Eric Stults returned to the Dodger Stadium mound for the first time since leaving the team he began his major league career with to go play in Japan. And he matched NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw pitch for pitch — except for the first one.
Chris Denorfia drove Kershaw's first delivery into the left-field pavilion, but the Padres didn't score again until after the left-hander departed in the seventh for a pinch-hitter. Stults kept Los Angeles' formidable lineup in check for six innings Tuesday night, allowing a run and seven hits before San Diego won 6-3 in 11.
The no-decision left Stults 4-0 with a 1.66 ERA in six starts since rejoining the Padres' rotation on Aug. 6. He made four relief appearances following a 6-0 loss to Arizona on June 3, which led to a 6½-week stint on the disabled list with a strained left lat.
Stults pitched on the night before the sixth anniversary of his major league debut. The 32-year-old lefty made 24 starts for the Dodgers during his first four big league seasons, including a pair of four-hit shutouts at Chavez Ravine against the White Sox in June 2008 and the Giants in May 2009.
"I didn't know that, but Stultsie's been good for us — especially the last month," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Tonight he matched up with probably the best left-handed pitcher in the game and dueled him pitch for pitch. We've given him an opportunity to jump into a major league rotation and he's pitched extremely well for us."
Logan Forsythe hit a two-run single with the bases loaded in the 11th against John Ely (0-1). Yasmani Grandal tied the score with a two-run homer in the eighth off Matt Guerrier after a single by Chase Headley.
"We've been pretty clutch the second half of the season, and tonight was my night to come through," Grandal said. "Forsythe also did it in the 11th inning with a big clutch hit that got us a win."
Guerrier had been limited to 8 2-3 innings all season due to elbow tendinitis. He took the loss last Friday night against Arizona when he served up a leadoff homer in the 11th inning to Jason Kubel in his first appearance since April 18.
"I was just looking for something to hit," Grandal said. "I was able to get a good pitch that he left middle-in, and I was able to drive it out of the ballpark."
Ely (0-1), working his second inning of relief, gave up a leadoff single to Cameron Maybin in the 11th. Everth Cabrera followed with a bunt single, and both runners took an extra base on third baseman Luis Cruz's throwing error to first.
Will Venable was intentionally walked with one out before Forsythe lined a 1-2 pitch to right-center. Headley followed with an RBI single.
"My approach was just to see the ball deep and try to go back up the box with it," Forsythe said. "Luckily, I got a pitch to do it with and stayed through it well enough to put us on the board."
Padres rookie Tommy Layne (1-0) pitched a perfect inning for his first major league win, striking out Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez on 13 pitches. Luke Gregerson got three outs for his fourth save.
Kershaw pitched seven sharp innings and reached the 200-strikeout mark for the third straight season. He was in line to get the win after the Dodgers took a 3-1 lead in the seventh with Shane Victorino's RBI single and Gonzalez's sacrifice fly.
But with an overworked and injury-depleted bullpen, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was forced to use Guerrier and Ely late because Jamey Wright and Brandon League each worked two innings the previous game.
Los Angeles dropped 1½ games behind St. Louis in the race for the second NL wild card. The Dodgers remained 4½ games behind the NL West-leading Giants, who also lost in 11 innings to Arizona.
"You've got to give a lot of credit to the Padres. They battled me all night and they put some great at-bats together," Kershaw said. "It's definitely frustrating to lose like that."
Denorfia's homer deep into the left-field pavilion was his sixth this season and third leading off a game. It was only the second time in Kershaw's 145 career starts that he gave up a home run to his first batter. Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins did it on Sept. 1, 2010.
"I don't know whether that home run heightened Kershaw's focus — because he doesn't ever look like it needs to be," Black said. "We stressed him a couple of times and he rose to the occasion with strikeouts."
Andre Ethier homered in support of Kershaw, who allowed five hits, struck out nine and walked three. The left-hander raised his season strikeout total to 201, joining Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Fernando Valenzuela and Hideo Nomo as the only Dodgers pitchers to whiff 200 or more batters in at least three consecutive seasons since the franchise relocated from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958.
NOTES: Headley was chosen NL player of the month for August after batting .308 with 10 homers and 31 RBIs — becoming the first Padres player to win the award since Tony Gwynn in May 1997. ... The Padres promoted RHP Brad Boxberger and INF Andy Parrino from Triple-A Tucson and C Ali Solis from Double-A San Antonio. RHP Anthony Bass was reinstated from the 60-day DL. C Eddy Rodriguez and RHP Ross Ohlendorf were designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Solis and Bass.