Rejuvenated Dodgers Sweep Padres

The surprising Dodgers went 6-0 on their recently-completed road trip through Arizona and San Diego and moved to within two games of the first-place Padres and run their winning streak to seven. It was their first perfect six-game road trip since the final trip of 2006, when they were 6-0 at Colorado and San Francisco.

Los Angeles pitching in the series against the Padres was outstanding. Ramon Ortiz held them to three runs in four innings and the bullpen held onto he lead in the first game. Clayton Kershaw won a 4-1 decision and Chad Billingsley completed the sweep with a 1-0 victory.

At San Diego the starters worked 18.1 innings, allowed 14 hits, walked six and struck out seventeen for a 1.96 earned run average.

Even the loss of hot-hitting Andre Ethier in the final two games didn't stop them. Ethier broke a small bone on the little finger of his right hand during batting practice.

Two Hits Enough in 1-0 Win

Catcher Russell Martin singled in the sixth inning to drive in shortstop Jamey Carroll with the only run of the game. The win boosted the dodgers to 20-17 on the season and it was their 12th win in the last 17 games.

Martin;s base hit was the first of the game for Los Angeles. Ronnie Belliard singled in the seventh for the second, and final, Dodgers' hit.

"It was a big win and a big series," manager Joe Torre said after the game. "We put a streak together ourselves by playing good baseball and with good pitching. That was where we were fumbling around early in the season trying to get that good feeling. Over the last 10 games we've played a lot better.

Billingsley (4-2) smothered the Pirates while working into he eighth inning, allowing four singles, one walk and striking out six. Hong-chih Kuo completed the eighth and Jonathan Broxton worked a perfect ninth to save his third game of the series.

Carroll worked an opening walk in the seventh and was bunted into scoring position before Martin ripped a ball up the middle and into center field to drive in the run and, incidentally, extend his hitting streak to 11 games.

Torre nearly gave Martin a day off, along with Casey Blake and Manny Ramirez, but changed his mind. Reed Johnson replaced Ethier in right, Belliard took over for Blake, Nick Green made his first start at second and Garret Anderson drew a start in left field.

Kershaw Earns Second-Game Win

Clayton Kershaw allowed only three hits and a single run in winning the second game of the series 4-1.

"My command wasn't that great and you could say I was effectively wild," Kershaw said. "I really didn't many of my spots and with only my fastball working, I just made the best of it. My curve wasn't there and my slider was inconsistent."

Ramon Troncoso added a pair of scoreless innings and Broxton had little trouble closing out the game.

First baseman James Loney tied the game 1-1 when James Loney unloaded his fourth home run of the season. Loney also walked, scored twice and stole a base. He was 9-for-21 on the trip with two homers and .320 on the season.

The Dodgers used RBI singles by Jamey Carroll and Russell Martin in the fifth to score twice and Anderson drove a shot over he head of the Padres right fielder to knock in the fourth run.

Carroll, who has filled in for injured shortstop Rafael Furcal, had two of the Dodgers' five hits, scored one run and drove in another. He is hitting .328 and the team is 11-6 in his 17 starts.

"He's been a great player for us, just the way he plays the game," said Torre. "It's something you like to teach all kids and expect from all players"

L.A. Draws First Blood in the Series

Los Angeles has usually found San Diego the place that winning streaks go to die, but with soon-to-be-37 Ramon Ortiz on the mound and Ethier out of the lineup, they scratched out a 4-3 win, with Matt Kemp's two-run home run that glanced off the glove of center fielder Tony Gwynn, Jr. driving in the tying and winning run.

The Dodgers bullpen was on display this night when George Sherrill followed Ortiz with a scoreless inning; Jeff Weaver duplicated his effort and earned the win; Ronald Belisario, Hong-chih Kuo and finally Broxton worked the final six innings, allowing two hits and no runs.

It was Ortiz's first Major League start in almost three years and he allowed six hits and three runs over four innings. Adrian Gonzalez slugged a solo homer off Ortiz in the first inning that would have been a two-run shot, but catcher Russell Martin caught Gwynn trying to steal second base just before the big hit.

With a runner on base in the sixth, Torre called on Kuo to face Gonzalez and he nailed him with a slider to end the inning.

Former Dodgers Jon Garland was tagged with the loss but he battled out of bases loaded jams in the second and third innings and allowed only one run on Manny Ramirez's single in the third.

Demonstrating that the Dodgers are indeed related to the Daffy Dodgers from Brooklyn, Ortiz took it upon himself to squeezed in a run with the bases loaded in the second but came out of it with a 1-2-3 double play.

"I still don't understand that one," said Torre.

Ortiz said it was the last time he would try it.

The Dodgers' runs off Garland scored on a Ramirez's bases-loaded single in the third and an Andre Ethier double in the fifth. The top three Dodgers in the lineup -- Russell Martin, Kemp and Ethier -- went 6-for-12.

Ethier Out for Undetermined Time
Ethier, who tucks his finger under the handle of the bat, pinched the little finger on his right had so severely that it broke a small bone and he returned to Los Angeles so that doctors could further examine the injury Sunday.

The Dodgers will wait a day or so to determine if Ethier will have to go on the 15-day disabled list, Torre said. Entering Sunday's game, Ethier led the league with a .392 batting average and 38 runs batted in, and he was tied for the home run lead with 11.

Rafael Furcal, also on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, said he did not know how soon he might return or whether he would need additional rehabilitation games in the minor leagues. The Dodgers had hoped to reactivate the shortstop Friday for the three-game series with the Padres, but the injury hadn't completely healed.

And starting pitcher Vicente Padilla, also on the disabled list with a sore nerve in his right throwing arm, isn't expected to return until next month but continues a steady rehabilitation.

Ramon Ortiz, who turns 37 on May 23, is scheduled to have his second start for Wednesday when the Padres return to Dodger Stadium.

Los angeles hosts the Houston Astros to open a seven-game home stand tonight against the Houston Astros.

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