Padres take division lead

Bruce Bochy says there is "no rhyme or reason." But he admits the numbers are twisted.

When the Padres defeated the Dodgers 2-1 Sunday afternoon, it raised San Diego's record at Dodger Stadium to 7-1 going into Monday night's season finale between the two teams.

"It just seems like they find a way to get the big hit or pitch in the big inning when they have to, and that's been the difference this year," said Dodgers starter Derek Lowe, who gave up just one run.

Overall, the Padres are 13-4 against the Dodgers this year and have won eight of the last nine meetings -- the exception being Friday night when the Dodgers won 3-1 behind seven one-hit innings by Greg Maddux.

The best the Padres have ever gone in Los Angeles before was 7-2 in 1973. And the Padres' previous best overall record against the Dodgers was 12-6 (three times, 1983, '86 and '89).

The Padres go for win No. 14 Monday night with Jake Peavy on the mound. San Diego altered its rotation last week so that Peavy would be available for Monday night's game in Los Angeles rather than Tuesday night's first game of the final homestand of the season.

Sunday's win also put the Padres a half-game ahead of the Dodgers in the National League West race. And the Padres know what is on line Monday night.

The Padres regained the lead in the National League West for the first time since Aug. 9 and moved to eight games over .500 (78-70) for the first time since the last game before the All-Star break (48-40 on July 9). They have never been nine games above .500 this season.

Said third baseman Russell Branyan: "(Monday's) game really separates the men from the boys. If we can go up by 1 1/2 games with 14 games left, we'll be looking pretty good."

REPLAY: A pinch hitter promoted from Triple-A Portland came through again for the Padres on Sunday in Los Angeles.

Terrmel Sledge had a run-scoring single to break a 1-1 tie and give the Padres a 2-1 win over the Dodgers that vaulted San Diego over Los Angeles and into the National League West lead.

Trevor Hoffman got the final three outs for the 475th save of his career, leaving him three shy of Lee Smith's all-time record.


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