop-out but gave up a walk and an RBI double in the seventh and Belisario served up a single and a run-scoring fielder's choice before retiring the side and earning the win.

Weaver made 59 pitches over four scoreless innings of relief, his longest performance of the season, allowing four hits and striking out four in his return to the Dodgers after a three-year absence.

"The adrenaline was pumping and it was nice to get my feet wet again," Weaver said. "Once I got the first hitter out of the way, I felt good. When I got here, they just said throw it in there and let the defense make plays. And they sure did that tonight."

Cory Wade made his first appearance after coming off the disabled list in the eighth and retired the side on three fly balls before turning things over to Broxton who walked the first Padre on four pitches, then struck out the side.

The relentless Dodgers offense overrode the pitching glitches. Ramirez doubled and scored on Ether's single in the first. Then trailing 3-1 in the fourth, Rafael Furcal doubled and Hudson (#3) and Ramirez (#5 and #532-two behind Jimmy Foxx for 16th place all-time) homered to regain the lead.

San Diego scored twice in the seventh but Matt Kemp (who also made two spectacular catches in center field) and Casey Blake singled and Mark Loretta's game-tying RBI single gave him a remarkable seven hits in 10 at-bats as a pinch-hitter this season.

"He knows how to hit, which is the most important thing—and it's not always pretty," Torre said. "You don't know how it's going to get done, but you sort of put him up there and trust his ability. He did it against me when he was with the Red Sox and was a regular player."

After Loretta's hit tied the game, they took the lead on Hudson's single to right. Blake was held at third base, but the right fielder's throw bounced past the catcher with Blake scoring on the catcher's error.

That was San Diego's final shot at the win. Wade and Broxton shut the door tightly in the final two innings.

Clayton Kershaw gets the start tonight after his worst start as a professional last week at Coors Field in Denver. Torre needs him to return to form in a hurry.

"We talked," Torre told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. "He's the same as McDonald sometimes, he needs to try to keep the game at a manageable level. At times, he tries to overthrow and overdo it, he tries to speed things up when he needs to slow them down. It's just inexperience. But we did have a conversation before he threw [between starts] so he would get a feel of what he needs to do."

Kershaw (0-2, 7.29 ERA), who ran into the Coors Field jinx, followed a walk with a home run twice in the same inning and lasted only 4.2 innings, the shortest outing of the three starters in the Denver series. He's now suffered consecutive defeats while allowing 15 earned runs in nine innings.

He will be facing Padre ace RHP Jake Peavy (2-3, 5.74 ERA) who is coming off his second rough start in a row, having allowed five runs in five innings in a loss to the Pirates on Sunday. However, Peavy has a career mark of 13-2 with a 2.39 ERA against the Dodgers.

Pitching probables for the final three games of the series: Saturday, Randy Wolf (1-1, 4.31) vs. RHP Chris Young (2-1, 5.74) 
Sunday, RHP Chad Billingsley (4-0, 2.14)vs. RHP Chad Gaudin (0-0, 0.00)  

  Score by Innings
San Diego	130 000 200-5
LA Dodgers	103 000 22x-8

  Dodgers	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	5  1  2  0  .250
Hudson 2b	4  1  2  2  .337
Ramirez lf	3  2  2  1  .372
Ethier rf	4  0  2  1  .306
Loney 1b	4  1  1  0  .313
Martin c	4  0  0  0  .205
Kemp cf	        4  2  2  1  .325
Blake 3b	4  1  2  1  .243
McDonald p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Weaver p	2  0  0  0  .000
 Ohman p	0  0  0  0 1.000
 Belisario p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Loretta ph	1  0  1  1  .474
 Pierre pr	0  0  0  0  .400
 Wade p        	0  0  0  0  .000
 Stults ph	1  0  0  0  .000
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
-----------------------------
  Totals	36 8 14 7
  San Diego	35 5  8 4

  2b- Ramirez (7), Furical, (4), Kemp (6). 
HR- Hudson (3), Ramirez (5). RBI- Ethier 
(22), Hudson 2 (12), Ramirez (15), Loretta 
(3), Kemp (16), Blake (15). LOB- Dodgers 5, 
San Diego 10. DP- Loney, Furcal and McDonald.

  Dodgers	in  h r-er bb so  era
Mcdonald	1.2  2  3-3  4  0  8.16
Weaver        	4.0  4  0-0  1  4  0.00
Ohman         	0.1  1  2-2  2  0  4.50
Belisario (1-2)	1.0  1  0-0  0  1  3.45
Wade         	1.0  0  0-0  0  0  3.86
Broxton (sv 7)	1.0  0  0-0  1  3  0.82
  WP- McDonald. T- 3:08. Att- 54,628.
New Zip Code for Dodgertown-LA The U.S. Postal Service will designate Dodger Stadium and the associated property with a new signature ZIP code, 90090, the club announced Thursday. The official unveiling will take place Saturday, June 6, before the Dodgers' game with Philadelphia.

"Not only do more than three million citizens call Dodger Stadium their summer home each year but fans from all over the world send cards and letters to the Dodgers organization and their favorite players," said Gregory G. Graves, the Postal Service's district manager for Los Angeles, in a statement released by the club.

"ZIP codes are as important to the Postal Service as a smooth, accurate delivery is for a pitcher in baseball. The use of 90090 will assure fans of all ages that their mail will be delivered quickly and efficiently." Dodgers CEO Jamie McCourt, instrumental in obtaining the unique code, encouraged fans to write letters to their favorite players, mailed to Dodgertown, Calif. 90090.

"We welcome letters in any language, from any person, anywhere in the world," McCourt said. "Baseball is a universal language; baseball is a unifying language."

Dodger Blue Notes-- Ramirez, self-proclaimed "double maniac," had his 514th, tying Edgar Martinez for 38th all-time. ...Dodgers vice president/assistant general manager Kim Ng and Ann Meyers Drysdale, widow of Don Drysdale and general manager of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, both received the 2009 Trailblazer Award at the Kids in Sports Circle of Excellence Awards luncheon today at the Grammy Museum at LA Live. ...Ng and longtime club photographer Jon SooHoo will be honored by the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California this Sunday at the organization's 34th annual gala dinner. ...The Dodgers went 4-5 on their just-completed road trip to Houston (1-2), Colorado (2-1), and San Francisco (1-2).  The team hit .260 (81-for-312) with five homers, including one in their last seven games.  With 41 runs scored, the club averaged 4.6 per game.  The pitching staff, meanwhile, posted a 5.92 ERA during the trip. ...The win gave the Dodgers their best April record since 2005, when the Jim Tracy-led Dodgers also went 15-8 entering May. Los Angeles has logged just one losing record in April over the last 15 seasons beginning in 1995.  The lone losing April in that span came in 2006, when the Dodgers went 12-13, one game below .500. ...The Dodgers rank second in the National League with 131 runs scored, two behind the league-leading St. Louis Cardinals. ...The Dodgers lead the Majors with 12 pinch hits, three more than San Diego and St. Louis.  Los Angeles is hitting .462 (12-for-26) in the pinch overall for the best mark in the Majors.  

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