Los Angeles, CA – A starting pitcher provided the fireworks to Monday's anticipated series opener between the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
And he didn't just do it with his arm -- or his fist.
San Diego's Eric Stults recorded a quality start and crushed a three-run homer in a 6-3 victory that lacked any retaliation stemming from the fracas the last time these NL West rivals met.
A brawl last Wednesday left Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke with a broken left collarbone and San Diego's Carlos Quentin getting hit with an eight-game suspension that started over the weekend.
With Quentin not in the lineup, Monday's focus at Chavez Ravine was more on baseball and on commemoration of the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier.
The Dodgers were unable to ride the wave of the ceremony's momentum, losing for the third time in four games despite getting three hits, an RBI and a run scored from Carl Crawford.
Stults (2-1) gave himself an early lead with an unlikely homer and lasted six innings, scattering three runs and nine hits to help snap San Diego's five- game slide.
"It felt good," Stults said of his homer. "My power zone is opposite field. I just tried to put a good swing on the ball."
The Dodgers evened the score, 3-3, in the fifth, but Ronald Belisario (0-2) didn't record an out after relieving starter Chad Billingsley to start the seventh. Two walks and a single loaded the bases and ended Belisario's forgettable outing, and Paco Rodriguez threw a payoff pitch in the dirt to pinch-hitter Chris Denorfia to force in the go-ahead run.
Yonder Alonso's double-play grounder plated Jesus Guzman for a 5-3 Padres lead, and the Dodgers ran themselves out of a run in the eighth.
With runners on second and third and one out, pinch-hitter Skip Schumaker hit a chopper back to the mound. Luke Gregerson fielded the ball, looked the runner back to third and threw to first for the second out. Despite a late start to the plate, Ellis broke for home and was easily tagged out to end the threat.
Everth Cabrera scored on Kyle Blanks' sacrifice fly in the ninth, and Huston Street closed it out in the bottom half for his second save.
Dodgers pitchers had allowed just six home runs coming into the game, but Billingsley served one up to his counterpart in the second inning.
Alexi Amarista walked and Cameron Maybin singled before Stults stepped to the plate with two away. Billingsley missed his spot on a 2-2 fastball, and Stults sent the mistake to straightaway center for his first career round-tripper.
"Chad battled, but he didn't seem as sharp as last game," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of his starter. "Stults is a pretty good hitter."
The Dodgers chipped away at the deficit with a run apiece in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Adrian Gonzalez's ground-rule double plated Crawford to get LA on the board, Crawford followed an inning later with an RBI single, and Ellis smacked one through a drawn-in infield in sixth to knock in Matt Kemp with the tying run.
Billingsley was charged with three runs on seven hits and two walks over six frames ... Stults' homer was San Diego's only hit in 11 chances with runners in scoring position ... The Padres will send Jason Marquis to the hill in the middle test of this three-game series on Tuesday, while the Dodgers counter with lefty Chris Capuano.