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Blanton goes for Dodgers in opener with Padres

Joe Blanton hasn't done much since joining the Los Angeles Dodgers, but can keep them in the hunt for a playoff spot with a decent outing on Monday in the opener of a three-game series versus the San Diego Padres.

Blanton is 1-3 with a 6.67 earned run average through five starts with the Dodgers since coming via trade from the Philadelphia Phillies. He won his first game with the club in Wednesday's 10-8 triumph over Colorado, as he held the Rockies to three runs in 7 1/3 innings even though he gave up 10 hits.

The right-hander is 9-12 with a 4.95 earned run average in 26 games (25 starts) overall this season and lost to the Padres back on April 22 at Petco Park. Blanton is 2-2 with a 4.63 ERA in six career starts against them.

Los Angeles hopes it doesn't need late-inning heroics this evening much like it did in Sunday's 5-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the conclusion of a four-game series at Chavez Ravine. Newcomer Adrian Gonzalez plated both Mark Ellis and Shane Victorino with a double in the bottom of the ninth inning to earn a split of the series.

"To finish the game like that is amazing. Give credit to the guys getting on before me," Gonzalez said of his hit off of D-backs reliever J.J. Putz. "I was looking for a fastball. When I hit it I knew it was going in the corner."

Matt Kemp homered and relief pitcher Ronald Belisario earned the victory with a scoreless ninth inning. Dodgers starter Chris Capuano was reached for three runs over the first five innings.

Los Angeles is 4 1/2 games behind San Francisco for the NL West lead, but just one-half game off the pace in the wild card standings.

The Padres had won eight in a row and 10 of 11 games before dropping the last two installments of a three-game set in Colorado. They are coming off Sunday's 11-10 loss at Coors Field in which Chase Headley highlighted the offense with four hits, including a two-run home run, and six RBI.

Headley is batting .339 with four homers and 16 RBI in the previous 14 games (10-4).

Alexi Amarista had five hits, two RBI and two runs scored for San Diego, which didn't get much from starter Casey Kelly. Kelly avoided a decision and was touched for seven runs - five earned - and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. Brad Brach allowed the go-ahead runs to absorb the loss. He was victimized by a three-run from Chris Nelson in the seventh.

"I was trying to throw a slider down and away, out of the zone," Brach said. "I just left it up and he put a good swing on it and hit it out."

Andrew Werner will make his third major league start for San Diego tonight and is 1-1 with an even 3.00 earned run average over his first two appearances.

Werner defeated Pittsburgh on Aug. 22 in his debut with six innings of two-run ball, then did the same against Atlanta last Tuesday in a 2-0 loss. Werner, a left-hander, did strikeout seven Braves with no walks. He now will get his first taste of the Dodgers.

Los Angeles is 8-4 against San Diego this season.