The Los Angeles Dodgers have provided fans some late-inning dramatics over the past few days. With ace Clayton Kershaw set to take the mound Tuesday versus San Diego, they'll try and close things out sooner.
The Dodgers have won three straight one-run games and needed extra innings to dispose of the Padres in last night's opener of a three-game series. Adrian Gonzalez had a two-run double in the bottom of the ninth Sunday versus Arizona, then Andre Ethier and A.J. Ellis tag-teamed the Padres a day later.
Ethier hit the game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth and scored the game-winning run on Ellis' base hit in the 11th for Los Angeles, which remained 4 1/2 games behind San Francisco for the NL West lead and one-half game off the pace in the Wild Card.
"That was fun," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "It was awesome when Andre hit the home run to give us life and I'm happy for A.J. Every win is huge."
Hanley Ramirez homered and Luis Cruz posted a game-high four hits and a run scored in the win. Ramirez has hit four home runs and driven in five in the previous seven games. Ethier is hitting .457 with four homers and 10 RBI in his past 12 games.
L.A. is 3-2 on a seven-game homestand and will rest its hopes on Kershaw this evening. Kershaw has lost two of three starts, but is still 5-2 in his past seven trips to the hill. In a 2-0 loss to Arizona on Thursday, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner allowed both runs in six innings to go along with nine strikeouts and three walks.
Kershaw, who is 12-8 in 28 starts with a 2.85 earned run average, has fanned at least seven batters in seven straight starts. He is 1-0 in three matchups with the Padres this season and 8-3 with a 2.35 ERA over 16 career starts against them. The left-hander also is 7-5 in 16 home outings in 2012.
The Padres suffered their third straight loss since winning eight in a row and 10 of 11 games, and had the Dodgers on the ropes until Ethier breathed life back into the hosts. Ethier went deep off of Luke Gregerson and Cory Burns surrendered Ellis' game-winning hit in the 11th.
"Luke threw a slider to Andre that caught too much of the plate and he put a good swing on it," Padres manager Bud Black said.
San Diego blew a lead to Colorado on Sunday and received another strong performance from Chase Headley. Headley went 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBI, and owns two homers and nine RBI in the past two games. Padres slugger Carlos Quentin did not start last night because of a balky right knee and could return Tuesday. He lined out as a pinch-hitter in the 11th inning.
The Padres are 1-3 on a six-game homestand and turn to Eric Stults this evening. Stults has won his last four decisions and gave up an unearned run in six innings during an 8-2 win over Atlanta last Wednesday. Stults, who tossed seven scoreless innings the previous outing at Arizona on Aug. 24, is 5-2 with a 2.43 ERA in 13 games (9 starts) this season.
Stults, a Dodger from 2006-2009, is 3-1 on the road this season and has never faced Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is 9-4 against San Diego this season.